Achilles International duos take grueling and inspiring tandem ride from Salt Lake to St. George – St George News
ST. GEORGE – A 365 mile bike ride from Salt Lake City to St. George was a tick on one man’s bucket list and an inspiring achievement for 11 others.
Six tandem bikes rode through the Vernon Worthen Park pavilion on Thursday evening. On board were six visually impaired runners with their guides, all obviously exhausted after completing the long run that started the previous Sunday.
The business was the brainchild of Ken Duke, who thought of riding the merry-go-round over a year ago. Along with guide Ben Alvord, Duke said the bike ride was a bucket list dream.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Duke, amid hugs and cheers after finishing. “To end this group of people, we became a family. It’s good. We liked it. “
Throughout the trip, the riders had to contend with rain, heat, brutal headwinds, an incredible amount of punctures and semi-trucks slipping past their shoulders at 65 mph – but it was all worth it. worth it, said Duke.
The non-profit Achilles International group helped the other 11 runners make Duke’s dream come true. The organization Also works to empower people with disabilities to harness the athlete in them and fundraise through donations to help athletes with disabilities participate in sporting events.
“Events like these aim to raise awareness, to help people understand that people with disabilities can live, have fun and live life like everyone else,” said Duke, president of the Achilles International chapter in Salt Lake. .
Gail Yarker, a resident of St. George, made the trip with her guide Tyler Fredsall.
“I will remember all the support everyone gave us,” Yarker said. “The entire SAG (Support And Gear) team is shutting down. Everyone has been wonderful.
One family member in particular was delighted with Yarker’s return. His dog Rider was at the lodge, pacing and becoming more and more anxious as the riders approached.
Stephanie Cordova traveled with her brother Nick Cordova as a guide.
“It was amazing to be with my brother,” said Stephanie. “He’s always been such a support for me. I will remember the descents the most, going at 40 mph. It was our reward after climbing these great hills!
A large number of support staff assisted the riders throughout the ride. Four SAG vehicles followed, offering tools and equipment to repair bike breakdowns and fueling cyclists at various stops along the way.
One of those volunteers was Dallas Alvord, a teenager who helped support and also participated during stretches of the ride on his own bike.
“It was really cool to go and ride with the group, help out where I could and ride with it,” he said. “It was fun cheering them on and encouraging each other.”
Some of the runners returned to Vernon Worthen Park on Saturday to run the St. George Marathon with their guides.
Two of the other tandems that completed the ride featured husbands as guides for their wives: the duets of Aaron and Terri Rupe and Steve and Becky Andrews.
The sixth tandem of the trip was driven by Lexie Eddington and her guide Richard Ensign.
“What comes to my mind is mostly camaraderie,” said Duke. “A lot of us didn’t know each other at first, but now we’re all good friends.”
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