Cycology event Thursday will help send bikers to CA

(WBIR-Maryville) Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone is connected in six or fewer steps through people they know and mutual friends.

Emily Stroud has a small world story that connects East Tennessee to California with a common cause.

In 2010 Sue Buckley from Knoxville traveled to San Diego for a two day, 200 mile, tandem bicycle ride.

"It was the Blind Stokers Club of California that invited me to go out and ride tandems with my peers who are blind and visually impaired to raise money for the Cycling for Sight, which helps people who are blind and visually impaired in San Diego learn to live independently after they lose their vision," Sue Buckley said.

On that trip she became friends with Dave White who founded the Blind Stokers Club of California. He set up a data base online to match people who can see with people who cannot see who want to ride tandem bikes. And that site plays a prominent role in this story...

Ed Flanagan said, "I was just listening to the radio one day, driving to work probably, and heard them talking about the Blind Stokers Club in San Diego. So I thought I'm a tandem rider, my wife and I ride the tandem, so I thought that sounds like something I could get plugged in to."

So Ed Flanagan from Knoxville filled out an online form on that California website.

Sue remembered, "Dave White said I can't believe this. He lives in your zip code. And he matched us up."

Ed said, "The next thing I knew I got a call from Sue about Club VIBES here in Knoxville. I had no idea there was anything like Club VIBES in Knoxville."

Club VIBES is a non-profit organization Sue founded to mentor blind and visually impaired people. Riding tandem bicycles with a blind person on back as stoker and a sighted person in front to pilot is one way they learn to be independent.

"I've been riding with the club and participating in some of the rides that they do," Ed said. "It's rewarding to let someone else have the pleasure of riding a bike who otherwise couldn't do that."

Cycology Bicycles in Maryville is holding a fundraiser for Club VIBES Thursday night at 6:00, Pint Night. It's not surprising because Dave Penegar from the store trained Sue for that ride in 2010.

You can't just ride 200 miles without preparing. So Dave helped me locally get ready and then ride it with me in California," Sue said.

It's four years later and Sue is about to head back to California. This time a dozen Club VIBES team members will tandem bike in San Diego, including Ed.

"He's going to California with us this year," Sue said. "He's going to go out there and do the same ride that I did in 2010. It's kind of like a reunion for me to go back and see the peers and taking some of the pilots here in Knoxville all the way out there to ride."

And so this small world story comes full circle as the wheels of their bikes go round and round.

While the Club VIBES members are in California for the tandem bike ride they also plan to take surfing lessons from the Challenged Athletes Foundation.


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