Most people think nothing of going for a cycle as part of a fitness programme, whether it be in the gym or on the road. By using a tandem bicycle, a “double bike” for two people, it is possible for vision impaired people to also enjoy a cycle on the road or on the track (a Velodrome).
The vision impaired person sits on the rear of the tandem – your role is that of “stoker”. The sighted person on the front – the “pilot” – has pedal, steer and to brake and to provide verbal instructions to the stoker.
Tandem cycling is attractive to all ages and to either gender. Any mix of age and gender is possible. Tandems suitable for young children are also available. It is an activity that can be enjoyed along with friends or family. It takes only a few minutes to master the art of piloting a tandem so anyone who can cycle can do it competently.
Those who practice competitive cycling as a sport participate in both road based and velodrome (indoor track) based races. These races require distinct skills and specialist tandems. Both cyclists have to train and race as elite sportsmen and women. They require a mixture of speed, strength and endurance depending on the specific event. Cycling was introduced as a Paralympic Sport in Seoul in 1988 and Ireland first competed in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. The three vision impairment categories (B1, B2 and B3) compete together. On the road tandems compete in road races, one-day competitions or competitions by stages which last several days. On the track they competition distances are 200m sprints, 1 Km Time Trials or 4km Pursuits. Men normally compete over longer distances compared to women. Para-Cycling uses the technical regulations of the International Cycling Union (UCI) at all cycling competitions. Visit the UCI website at www.uci.ch or the Paracycling section of the Cycling Ireland Website www.cyclingireland.ie
Tandem cycling for the majority is likely to be recreational and requires little specialist equipment other than the tandem. No special clothes are essential to start cycling but often people will invest in cycling shorts, cycling shoes and a variety of cycling tops for the upper body once they have become hooked on the sport.
If you would like to experience the benefits of cycling then contact.
Gerard Watchorn – email Gerard Here
Vision Sports Ireland
1 Christchurch Hall,
Tel: 085 8500193