Roundup Happiness Is Huntsville
by Patrick Donnelly
The top paracyclists in the country finally got a chance to return to competition last weekend. The U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open was held in Huntsville, Alabama, on April 17-18. It was the first time in over a year that most of these elite cyclists were able to get back on the road or track in something more intense than training mode.
Take The Kids
Leading up to the U.S. ParalympicsCycling Open, a prominent family blogger wrote about why parents should consider taking their kids to Huntsville to watch all the action. The blog also includes a bio on the athletes competing — including Oksana Masters — to help readers get to know them.
Here’s a snippet:
“When kids see people of every ability perform in the sports arena it does a lot to foster the belief that we are all just people, put here to encourage and take care of each other. A fun way to get the kids even more involved is to make some homemade signs cheering on the athletes.”
Also in the runup to the event, Huntsville-area TV station WAFF previewed the competition. The story included an interview with Pennsylvania native Brandon Lyons, who discussed the mental and physical benefits of getting back to a more regular competitive schedule.
Brown Looks To Pay It Forward
Clara Brown, one of the double-gold winners in Huntsville, spoke to Bicycling.com about her experiences modifying bikes to suit her specifications. She didn’t even know it was possible to make some of the changes until a friend showed her how to do it.
“Building a bike with my specific needs in mind was such a game-changer,” Brown said. “When you look at my bike it looks pretty normal, and I just had a few tweaks that changed everything, so that I can control the whole bike with my left side. But for a long time I had no idea that was even an option.”
Now she wants to make sure other bikers know that such opportunities are available to them, too. And she’s paying it forward with her involvement with Outride, an organization that helps bring biking opportunities to children to help improve their physical and emotional health.
Josie Fouts Finds The Spotlight
Josie Fouts was the focus of two different features this month that helped introduce the 26-year-old, two-time U.S. Paralympics champion to the world. First, she took part in a Q&A with Gear Junkie in which she discusses life as a para athlete and the bike she built for “Go Josie,” a film made by gear manufacturer Pearl Izumi.
Then, she did a deeper dive with PinkBike.com, in which she got philosophical about bigger issues in the sport, including her hopes of the eventual addition of mountain biking to the Paralympics.
“Advocating for para-MTBing is important for me because I see it as how I can give back to the sport,” Fouts said. “Cycling has taught me so much about myself. Lesson one was that I am drawn to the roads less traveled: I’d rather take the long way to a destination instead of the most direct or popular, especially if it has a hard climb and great view from the top. This is a great mindset for long training rides with friends because all I have to do is keep riding my bike, point out the best views, and I’m inspiring everyone to keep pedaling! However, this mindset gets me into sticky situations when I’m riding alone in new places: an easy 2-hour ride turns into an all-day battle for survival.”
Alabaman Jennifer Schuble tweeted her gratitude after a big weekend for paracycling in her home state.
That’s a wrap for @usparacycling open. First race since my wreck & 🥇TT in C5 category!. It was extra motivation to comeback and race with it being in my home state Alabama. Thank you city of Huntsville for hosting this event. Huntsville put a world🌎 class event on for Team USA! pic.twitter.com/XquCjodbMF
— Jennifer Schuble (@JenniferSchuble) April 18, 2021
Over on Instagram, Sam Bosco pointed out “RacingIsBack and it feels pretty good.”