Tue, Sep 10, 2013 | by TJ JuskiewiczShare
A physical disability or visual impairment should not be a barrier to anyone that wants to experience RAGBRAI. That is the philosophy of the Adaptive Sports Iowa Team, the winners of the 2013 Rider Cup.
For the past twenty two years, the Rider Cup Award has been presented to the club or team that best promotes the RIDE RIGHT philosophy before and during RAGBRAI. The Rider Cup will be presented to the Adaptive Sports Iowa Team at the RAGBRAI Route Announcement Party on Saturday, January 25, 2014 in Des Moines.
Adaptive Sports Iowa was created out of the need for specific sports programs for those that are physically disabled in Iowa. The organization was the brainchild of Mike Boone, now Director of ASI, and his wife, Joni.
Having seen the difficulties faced by his blind father throughout his life, Mike grew his passion for adaptive sports programming as a ski instructor in Colorado. Upon moving to Iowa, he found that there was a lack of organized sports and recreational opportunities for those with physical disabilities. Mike and Joni created the Adaptive Sports Iowa concept, and with the help of various individuals, were able to kick off the new organization on March 8, 2011 as part of the Adaptive Sports Iowa Summit and Press Conference.
Adaptive Sports Iowa set out to create a support team that would reduce or eliminate the obstacles athletes would face while participating in RAGBRAI. Issues, for example, related to housing, transportation, route support, etc.
The challenge was to allow these athletes an opportunity to experience RAGBRAI and the culture of the event. By eliminating some of the common stresses that would normally drive people away, these cyclists can now experience RAGBRAI and focus on participation.
“I would not be able to do RAGBRAI without the support of the ASI team,” claims Mark Block of Ankeny. “It is truly an amazing week. We have all been told that we couldn’t do these types of activities, so there are tears of joy and pride of accomplishment that week of RAGBRAI.”
Block’s challenges from his brain injury are possible to overcome on RAGBRAI with the support of the ASI team. He also appreciates the support and gives back by speaking to youth groups about the importance of wearing helmets and riding right.
The goal at the beginning revolved around accessibility, what has been created is so much more then the team could have expected. The most humbling aspect of the team is the response and reaction they have felt from the RAGBRAI community.
During the event, the team becomes advocates. They meet people every day who share their own stories about disability in their lives or to ask questions. Questions like, “How can my daughter with CP do RAGBRAI?” or “My mother just lost her sight, what are some good tips to know when piloting her?”
The team’s roster includes around 50 people divided between 3 categories: cyclist with disabilities, volunteer cyclists and volunteer support crew. This past summer the Adaptive Sports Iowa team had representation from 10 different states, with the largest contingent being from Iowa. Just as the team would not be possible without athletes, they could not function without volunteers. In their short history, ASI has been fortunate to have many dedicated and passionate people support our mission.
“RAGBRAI has such a positive impact on the state of Iowa and all the riders that participate,” states Boone. “We hope that Adaptive Sports Iowa has in turn made an impact on RAGBRAI. We are proud to be a part of this event and hope to participate for many years to come!”
ASI Team member Robert Bailey from Louisiana once overheard a fellow amputee claim, “When I walk I’m an amputee, when I ride I’m normal.” For the past several years Robert rode a recumbent trike. This summer, the double amputee rode an upright two-wheeler every mile and hill of RAGBRAI. “It means I’m normal again!” he concluded!
“We had people lined up in Fort Madison waiting, not leaving the river until they watched the Adaptive Sports Iowa team dip their tires,” proudly stated Boone.
Yes, Mike, the Adaptive Sports Iowa has made an impact on RAGBRAI and Iowans!
For more information on the Adaptive Sports Iowa team, visit their website at http://www.adaptivesportsiowa.org/
Congratulations to the Adaptive Sports Iowa on winning the 2013 Rider Cup!
PAST RIDER CUP AWARD WINNERS
2012: Rawhide Riders
2011: Team Cuisine
2010: The Whiners
2009: Henry County High Wheelers
2008: Air Force Cycling Team
2007: CUBS (Chicago Urban Bicycling Society)
2006: The Dream Team
2005: Team Navy Cycling
2004: Siouxland Cyclists
2003: Marion Road Hogs
2002: Team Achin’ Knee
2001: North Iowa Touring Club
2000: Huff ‘N Puffers
1999: Riverbend Bike Club
1998: Pottawattamie Pedalers
1997: Team Gnarley
1996: Siouxland Cyclists
1995: Bicyclists of Iowa City
1994: Huff ‘N Puffers
1993: Team Skunk
1992: The Killer Bees