Cyclist overcomes disability

Peter Smith is a blind cyclist that rides on the back of a tandem (Scott Garrand/WCIV)

By Sonya

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Peter Smith loves riding bikes, but he isn't your average cyclist.

"I'm blind and when I first started going blind I was an athlete and I never stopped doing athletics so I just switched to individual sports," said Peter Smith.

These days, you'll find him on the back of a tandem - a bicycle made for two.

"Tandem cycling is a great opportunity," said Smith. "First of all to show off the fact that cooperation and teamwork will get you where you need to go and secondly for a blind person to be out moving on your own power is liberating."

Saturday you'll find him biking the Connector as part of the James Island Connector Run. And another blind cyclist, Shelby Craig, will be riding too. She is currently a junior at Wando High School.

"She is a natural," said Smith. "She can ride over the Ravenel bridge and basically carry the pilot in the front over the top with her. She is strong."

Both of them have pilots for the ride.{} Philip Whirley is Peter's pilot.

"Riding with Peter is a lot of fun because he is a strong rider which means we can go pretty fast," said Philip Whirley.

While Peter can provide lots of power from the back of the bike, Philip is in charge of the steering and deciding where to go.

"I put my faith in my pilot and God and just go," said Smith. "What's the alternative? Not go? No thank you."

For Peter, cycling is about more then just getting exercise.{} It's also about overcoming his disability.

"We can do many things that other people can do," said Smith. "Most of us can't fly an F 16.{} I can't either, but there are plenty of things I can do and I focus in on those and I never let anything slow me down."

Instead Peter Smith is on the move - guided by the help of a friend.

You can still register for the James Island Connector race Friday at Cannon Park from 2-7 p.m. and Saturday morning before the event.

All of the race proceeds go to the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation, which gives college scholarships to students with physical disabilities.

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