Sports | CanVelo Tandem Bike Group
More than a Sport
“Canvelo” – A Unique Cycling Club for Blind and Sighted Riders
“Canvelo” is a unique tandem biking club sponsored by the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind and its American Friends. The objective of the club is to provide a safe, supervised framework for blind and visually impaired riders to enjoy the thrill, speed, and camaraderie of cycling. The club also works to increase public awareness of the needs of blind and visually impaired persons and of the important work of the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind.
The name “Canvelo” has several meanings: “Can Velo” in Hebrew means “Yes and No” – referring to riders who can and cannot see. “Velo” in biking lingo means “bicycle” and appropriately, the groups motto is “Yes we Can!”
Israeli Canvelo Cycling Clubs – Ten Years of Riding Together
The first Canvelo tandem biking club was established ten years ago by Brigadier-General (Ret) Moti Regev, a former helicopter pilot and commander of the Palmachim Air Force Base. The group began with one tandem bicycle and has grown steadily ever since. The club currently numbers close to 80 members – 26 of whom are blind or visually impaired.
CanVelo holds on and off road excursions each weekend and overnight excursions are held several times each year. Additional clubs have been established in the Sharon Region and the Western Galilee. All the Canvelo Cycling Clubs attempt to reach out to as many blind and visually impaired people as possible.
How does Tandem Cycling with Blind Riders Work?
Each tandem bike is ridden by a sighted and a blind rider. The sighted rider, known as the captain, sits in front and is responsible for steering the bike, shifting gears, braking, and directing the bike along the route. The blind rider sits in back and is known as the stoker. Both riders work together to balance and propel the bike. The two riders are in constant communication with each other and the captain informs the blind stoker of approaching turns or stops, often describing the passing scenery and surroundings. Each captain is responsible for the safety of his or her blind partner throughout the ride, both on and off the bike, and provides help if needed.
Canvelo biking excursions are often difficult and require a high level of cycling skill and technique that would offer a challenge to any professional experienced cyclist.
Riding Without Seeing and with Total Trust
For a blind person, riding a tandem bicycle entails placing total trust in the sighted captain. In many ways, this is similar to the total trust that develops between guide dog handlers and their dogs. The blind riders have taught their sighted teammates to accept others who are different, to offer help when needed, and to understand the unique manner in which people without vision perceive the world around them.