02 October 2018

Adapting By Bicycle

I have never ridden a recumbent bicycle.  Perhaps I will one day.  My major concern with them is visibility, especially as I do much of my riding in heavily-trafficked urban areas.

I do, however, see the value of them.  Some claim they are more efficient and comfortable.  Certainly, I can see the value of them for some people with physical ailments and disabilities.

That point became clearer to me after an article I read about a ride to raise funds for disabled veterans.  

On Sunday, normally-abled cyclists joined their disabled peers on the Two Top Adaptive Sports Foundation's inaugural Bike for Disabled Vets fundraiser.  Among them were Igor and Olga Titovets of North Potomac, Maryland.  They pedaled along the Western Maryland Rail Trail--she with her legs, he with her arms.

His legs are in braces.  This means that, while he can use a foot-powered recumbent bicycle, it is difficult for him to climb hills with it.  Instead, he rides a model powered by his arms.

Igor Titovets

Titovets' participation in the event is emblematic of the ride's purpose, and Two Top's work.  The non-profit Foundation, based in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, provides disabled veterans and their families lessons in adaptive sports like cycling, skiing and water skiing. The lessons are by reservation, and the group has a fleet of 22 bicycles.

They are, of course, recumbent, because that is pretty much the only kind of bike that can be adapted to hand power.  Plus, it can be adapted in other configurations to accommodate people with a wide variety of disabilities.

David and Jo Ann Bachand

The Titovets' participation--and that of another couple, David and Jo Ann Bachand--underscores another important point:  that adaptive bicycles can help disabled veterans--whose population has grown with the ongoing war in Afghanistan and the Iraq invasion--cope with their disabilities.  By extension, cycling and other adaptive sports can also help them cope with their post-military lives:  Some of them had been in uniform practically from the day they left school.

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