Three tandem bikes with blind rear riders competed in a time trial event as part of the 2013 Salida Classic races Friday. A total of five teams competed, with two comprised of fully-sighted members.
Andy Medina and Sue Shusterman competed for the first time and finished second, with a time of 22:33.88 minutes. Shusterman is legally blind.
Mark Thompson and Bob Bradler finished fourth with a time of 23:59.42. Both had competed before, but not together. Bradler is legally blind.
The third team was not listed in the results.
The team, the Denver chapter of Eye Cycle, mostly rides for recreation but recently started competing in races that allow tandem competitors.
Randie Polidori, founder of the Denver chapter of Eye Cycle, is a senior district court judge. She said she started the chapter after presiding over a divorce case 19 years ago.
Polidori said the wife in the case, who had lost her eyesight to diabetes, sought money to rent a bicycle as part of her alimony.
The husband’s lawyer, upset by the line item, reportedly shouted, “What do you need a bicycle for, you can’t even see?”
Polidori recalled thinking, “I can’t believe he said that.”
The wife explained she had found a place that rents tandem bikes and she shouldn’t have to forfeit all her past activities.
Spurred by this statement, Polidori sought to donate a tandem bike to a club or association that would ride with the legally blind.
She said she struck out with the clubs and associations in Denver and had “kind of given up” when she read an article about Eye Cycle in California.
“I asked if they had a Denver chapter because I wanted to donate a tandem and they said, ‘No, but you can start one,’” Polidori said.
That was 19 years ago and the chapter now has 15 tandem bikes.
She said it’s a “nice, social nonprofit organization.”
Before riding, captains with full sight receive training.
“Blind people are so cool – it’s amazing what they can adapt to. They are just like you and me, except they can’t see,” Polidori said.