Ride Blind Racing with Bobby McMullen – Episode 42 of The Blind Sport Podcast

That blind guy rides his own mountain bike? Yeah, that’s right. Let’s find out how that works.

Bobby McMullen is vision impaired and has survived diabetes, kidney failure, years of dialysis, two kidney/pancreas transplants, open-heart surgery, and has battled a particularly aggressive form of cancer. He has broken more bones than he can count. In spite of challenges that would take most people out, Bobby lives life full-on. He is a passionate extreme sport competitor – a tenacious adrenaline junkie who competes alongside fully able racers. As a downhill mountain bike racer, his “life support” is the bike.

In 1993, during his first year of law school, Bobby lost his eyesight as a result of complications related to diabetes. It was a sudden loss. He was totally blind in a month.

Undeterred from pursuing his love of competitive sports, Bobby learned to ski with a guide. Within a year he qualified for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. He spent seven years as a member of the U.S. Team, was a two-time U.S. Disabled Overall Downhill champion, and earned his spot on the Nagano Paralympic ski team.

He competed in the 1998 Paralympics in Nagano, Japan, taking fifth place in the Alpine downhill ski competition. He continued to race with the U.S. team until his body rejected his first transplant organs. He endured another two years of dialysis before receiving his second double transplant in 2003.

Through his ski career, Bobby used cycling as a means of balance, strength and endurance conditioning during off-season. He worked with other riders to develop a method of “guide-follow” (similar to that used in skiing) for use in both road and mountain bike riding. He works with a “ride guide” who rides ahead of him and calls out obstacles.

Bobby’s passion is mountain bike downhill competition, though he competes in cross-country races as well. In 2006 he completed the 3,000-mile Race Across America, riding for Team Donate Life to raise money for transplant research.

Bobby’s life and philosophies are subjects of the international award-winning documentary “The Way Bobby Sees It” (Check it out on YouTube)

2012 threw some powerful obstacles in Bobby’s path. He underwent heart bypass surgery to unclog arteries, had a pacemaker inserted in his chest, was diagnosed with cancer that metastasized to his lymph nodes and required multiple surgeries along with a radical regimen of radiation treatments.

Nevertheless, he came through not much worse for wear, still pedalling, still smiling and optimistic. He continued to participate in race events and to motivate others through speaking events.

By participating in these events, Bobby has been able to spread awareness of and appreciation for disabled athletes, to inspire and motivate thousands of people world-wide, and to demonstrate all that is possible in life.

For more information about Bobby visit his website rideblindracing.com

I also include a very special quotation from Bobby.

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Cheers, Mike.