Feb 09, 2016

USABA Tandems Sprint to the Podium at Track Cycling Open

By: Courtney Patterson

Cyclists from across the country met in Carson, California this weekend to compete in the U.S. Paralympic Track Cycling Open. Of the seven tandem cycling teams, only the best would emerge as champions. Many of the stokers on the start list are cross-over athletes and military veterans who became acquainted with the sport through cycling development camps hosted by United States Association of Blind Athletes.

Former track athlete and Paralympic gold medalist in the long jump, Tanner Gers (Phoenix, Ariz.) is a crossover athlete and currently transitioning into track cycling. Gers also got his start after participating in a cycling development camp with USABA. Gers attended the camp in September and won a national title in the pursuit 3 months later with pilot David Swanson (Tucson, Ariz.). This weekend, Roger Ainslie (Fallbrook, Calif.), 2014 SCNCA Elite Track Cycling Champion, served as Gers’ pilot.

Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.), a para-triathlete, crossed over into track cycling when his event was eliminated from the Rio Paralympic program. Though new to track cycling, he and his pilot Benjamin Collins (Chicago, Ill.), were named athletes to watch by U.S. Paralympics at the start of the Open.

“I was very surprised when I heard,” said Scheidies. “We had proven to be strong contenders on the road but not on the track. Just two weeks ago was our first time ever on the track.”

The team finished third in the 4km pursuit final on Saturday but actually finished faster than the 4:42.218 gold medal time.

"Our slow time in the preliminaries left us out of the gold medal final, but we were very encouraged by our 4:39 result in the Bronze medal final,” said Scheidies.

While USABA cycling development camps lure athletes from other sports, the coaches and coordinators recruit military veterans from across the U.S. seeking an outlet in which to compete and excel.

U.S. Army veteran Chester Triplett (Mooresville, N.C.) was introduced to the sport of cycling at a USABA cycling development camp in 2009. He learned about the camp through the VA’s blind rehabilitation center in Birmingham, Alabama. Since the camp, Triplett has won countless medals and this weekend, won GOLD in the kilo and pursuit final with pilot Kyle Knott (Virginia Beach, Va.) against six other men’s tandem teams.

“We overcame a stressful situation our first day here in Carson and demonstrated that we can function as a team on and off the bike,” said Triplett on his personal Facebook. “I can’t believe we did it.”

After attending a USABA cycling development camp in 2012, U.S. Army veteran Shawn Cheshire (Camillus, N.Y.) was identified as emerging talent. She and her pilot, Mackenzie Woodring (Lowell, Mich.), won SILVER at their first race in February 2013, just 6 months after Cheshire was introduced to tandem cycling at the USABA camp. Most recently, the duo won National titles in both the kilo and pursuit.

This weekend, Cheshire and Woodring defended both national titles, finishing less than one second slower than their Nationals time in the kilo and a shaved some seconds off their pursuit finishing 3:47.941.

“I always look forward to opportunities to become a better and stronger athlete and this Open offered that,” said Cheshire. “Every competition gets me one step closer to being the best in the world.”

Cheshire and Triplett were both named to the U.S. Roster for the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships and will travel to next month to represent Team USA in Italy. The 2016 UCI Para-cycling World Track Championships will be held March 17-20 in Montichiari, Italy.

Final Results
Women BVI 3km Pursuit
GOLD – Shawn Cheshire / Pilot Mackenzie Woodring

Men BVI 4km Pursuit
GOLD – Chester Triplett / Pilot Kyle Knott
SILVER – Clark Rachfal / Pilot Liam Donoghue
BRONZE – Aaron Scheidies / Pilot Benjamin Collins
4th – Tanner Gers / Pilot Roger Ainslie
5th – Taylor Lowell / Pilot Mark MacDonald
6th – Ray Middleton / Pilot Christopher Ferris

Women BVI 1km Time Trial
GOLD – Shawn Cheshire / Pilot Mackenzie Woodring

Men BV 1km Time Trial
GOLD – Chester Triplett  / Pilot Kyle Knott
SILVER – Tanner Gers / Pilot Roger Ainslie
BRONZE – Clark Rachfal / Pilot Liam Donoghue
4th – Aaron Scheidies / Pilot Benjamin Collins
5th – Taylor Lowell / Pilot Mark MacDonald
6th – Ray Middleton / Pilot Christopher Ferris


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