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Old 08-18-08, 12:59 AM   #1
carbonlife
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I got a great e-mail

I ride with a tandem group where the stokers are all blind or visually impaired. An English gentleman, who completely lost his vision a few years ago, was traveling alone from England to Brisbane Australia to visit his son, and scheduled a few days in San Francisco. He found out about our group and said he'd like to go for a ride on the free Saturday he had. We usually ride on Sundays but we arranged a special ride for him.

So anyway he just got around to sending us the pics we took with his camera, and he sent a really nice note. In particular, the last thing he wrote was really cool!

Quote:
Originally Posted by my new English friend Dick
I promised to send photos of my outing with you back in March. <snip> Sorry for the delay. <snip> I have also attached a couple of articles that I wrote about my round the world trip. My equivalent of photos. We have a local weekly audio paper for the blind, so I was able to share my story with others who are less fortunate than myself. <snip> (carbonlife) kindly sent me a copy of the route that we rode, printed off his GPS. The wonders of modern science. <snip> A big thank you for a really memorable day. Having told all my blind friends over here of my experience, there is talk of forming a tandem club for ourselves.

Enough for now, again many thanks for my best day so far this year.


OK, this is the end of my post.


But, if you are in a reading mood, I've included bonus material! Below is an excerpt from Dick's audio report of his trip. This is part of the section that describes the good time he had in San Francisco.

(Note: Dick's son and fiance came to SF for a short vacation, then returned a day early so Dick could spend his last day in SF with us).

Quote:
Originally Posted by my new English friend Dick
The kids and I had great fun on the local buses, having decided to make our own way to the Golden Gate Bridge. They are all single deckers and seem to be driven by big American women with big personalities to match. On seeing me on the sidewalk the first driver shouted out "Now yer all stand back and let the guy with the white stick on first" - a somewhat different approach to home. Our next bus was full and when the driver saw me she called out "Somebody get up, cos I ain’t going nowhere until the blind guy has a seat." I got my seat. I was told that there was a prominent sign stating "It’s the LAW. If a senior or disabled person needs this seat you MUST move." But it wasn’t just the law it was people's attitudes that were so inclusive and helpful. Shops and restaurants immediately picked up on my disability and rushed to help. More than once I was told to put my money away when proffering the reduced fare on public transport.

Another of my winter contacts was with Tandems Across the Bay, a cycle club for visually impaired adventurers who go out every week in the surrounding area. An email to the organiser Aaron, had him rearrange a ride especially for me. I was on my own as Simon and Astrid had already left for their journey home to Brisbane.

I got a taxi to the nominated bike shop where I met Aaron and his wife, Lee. I have never been on a tandem before, but Aaron put me at ease with a comprehensive briefing. He sat me on the tandem behind him and adjusted the seat. There was a mixed bunch of about ten riders, with the visually impaired on the back of the bikes.

I was a little apprehensive but off we went for a 17 mile cycle ride in the beautiful Californian sunshine. The smells of pine, eucalyptus and sea breezes made for a special day. Aaron kept up a running commentary on where we were and our conversation inevitably led to him asking about my working life. I told of my Police service and Aaron replied that he too had been a policeman for four years in Israel. A small world. And then the highlight of the trip. We cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge, but in fact it's painted red! A fantastic experience as masses of joggers and cyclists took their trip too.

A ride on the ferry home and an American hamburger meal completed a wonderful day. The tandems had been donated and the bike shop stored and maintained them as part of its voluntary social duty. We are certainly missing something here.

My blind biking friends told stories of lives that are so much fuller than ours. The ‘can do’ attitude is the driving force behind everything that they do. They were really keen for me to join their blind cross country skiing week in Utah next February. A nice thought but my pocket money is rather low at the moment.
Dick taking his first bite:
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Old 08-18-08, 01:04 AM   #2
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Very Cool!
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Old 08-18-08, 01:58 AM   #3
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Awesome!
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Old 08-18-08, 02:32 AM   #4
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Cool.
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Old 08-18-08, 08:52 AM   #5
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What a really nice story! That was cool of you to spend the time with him and give him the experience of a lifetime. Awesome!! You guys rock!
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Old 08-18-08, 08:56 AM   #6
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Wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing that with us.
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Old 08-18-08, 10:31 AM   #7
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This really peaks my curiosity.

How do they arrange those rides? I have someone very special in my life who's also visually impaired...and she likes to ride when she has a bike. This would be awesome!
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Old 08-18-08, 10:46 AM   #8
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That's really cool, carbon! Thanks for sharing your story with us.
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Old 08-18-08, 11:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCrassic View Post
This really peaks my curiosity.
How do they arrange those rides? I have someone very special in my life who's also visually impaired...and she likes to ride when she has a bike. This would be awesome!
You might check with the local blind services organization. The leader of this group, Aaron, decided to form a club to do this. The local Lighthouse for the Blind offered tandem rides, but they didn't do it often enough, so Aaron got them to lend him three tandems, plus he got some bikes donated. He convinced a bike rental place on Fisherman's Wharf to give him a little space to store the bikes (and the guys also do some maintenance and repairs in their spare time). Then he found stokers through the Lighthouse, and found captains through Craigslist. In summer, typically four to six tandems go out every Sunday.

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