Visually impaired veterans developing tandem cycling skills

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Blind and visually impaired cyclists from across the United States are taking part in a camp at the Olympic Training Center.

The United States Association of Blind Athletes is hosting the Tandem Cycling Development Camp.

This year, there are 18 cyclists. Eight of them are military veterans.

Tuesday, riders went up Gold Camp Road, working on their hill climbing and racing techniques on tandem bikes.

Over the course of this camp the cyclists will ride twice a day, putting in about 100 to 150 miles by the end of the camp.

When you drive by a tandem cyclist, feel free to give them a little boost.

“A lot of times when you see a tandem bike, there is probably a visually impaired person there so really, if you can encourage we love that,” Corporal Mathew Mueller, a tandem cyclist, said.

Mueller is an Army veteran who became visually impaired after he was in car accident in 2014 while at home on leave.

“When I broke my neck, they told me I wouldn’t necessarily be able to run or those kinds of things again,” Mueller said.

But Mueller proved them all wrong and has been tandem riding for almost 10 months now. He said he loves the fast speeds and team aspect this sport offers.

“If you are hurting at least there is someone else there hurting and suffering and that’s what I learned in the military,” he said. “We are all going through the same thing. We sweat and bleed together and it’s the same thing with tandem cycling.”

Mueller’s tandem cycling pilot Greg Miller said working on hill climbs like this one on Gold Camp Road helps build a team’s tandem chemistry.

“When you stand up out of the saddle, for instance to sprint or climb out of the saddle, you have two people trying to balance the bike at the same time so if they’re not in sync you can squirrel all over the road or maybe fall off,” he said.

Tuesday’s goal was to reach the top, but Mueller’s ultimate goal is to take his tandem riding skills to the next level.

“Long term my goal is to make the national team and hopefully make a run for the Paralympics one day,” Mueller said.

The tandem cycling development camp ends Saturday with a 20K road time trial race simulation.

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