By: Suzanne Lafky
Cancer has touched us in various ways. Tour des Chutes is a day where folks gather to ride to support those who are here and to remember those who are gone. This year, as it is every year, is a celebration – not only that, it’s a party about our abilities.
Oregon Adaptive Sports (OAS), a local nonprofit outdoor organization for people with disabilities, will be hosting a team of six adaptive athletes who will participate.
The six adaptive athletes, all with disabilities ranging from Asperger’s, Cerebral Palsy (CP), to riders who are blind, are set to race in the local Tour des Chutes ride with the support of OAS.
“This is an event that the OAS participants and volunteers have been looking forward to all summer. For many of our participants, this will be their first community event and they have been training hard. We are excited to support this great cause and be part of the cycle community here in Bend,” said OAS Summer Program Director Lucy Swaffield.
Each participant will have support from OAS staff and volunteers and many will be using OAS’s adaptive bikes. Riders who are blind will use a tandem bike with a sighted guide and for the riders with mobility challenges, there’s handcycles powered by the arms rather than the legs for such riders like Jan LaValle who has CP.
After a nudge from her physical therapist, Eric Ballinger, LaValle signed up for OAS’s cycle session to reintroduce herself to the sport and to see what she could get out of it. After a ride on one of the handcycles, LaValle was hooked and signed up for Tour des Chutes. This will be LaValle’s first community cycle event.
“After years of not doing any physical activity, I cannot describe how it feels to be active again,” said LaValle.