Maria and I have been members of the Achilles Tandem Bike program for four and a half years. For the past three years, though, we’ve participated in Double-Up for Vision, a Lighthouse International tandem ride/walk fund-raiser that shines a spotlight on services and endeavors to raise awareness about what people who are blind and visually impaired can achieve.
The event begins at approximately 8:00am on a Pier along the Hudson River. A gorgeous location, but it can be quite blustery on an October morning. This year the event will be held on October 13, so I hope temperatures start out in the reasonable fifties and sixties rather than the crisp forties. I generally wear several layers as I am no lover of the cold weather. Riders and walkers are treated to a breakfast of bagels, bananas, coffee, and other goodies. The assembled crowd waits to cheer on the approaching 24-hour relay riders. Uplifting speeches are made, the current amount raised is announced, warm-ups are done, and riders take off on the exhilarating five-mile ride down the Hudson followed by those who will be walking the route. This year, though, it has been lengthened to ten miles.
Crazily, Maria and I signed up for the 24-hour relay. It is not a race, but rather involves teams who start at four-hour intervals. We’ve learned that we’ll be riding from 6:00am to 10:00am, which puts us in line to enter the pier when other participants will be beginning their ride/walk. Hoping I’ll be pumped rather than pooped, we’ll finish off the last ten-mile stretch to the finish.
In years past, we’ve dismounted our tandem bikes; sought out interesting snacks, and waited to go on-stage to perform as part of our Jam59 Pop-rock group. This year there will be no live entertainment, unfortunately. I regret that the group will not have the opportunity to play, but to be honest, by the end Maria and I will be lucky if we can drag ourselves to the curb to hail a cab.
In the first year, we rode with individual volunteer captains. Mine was a reader for the agency’s outstanding Readers’ Service. She was a wonderful cyclist and we made a great team. Last year we rode with a jovial married couple who worked for a perfume company. This year we’re going to be riding in a team of five, comprised of captains from an investment firm (for which I have no name). Emails and phone calls have already flown between my captain and I to schedule practice sessions. I’m grateful that I had a satisfying ten-mile ride this past Saturday as I understand that we’ll be riding about 20 miles over the four-hour period through the mostly quiet boroughs of New York City.
For more information on this event, visit www.lighthouse.org.
Have any of you done tandem rides for a fundraiser? If so, tell us about your experience in the Reader’s Forum.