Early in 1993 District Court Judge Ruthanne (Randie) Polidori was presiding over a divorce case where the wife had lost her eyesight due to diabetes. The woman was seeking maintenance (alimony) from her husband. The husband’s attorney was trying to avoid a maintenance award and was fiercely cross examining the wife on her financial needs as stated in her financial affidavit. He came upon an item in her affidavit which stated bicycle rental $35.00 a month. He sarcastically asked the wife “What do you need a bicycle for you are blind.” This statement struck the judge as unfeeling and harsh. The judge listened carefully to the answer wherein the wife explained that just because she had lost her sight didn’t mean that she still didn’t want to enjoy things in life like riding a bicycle and that she had found a bicycle shop that rented tandem bicycles and she hoped to be able to ride on the back of a tandem at least once month.
That statement remained in the judge’s mind and after the case was over the judge decided she wanted to donate a tandem bicycle to a Colorado organization which would use the bicycle to provide blind or visually impaired people the opportunity to ride on the back of a tandem. That proved to be more difficult than she thought. After contacting several local bicycle clubs and local chapters of organizations for the blind, all of whom were not interested in doing this, she had just about given up. Then one Sunday morning while reading USA Weekend, a supplement to the Denver Post, she saw a small article about a group in California called Eyecycle which rode tandem bicycles with the blind. She called them up and asked whether they had a Colorado chapter because she wanted to donate a tandem bicycle if they did. Their answer was “No we don’t have a Colorado chapter, but you can start one.” So late in the fall of 1993 Judge Polidori got together a small group of people who worked together to form Colorado Eyecycle. She found an anonymous donor who provided $10,000 of seed money. Part of that money was used to purchase 6 tandem bicycles (which were provided at cost by the manufacturers).
The first ride was held in the spring of 1994 and Colorado Eyecycle has been riding ever since. Colorado Eyecycle is still going strong although the California Eyecycle has long been defunct. Then, as now, Colorado Eyecycle owes its existence to the many dedicated volunteers without whom this organization would not exist.
The mission of Eyecycle Colorado is to enhance the quality of life and independence of our blind and visually impaired stokers by offering organized tandem rides in and around the Denver Metro area. We also promote Club multi day rides for our more experienced sighted captain and blind stoker teams.
To accomplish these goals we recruit and train sighted captains (front seat of the tandem bike) and team them up with a blind or visually impaired stoker (back seat of the tandem bike). Our ride schedule is from May through October and approximately every other Saturday/Sunday for 20 to 40 miles. We use the incredibly well maintained Colorado trails and try to share and communicate its natural beauty. Eyecycle Colorado is a partnership of cycling, communication, and fun!
If you are interested in meeting some other Eyecycle captains you are invited to attend a Captain Meet and Greet on May 22nd from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Colorado Center for the Blind, 2233 West Shepperd Avenue, Littleton, CO.