The Tennessee Paracycling Open being held in Oak Ridge this weekend is a three-race event for disabled cyclists. It’s June 25-26, and there is a learn-to-race class on June 24 for new riders.
This year’s registration list includes many national champions and U.S. National Team members, who are using the event to prepare for the July 2 Rio Paralympic Trials, a press release said.
The athletes, many of whom are disabled veterans, compete in several classes, on handcycles (for those with amputations or paralysis), tandem bicycles (with visually impaired stokers on the back, and sighted pilots on the front, and both powering the bike), and upright bicycles, for those with amputations of one or more limbs, neurological deficits, or other disabilities.
TPO is one of six events in the USA Paralympic Cycling series. It is the final event in the series before the Paralympic Trial selection race in Charlotte on July 2, so it’s final preparation for many Rio Paralympics hopefuls, the press release said.
The events are:
- Saturday, June 25, 8-10 a.m.—20-kilometer time trial, which is an individual race against the clock. The Oak Ridge course is known as a fast one, and the riders will be looking for personal records.
Location: Heritage Center loop, Highway 58 west to Bear Creek Road to Highway 95, back to Heritage Center, with the finish line on Highway 58 in western Oak Ridge. Spectators can park along Renovare Boulevard and watch the athletes warm up and start and finish on Highway 58.
- Saturday, June 25, 2-5 p.m.—timed circuit races for all classes. Best spectator event! These are mass start races in which tactics and cornering speed are key elements. The racers will be tightly packed at the start, drafting each other in close quarters, and trying to break away to win, the press release said. “The handcycle races, especially, will be exciting as the racers compete in low slung alloy and carbon composite machines akin to human powered Indy Cars, and will exceed 30 mph at times!” the release said.
Location: Novus Road and Renovare Boulevard.
- Sunday, June 26, 8 a.m.—road races from 20 to 44 miles. Start/finish located at 1310 Bear Creek Road, southwest of Oak Ridge. The road races emphasize endurance and tactics, but will often finish in mass sprints. After the previous days’ two events, the riders will be feeling fatigued, but will still carry impressive average speeds, up to 27 mph for the tandems, the release said.
The Tennessee Paracycling Open, or TPO, always needs volunteers to come out and support the race and the participants. Get a complimentary volunteer shirt while supplies last, the press release said. Please sign up at this site: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0545adad2ca4fc1-2016.
Volunteers need to arrive at the venues listed above an hour before the event they’re going to work. Corner marshals, athlete assistants, and other helpers are needed, the release said.
TPO is underwritten by grants from the USA Paralympics in conjunction with the Neilsen Foundation for people with spinal cord injuries, and the following sponsors:
- Carbonbikes USA
- Explore Oak Ridge
- US Military Endurance Sports
- Paralyzed Veterans Racing Team
- The Center for Laser Dentistry
- Home Depot of Oak Ridge
- Comfort Inn-Oak Ridge
- The Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains
For more volunteer information, contact Gary Kinder at (865) 556-6087.
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