Splendid Cycles

Tandem captains needed ASAP for blind rider program

Posted by on May 12th, 2017 at 1:24 pm

(Photo: Washington State School for the Blind)

Here’s an excellent way to recognize National Bike Month and help a local organization get more involved with cycling.

We’ve heard through the grapevine that the Washington State School for the Blind is in desperate need of tandem captains for an event this Monday afternoon (5/15).

As part of a new cycling program aimed at helping blind and low vision people experience the thrills and skills of cycling, the school is hosting a series of training rides at Portland International Raceway. These rides will lead to a race series (sanctioned by the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association) that will be part of the full training program that will launch next summer.

18 students who have signed up for the May 15th ride still need a captain!

See the message below George Wilson of the Mt. Hood Bicycle/Pedestrian Coalition for more information:

We are in desperate need of tandem captains for 18 Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) students who have signed for the Monday; May 15th ride. If you are interested in making a student’s day, please help us out, and plan to participate. These are relatively easy rides, and most anyone who cycles regularly will have no problem captaining one of these students. Many of them have previously ridden in the stoker (passenger) position. We have had several first-time tandem captains who have all had awesome experiences with their blind and low vision partners.


Our problem is we have far more students interested in tandem cycling than we have captains. As a result, these kids are unable to enjoy a full riding experience. Half the students ride in the support van to the half way point, then they switch with students who rode the first half. The goal is to have enough tandem captains to give each student a full ride experience.

If you are interested in participating as a tandem captain, please fill out the volunteer application form (PDF) and bring it with you to the Monday; May 15th ride. We will be meeting at the Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver, WA at 3:00 p.m. The address is 2214 E 13th Street; Vancouver, WA 98661.

If you are able and willing to help, please email George Wilson at george [at] mthoodbikeped.com.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Dan A May 12, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    That sounds AWESOME.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Monkey see May 12, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    I would love to do this. I didn’t see if the tandems are provided, or if they need people that own tandems to volunteer?

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Michael Ingrassia May 15, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      It totally is a lot of fun, but also hard work. Both operating the tandem, and remembering to be a good role model for the kids.

      They have a large fleet of bikes 20+ and they had enough captains for all riders this time, which they don’t always.

      I encourage you to come next week! I believe they said they are going to lake Vancouver.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • dan May 13, 2017 at 4:07 am

    Is this actually at PIR or in Vancouver? It would be _much_ easier to get to PIR.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Michael Ingrassia May 13, 2017 at 8:14 am

      It appears to be in Vanco, I’m taking the yellow to The Columbia so I’m all still Fresh Leggs McGillicuddy for my potential partner. I’m thinking a stop for fried pickles at a notable breastaurant on the return home.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Michael Ingrassia May 14, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      I confirmed with George that it is I Vancouver.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Spiffy May 13, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    get on SpinLister and rent a tandem…

    maybe I need to list mine…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Steve Scarich May 13, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I used to be the coach of the National Paralympic Team. Although I am a big supporter of these teams, it is not trivial to captain a tandem, if you have never done it before. It requires a certain physical strength, a bit of a learning curve on the mechanics and biomechanics of riding a tandem, and a lot of patience. You will be challenged physically and mentally. Well worth it, but definitely a commitment. And, racing tandems takes it up several notches. I would volunteer, if I did not live in Bend.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • JJ May 15, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      This was definitely a low-key ride just for fun, not race training. We rode about 8 miles all told, stopped at a park at the halfway point for a snack and some water, and got back to the school just before the rain started up. I’m used to being the stoker on our tandem, but thankfully years of xtracycling the kids and pulling the Follow-Me-Tandem made it pretty simple to pull off the captain role today. My stoker has been a student there for 5 years now and has done a number of these rides too, so that was helpful – he knew what was up! The hardest part was remembering to communicate all our stops and turns and bumps in the road.

      I look forward to participating in more of these rides! So fun and rewarding! The kids all seemed like they had a great time, and I know I did 🙂

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Kyle Banerjee May 14, 2017 at 7:37 am

    This is an excellent opportunity — I wish this weren’t during work hours. One of my early jobs was to captain a tandem for a guy who was a strong racer in his day but went blind. This guy taught me 90% of what I know about being a cyclist in terms of technique, attitude, and mechanics.

    As has been mentioned, being a captain is not trivial and the stoker and captain need to work closely together — I suspect this is why they’re doing it at PIR. If you wind up working with blind people on public streets and conflicts with motorists aren’t normally extremely rare for you, you absolutely must adjust your riding style. Seriously.

    Recommended Thumb up 0