Special Olympics cycling event will be a first for Vail area
After years of traveling to Grand Junction for regional events, the Wolf Pack Special Olympics cycling team will enjoy its first ever local competition Saturday.
And they’re hoping a lot of people show up to cheer them on, said Wolf Pack coach Tara Picklo.
“You become part of the community just by being there,” Picklo said. “It’s very meaningful.”
The event will kick off in the Battle Mountain High School parking lot at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies, and end at noon with awards. There will be plenty of parking available, and even if you’re only able to cheer on one participant at one moment, your presence has the power to make a big difference, Picklo said.
“You have to experience it to get it,” she said. “To understand that magic.”
Spread like wildfire
Picklo started coaching the Wolf Pack seven years ago.
An avid cyclist and former competition rider herself, she was at a point in her life where she was very enthusiastic about cycling in general.
She described her efforts at the time as a goal to “build the stoke,” and “stoke” is indeed a good word to describe it, because the effort soon spread. The team grew to be the largest on the Western Slope.
“It’s become such a close-knit group,” Picklo said. “The exercise, the practice, you can see the shift in how it brightens their day, and then knowing they’re going to be in a competition really keeps them going.”
Efforts paying off
Getting to that regional competition in Grand Junction over the years hasn’t been easy, however. Proximity, financial constraints, health concerns and many other factors can collide to complicate things, Picklo says.
Through the team’s growth, they found a platform to campaign for a local event, and this year the goal has been realized.
The effort will pay off quite literally, as the trip to Grand Junction is not cheap for a program that gets by on a shoestring. Picklo said transporting the bikes alone could present quite a puzzle as several Wolf Pack cyclists are on custom-made adaptive bikes, trikes and other unconventionally shaped cycles.
“It would be a really long day,” Picklo said. “So this is exciting for us.”
Anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to show up informally at Battle Mountain High School at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Picklo said.
There is an official event page at Facebook.com/SpecialOlympicsColorado/events