- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - David Carey has biked for many years, and he particularly enjoys riding tandem bicycles.

On Saturday, Carey and several volunteers will share their joy of tandem bicycling with a group of blind passengers who’ll be riding on the back seats in Springfield, the Springfield News-Leader (https://j.mp/1X4g8PW ) reported.

“I started this last year,” said Carey, who organized Route 66 Tandem Cyclists. “I’ve been cycling for many years, but just woke up one morning and thought ‘why not put a blind person on back’?”

Nine blind people will climb onto the rear seats of tandem bikes and take a spin on Springfield’s greenway trails. It’s all free of charge, and Carey provides bike helmets and any other gear the blind riders might need.

Carol Van Rhein is blind and helps Carey reach out to other blind people who want to experience the freedom of being on a bike.

“There was a learning curve when I first started riding with my husband, you have to learn to lean,” she said. “But who doesn’t love the feel of the wind on your face?”

Two young riders are coming from Kansas. Blaze and Mia Perry, 12-year-old twins who were blind from birth, have participated in several tandem rides and said they loved it.

“It’s great. It gives us the edge of adventure like everyone else gets to enjoy,” said Mia.

“It’s like being in a car except there are two drivers,” added brother Blaze.

When the tandem cyclists encounter curves or bumps, communication is the key. The front rider - the captain - lets them know what’s coming up and what to expect, Mia said.

Both young riders have gone for more than just short spins around the block. Mia recently rode 30 miles during a charity fundraising ride called Burn Your Buns, which raises money for Midwest Low Vision Technology Center in Joplin. Blaze said his longest ride was 16.8 miles.

The next Burn Your Buns ride comes up in September.

Carey said he hopes more bicycle groups join the effort to bring sightless riders - and others who might not be able to get out and cycle on their own - into cycling.

More information about Route 66 Tandem can be found on the group’s Facebook page or website at 66tandem.com.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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