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“We can do it!”

The Kaywald School for mentally and physically disabled children has been running a cycling club as a successful part of its curriculum for several years now. In 2015, a group of students and teachers set a particularly challenging goal for themselves: cycling over the Alps! We joined them for two days of their journey.

 

 
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“Mountainbike-Schiebepassage” read the sign, telling mountain-bikers to get off their bikes and push. Mohammed on the KETTWIESEL CROSS looked over his shoulder at his co-pilot in the TRIX hitched behind him, calling out, “Hey, pedal really hard!” The two boys weren’t holding anything back. Mohammed had the extra support of the Steps motor in the bottom bracket. Every second or third curve revealed a new, magnificent panoramic view of the mountains. As well as how far they still had to climb. A challenging journey. The travellers were from the cycling club of the Kaywald School in the southern German town of Lauffen. Thomas Rienth and his fellow teachers founded the club several years ago.

 

 
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Thanks to generous donations from local companies and the school’s own fundraising organization, the club now has an impressive pool of vehicles at its disposal, including TRIX trikes and PINO tandems. First, the group practices on the school grounds. Then they go on tours in the local area. “Cycling helps students develop more body awareness and even improves social competencies and self esteem,” said the teacher. The cycling club has since become an integral part of the school’s therapeutic programs. Then came the idea for a new, major challenge: crossing the Alps! The teachers’ friends just shook their heads – “no way,” “much too dangerous,” “you’d never make it!”

 

 
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But in July of 2015, there they were: nine students and five chaperones in the middle of the mountains! The route from the Austrian village of Bichlbach to the South Tyrolean town of Merano is 125 miles (200 km) long and climbs to a dizzying 8,200 feet (2,500 m) above sea level! Two PINOs, one CROSS, four TRIX, two mountain bikes, and a normal tandem travelled for five days. The daily rides were incredibly strenuous, but nevertheless, the only complaints that could be heard from students at the breakfast table were “When can we get started?”

 

 
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The group slept in guesthouses along the ancient Roman road Via Claudia Augusta. The view was often too spectacular for words – for example, when they passed Lake Reschen, with the famous church steeple of Graun rising out of the water. With every mile they conquered, an overwhelming team spirit developed in the group of young cyclists. They waited patiently for slower riders, helped each other through the tough spots, and even pushed one another’s trikes if someone couldn’t go on. The HASE BIKES team was in complete awe.

 

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As were many of the residents and hotel owners from the villages they passed. Especially once they saw that the majority of the bike-mountaineering group were young people with disabilities.

 

“It was tremendously strenuous – and tremendously rewarding,” said Rienth after the journey. “Every day, the group grew stronger as a team. And the students learned that they could accomplish things that others, and even they themselves, would have never thought possible. That’s an unbelievably important experience for them.” One mother called him shortly after their return: “How did you do it? My son is a head taller!”

Text: HASE BIKES

 

 
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Everything about the TRIX can be found here.

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