MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua Blind Association will participate in the inaugural Gran Fondo Bike Tour in Chautauqua County, to be held Saturday, Aug. 29. The tour will include a 42-mile tour around Chautauqua Lake, and will lead riders through many local destinations. Riders looking for an alternate route may also opt to take a trip across the lake on the Bemus Point – Stow Ferry.

CBA will participate in the Gran Fondo by providing an opportunity for visually impaired or blind individuals to learn the sport of tandem bike riding. A tandem bike, or “bicycle built for two,” provides a perfect mix of exercise and socializing as a sighted rider, known as the “pilot,” sits at the front of the bike and communicates what’s ahead to the person with vision loss in the back seat, known as the “stoker.”

CBA’s vision is to provide individuals with visual impairments the opportunity to experience tandem cycling, with its feeling of freedom and sensation of speed. Also, it wishes for more sighted cyclists to experience the satisfaction of captaining tandem bikes and sharing their love of riding with those who can’t ride alone due to vision loss.

The tour will begin at Lakeside Park in Mayville, with check-in and registration period running from 7:30-8:45 a.m. The tour begins promptly at 9 a.m. Although the tour will take riders around Chautauqua Lake, the tandem bikers will stay in the park to ride the half-mile track to test their riding technique and to learn about communicating about surface changes, obstacles, turns, upcoming hills – both uphill and downhill – and when to brake. Once they become comfortable, the “pilot” is encouraged to describe the beautiful scenery and the activity of the park to their “stoker.” Following the tour, music and refreshments will be available at Webb’s Captain’s Table Restaurant from 11a.m. to 3 p.m.

The cost to register for a tandem bike is $30. Those who register on or before Aug. 10 will receive a Gran Fondo T-shirt. Those who register after Aug. 10 will receive a Chautauqua Gran Fondo water bottle. To register as either a “pilot” or “stoker” for a tandem bike, contact CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services at 664-6660.

Jason Bussman