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Festivities begin for 15th annual Tour de Palm Springs

Published On: Feb 08 2013 08:18:36 AM CST
Tour de Palm Springs Underway

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

Festivities for the 15th Tour de Palm Springs will  start downtown Friday.

      The Vendor Expo will begin at noon on North Palm Canyon Drive between  Tahquitz Canyon Way and Alejo Road. The expo -- which also is open Saturday --  includes bike gear and apparel, music, food, a beer and wine garden and  information on cycling programs.

      The Tour, with courses ranging from one to 100 miles, is scheduled to  start at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. More than 10,000 cyclists are expected to  participate, according to spokeswoman Chris Martello.

      Some participants will be cyclists with disabilities, including first- timers the Blind Stokers Club from San Diego. The group pairs two people, one  of them visually impaired, on a tandem bike. The cyclist at the front is the  captain, or pilot, and the rear cyclist is the "stoker," said Blind Stokers  director Dave White.

      "It's a big first for the club, an opportunity to represent a growing  field of cyclists with disabilities and take an out-of-town road trip," White  said.

      He said some club members had ridden in the Tour de Palm Springs before,  but this is the club's first year as a group.

      Twenty cyclists from the San Diego area will ride in 10 teams on 55-and  100-mile routes. This morning, the club will stop at the Braille Institute of  America in Rancho Mirage to teach 15 blind and visually impaired students at  the institute about blind tandem cycling. They will also ride with some of the  students on the 1-mile route on Saturday.

      The Blind Stokers are one of the groups that Incight, a Palm Desert  nonprofit that works people with disabilities, has brought to the Tour de Palm  Springs. Since 2009, Incight has worked with the Tour to include people with  disabilities like amputations, spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy in the  Tour.

      The Tour de Palm Springs raises money for charities local charities,  including Incight. Incight uses the proceeds to buy adaptive sports equipment  such as handcycles, which can start at $1,900.

      Local boxing champion Timothy Bradley Jr. and Olympic cycling medalist  Nelson Vails will participate in the Tour on Saturday, Martello said.

      For information and registration for the Tour de Palm Springs, go to  www.tourdepalmsprings.com or call (760) 674-4700.