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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]

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

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JJMichael IngrassiaKyle BanerjeeSteve ScarichSpiffy Recent comment authors
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Dan A
Dan A

That sounds AWESOME.

Monkey see
Monkey see

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?


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


get on SpinLister and rent a tandem…

maybe I need to list mine…

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich

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.

Kyle Banerjee

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.