Enhancing Independence and Building Community through Outdoor Adaptive Cycling” is the mission and motto of one of the state’s first adaptive cycling lending program. Twin Cities Adaptive Cycling or TCAC is a non-profit organization co-founded by bicycling enthusiasts Caitlin “Cato” Bowles-Roth and Tommy Dixon.
They and TCAC volunteers work to increase participation and access to cycling among individuals with disabilities in the Twin Cities, as well as encouraging more diversity amongst urban bicycle riders.
T.C.A.C. is located in South Minneapolis, in a donated space within the CityKid Farm parking lot of Urban Ventures, 2841 5th Ave. S., Minneapolis.. It is adjacent to the Midtown Greenway, a bicycle and pedestrian connection through several neighborhoods.
Drop-in times are 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays and 1-3 p.m. Saturdays. The first ride is free. A small fee is charged for subsequent rides.
Minnesota natives Bowles-Roth and Dixon recently returned from Berkeley, CA. There they spent several years as adaptive cycling program assistants to a model outdoor sports and recreation program, Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program. Bowles-Roth is an occupational therapist who has worked predominately in community-based programs in New York and California. While working for the Bay Area program Bowles-Roth did extensive research about what adaptive cycling programs exist in Minnesota. She found that the programs are small and not urban based, so T.C.A.C. fills this gap in Minnesota adaptive cycling programming.
The current model is a “dropin” or call-ahead program. Patrons request a time and can also specify which bicycle among the fleet of 18 bicycles is preferred. TCAC has six different styles for adults and youth. Wear cycling friendly clothing and bring a water bottle. Helmets can be borrowed from a large selection or riders can bring their own. For the first visit plan on spending 10 minutes filling out personal information and release of liability paperwork. Riders are then fitted with a bicycle, which can take up to an hour on the initial visit.
Patrons are encouraged to bring a companion rider at no extra charge when riding out in the community for the first time. A side-by-side assisted ride with one of the volunteers is also an available option. A huge open space in the fenced parking lot can be used to test ride and practice before taking the bike out on the greenway.
The environment and energy of everyone are full of perseverance, activity, and engagement by individuals with a clear vision and mission. All cyclists are encouraged and supported.
The right bicycle is chosen to fit each individual’s needs. After fitting and adjusting in a process that lasts about 30 minutes, riders can hit the streets or trails. A good fit between a rider and a bicycle is a key to a good experience, and it takes some time to learn which bike is best for a specific rider. Even patrons who haven’t been on a bike for many years will find the right bike and be able to hit the open road.
Dixon and” Bowles-Roth have many aspirations for TCAC. Their plans include a collaboration with Northpoint Health and Wellness Center’s bicycle lending and health awareness through riding program, recruiting more volunteers, and taking riders on riding camping trips. One key need is for a volunteer grant writer.
For more details visit www.TCACYCLING.org.