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Blind bicyclists pedal through Brooklyn

Blind bicyclists: We want to do everything sighted people do

Brooklyn Daily
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Fifty miles is a long ride on a bicycle — especially if you can’t see where you’re going.

Two blind Israeli athletes will be competing in a 50 Mile Bike Run that will wend its way through Brooklyn today to prove that blind men and women can live healthy, athletic lives.

“Blind people can participate in sports activities without any danger,” said blind 50 Mile Bike Run participant Bracha Ben-Avraham, who said that proceeds she and blind triathlete Dror Carmeli raise will be donated to the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind. “We don’t like the idea of having blind clubs where sight-challenged people are segregated, we want to integrate them into regular activities.”

Ben-Avraham said she and Carmeli will be competing on tandem bikes guided by sighted pilots — or captains, as they’re called in the tandem community. The captains will steer and shift gears while Ben-Avraham and Carmeli pedal.

The relationship between the blind athletes and their captains can be likened to the partnership visually-impaired people have with their guide dogs, Ben-Avraham explained.

“I totally trust the captain that I ride with,” said Ben-Avraham. “You learn to trust your dog and you learn to trust the captain. It’s really a wonderful sport.”

The athletes may be blind, but they say they’re accomplished cyclists — and Brooklyn’s streets are nothing compared to the rugged terrain of the Israeli wilderness, they claim.

“The terrain here is actually much easier than the terrain back home,” Ben-Avraham said. “We do a lot of off-road biking, with a lot of steep terrain. So, here it’s basically flat terrain, but it will be a good long ride.”

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 4:18 am, June 10, 2012
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