Feb. 18, 2017

R5-PARA Racing returned home Thursday, after a very intense and effective training camp with the 2017UCI PARA-Cycling Track World's team who will represent the  United States in only 12 days time at the VELO Sports Center in Carson, CA. My teammate, Stephen Pedone (Tucson, AZ) and I recently competed at the 2017 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling Open at the VSC in the R5-PARA Racing colors and posted a time fast enough to qualify for the 2017 UCI PARA-Cycling Track World Championship. Stephen and I were both privileged to attend our first training camp together which started on March 7th and concluded on March 15th. We both can not thank U.S. Paralympic Cycling enough for the privilege and honor to represent our country at Track Worlds this season and I can not thank, Stephen, enough for investing his time and energy into training and racing the tandem bicycle with me. As a visually-impaired bike racer I am dependent upon a fully-sighted teammate with whom to train and race and continue along this amazing journey that has taken me to three different countries and to nearly every corner of the United States with many stops in-between. Stargardt's Disease may have robbed me of several basic human functions but through training and racing the tandem bicycle, my teammates and I have fought back, while I have rebuilt my life, adapting to vision loss and disability, learning how to compete at at an elite level despite an eye disease that threatens my wellness. So, my teammate, Stephen, and I departed LA on March 15th after finishing our first training camp together with the U.S. Track World's PARA-Cycling Team and the race report is an overwhelming positive review. As a Junior rider, Stephen won a National Championship on the track in the 3k Individual Pursuit but soon began to focus on mostly road cycling but this season, as the driver for R5-PARA Racing, he rediscovered track cycling, albeit on a track tandem bicycle and with a visually-impaired Military Veteran as teammate and stoker.  My coach introduced Stephen and I back in Nov/Dec and Stephen and I recently organized and executed our own R5-PARA Racing training camp, based out of his house in Tucson. I can not thank Stephen and his roommate enough for welcoming me into their home for just over two weeks so Stephen and I could train and prepare for the 2017 U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling Open that took place in Carson, cA at the VELO Sports center. As a visually-impaired bike racer it requires a great deal of planning and logistical work, getting two tandem bicycles and supporting equipment from my house in Mooresville, NC to Stephen's house in Tucson, AZ. Without mission support from so many friends and family this uphill battle would have been much steeper indeed. On the NC end, my wife drove me to and from the airport with all the equipment and on the AZ end, Stephen and another friend, John, provided logistical support by transporting the tandem to and from the airport. This may seem small but considering I can't operate a motor vehicle, this type of mission support is not small at all. In addition, leading into the Track Cycling Open, stephen and I drove from Tucson to Carson for two days of training on the Boards at the VSC which was instrumental in our preparation for The Open. Stephen and I negotiated a shot of stress, across the bow, by working together as a team and achieving our objective which was to accumulate valuable track time that we needed to have a solid performance in The Open. Two highly competitive athletes training and racing on the same bicycle and add a visual-impairment to the mix, and you have the potential for a stressful situation that can challenge a team but stephen and I worked through the two days of training and returned to Tucson with valuable track experience that we might not have had, had we not traveled to Carson. Part of the challenge was working through the mechanical challenges that we faced, for example, learning which gear would be a good fit for Stephen and I and also setting the chain length. We also had an issue with the wheel bearings but with a bit of valuable feedback from Dave Swanson, stephen and I learned how to wrench the track tandem so that we can now get the bike race ready. Many people say, track racing is much simpler than road racing but we are not so sure that is true:: So, Stephen and I headed back to Tucson to finish off the R5-PARA Racing training camp where I was privileged to experience some of the best training in the country. Stephen and I rode the Saturday Shootout and the Tuesday morning Gates Pass ride, as well as, a short climb up Mt Lemmon. I departed for home the next day so we didn't have time to climb all of Mt. Lemmon but that is definitely one of our training objectives this season, as we build towards 2017 U.S. Paralympics Road National Championships. More about the Gates Pass training ride though, as stephen and I approached the climb over Gates Pass, I could feel the climb getting steeper and steeper and given the untested 44t small chainring I was unsure we would make it. Stephen and I hadn't done any real climbing before that I was seriously unsure we could muscle the tandem up the climb. At a point, I actually said, I am not sure we are going to make it but my teammate, stephen, replied "we have to". At that point I knew I had found a teammate who possesses that internal mental strength, similar to what a soldier exhibits when driving forward in battle. You just don't quit, even when the pain attempts to shutdown your body and persuade you to turnaround and travel back down the hill, we kept driving forward and climbed gates Pass that day and captured a great photo to always remember the experience. I will always remember that moment because it's akin to the frequent battle I fight when I am in the GTI "Garage Training Institute) back home and struggle launching a  ride because I have no one with whom to share my passion for cycling and in that instant, I realize I have to keep driving forward, I can't quit. if I quit, Stargardt's Disease wins the day. Stargardt's Disease may win the day from time to time but it will never win the war. So, let's navigate back to the end of the R5-PARA Racing training camp and our transition into the Track Cycling Open and our first UCI Para-Cycling Track World's Training Camp with Team USA. Stephen and I both can not thank Dave swanson enough for the mission support leading into The Open, as well as, during The Open. Dave wrenched, coached, laughed with friends and showed his true passion for Para-Cycling and Para-Athletes. Dave drove tandem for nearly 10 seasons with Clark, earning many National Championships across the road and track disciplines, winning a World Championship on the track and competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games. stephen and I were very fortunate to have such an experienced member to our team as we headed into The Open last month in Carson. Dave, thank you my friend. So, stephen and I posted a time fast enough and we were nominated to the 2017 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships that will take place March 2-5 in Carson, CA at the VELO Sports Center. Stephen and I will compete in the 4k Individual Pursuit and the 1k time-trial. affectionately known as the KILO. For the uninitiated the KILO is arguably the most painful event in track cycling. it is 1 kilometer of driving the bike as hard and as fast as you possibly can.. Although Stephen and I are not KILO specialists we still enjoy competing in the KILO:) Stephen and I just finished up our first training camp with Team USA, on the Boards at the VSC in Carson, CA and the camp was an overwhelming success. I'm not just typing this to type it either because training camps for tandem teams do not always go well but for Stephen and I the camp was a success. The U.S. Paralympic Cycling coaching staff pushed our bodies to the limits and by Monday, post session, I was wrecked and physically exhausted but Stephen and I maintained Military style baring, working well together even under heavy work loads and stressful situations, to conclude the severn day camp with positive results. I can't emphasize enough, how grateful I am to Stephen for working well with me to achieve our training and racing objectives. We train and race as professionals. Not all tandem pairings experience the same results when embarking upon the journey of training and racing the tandem bicycle, the outcome can unfortunately at times be very stressful and and result in a short lived experience. As the last day of training camp was upon us however, our training objective was a 4k race effort and so Stephen and I took to it just as if it were race day, which will come very soon, right there on our home track. We posted a PR time in the 4k and we were both very excited about that but also realistic, knowing we can go faster:)  a little more about the mental and physical fatigue that the entire team felt on about Monday of the camp, for me personally, I always welcome the fatigue and use it to measure the effort applied to the pedals, with hopes that I've done my part, that I've made an honest contribution to society and to my family, friends and my teammates. I have such a privilege to train and race alongside some of the most hard-working and passionate Para-Cyclists in not only the country but the world. We defeat eye disease, vision loss, cancer, loss of limb, and several other threats to our wellness, all the while, training and racing a bicycle at an elite level. Honestly, when we are all at a training camp or a competition, you rarely hear a word about disability or the things we can't do. It's all about what we can do! I have discovered that many of my teammates are highly successful professionals away  from the bike as well, with a former professional musician and Wall Street Trader among us.   So, we all return to Carson March 2 to begin final preparation for competition March 2-5 as we take to the boards at the VSC and put power to the cranks! Thank you to each and every person who has kept this journey alive and kept my passion for training and racing the bicycle alive. We can't win every race and we may never win a single race. It's all about the journey! ---R5-PARA Racing----

Saturday

Jan 28th
2017

U.S. Paralympics Track Cycling Open

Sat 1/28 - Sun 1/29
9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
U.S. Paralympics Cycling will host the 2017 Track Cycling Open presented by Toyota at the Velo Sports Center in Carson, Ca

Thursday

Mar 2nd
2017

2017 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships

Thu 3/2 - Sun 3/5
8 a.m. - noon
The 2017 UCI (International Cycling Union) Para-Cycling Track World Championships will take place this season in Carson, CA at the VELO sports Center.

Thursday

May 4th
2017

2017 Para-Cycling Road National Championships

Thu 5/4 - Sun 5/7
8 a.m. - noon
2017 Para-Cycling Road National Championships

Saturday

Jun 17th
2017

The 2017 Para-Cycling Time-Trial (UCI Road Worlds Selection)

9 a.m. - noon
2017 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Championship selection event

2017 R5-PARA RACING PLEDGE DRIVE

$50.00 Raised / $20,000.00 Goal

Fighting vision loss, from the start line to the finish line.

Cycling Speed Skinsuit

$250.00

Official R5-PARA RACING Uniform

Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey

$90.00

Official R5-PARA RACING Uniform

Cycling Bibs

$100.00

Official R5-PARA RACING Uniform

Cycling Wind Jacket

$140.00

Official R5-PARA RACING Uniform