Para-Cycling - Where athleticism and inspiration meet
Athletes from around the globe competed at the UCI Para-Cycling Open in Greenville, USA.
racer Victor Hugo Garrido, who became emotional as he recalled his victory and its significance, is aiming for the 2016 Para-Olympics in Brazil.
For others, Olympics aren’t on the radar, but they were on the start line because they enjoy the competitive nature of sport.
American and South Carolinian Aaron Trent and spent two years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado chasing the dream. Now he’s back in the Southeast, working, but still racing and dropping people on the local training rides.
The constant theme I heard from spectators was how awe inspiring the riders were - from the first place finisher to the lanterne rouge. Each one had overcome so much which puts problems into perspective.
My Irish grandfather had lost his right forearm while serving as a captain in the merchant marine. My fondest memories are of him using his pincher claw to point out on a map where he’d sailed. When we went out he had a more “formal” gloved hand that he’d screw onto his stub. As an eight-year old, I thought it was cool.
So here I was full circle; I’m looking at the technological advances in some of these prosthetic devices (full disclosure: I’m a total tech nerd) blown away at what is possible and how they work.
Racer Bryant Young told me how a lot of the technology was “home grown.” Sure his prosthetic leg was the Shimano Di2 of limbs with the capacity to make on the fly adjustments to his gait. However, as that leg doesn’t supply any power he concocted a handmade stationary carbon fiber mount in the triangle of his bike that he attached his leg to using a clipless pedal cleat. You know what they say about ingenuity - it’s the birthplace of invention.
I was also taken back with jaw dropping admiration of the athleticism: full-out sprints by riders with one leg, a tandem with a blind stoker taking a turn at over 40 miles per hour. Once again - witnessing this can only make you realize that some problems in the grand scheme of things are insignificant.
While the US Pro road race and time trial have relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the next couple of years, I’m glad to see that championship cycling hasn’t completely abandoned South Carolina. It was a successful weekend of racing and in 2014 the para-cycling world championships will bring fierce cycling competition to back to Greenville.
I left the course with a new appreciation of what these athletes accomplish. I expected to focus more of my column on snarky Liège-Bastogne-Liège running-panda comments, or how Omega Pharma - Quick Step and BMC Racing Team, both squads for the early season, have had an embarrassing spring campaign. Hell, I was ready to rail against Thor Hushovd and how he’s gone from world champion and Tour de France stage winner to pack filler. I was even going to insinuate in my column that Levi Leipheimer had put a voodoo hex on his old team as revenge for being fired late last year.