Wesley Perler, a senior at Amity Regional High School, spends his spare time helping people who are unable to ride a bicycle on their own to enjoy the freedom of cycling through tandemming. Wesley is a member of the InTandem team based in Central Park, NYC that provides tandem rides primarily for the vision impaired, but also for those with other disabilities. As a member, he has participated in the 2018 Five Boro Ride, riding 40 miles with a blind Google software programmer. He has also given tandem bike presentations at Camp Argo, an autism inclusion camp in Orange, CT, as well as other summer camps for kids with disabilities. Wesley has expanded from the city to the Farmington Canal Trail in Cheshire where he is spreading his joy of cycling to those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in the sport.
Wesley has teamed up with other disabled cyclists including fellow Amity student, Zakarai Schneider. Zakarai has Down Syndrome and other disabilities that prevent him from riding alone. His mother, Irena said, “I want to thank Wesley for the tandem biking. Never thought that Zakarai would be able to handle riding a 2-wheel bike, and tandem biking appears to be a perfect solution for his lack of coordination, and he feels safe. We have a tricycle that he got for the holidays last year, and even getting him to ride a 3-wheeler was a challenge. So, to see him on a tandem bike is truly amazing.” After training Zakarai’s father, Mark, to ride a tandem with his son, Wesley inspired the Schneider family to take multiple trips to Central Park to ride with the InTandem organization.
InTandem is a non-profit organization that provides evening and weekend rides in Central Park and participates in organized cycling events. The organization owns a trailer of tandems and other cycling equipment located in the park. Members are matched with riders of the same skill level and are encouraged to use the equipment outside scheduled rides and events. As a member, Wesley has become involved with marketing the organization through bicycle billboard advertising and expanding the principles of the organization through local rides on the trail system in Connecticut. Wesley’s billboards, which serve as a public service announcement about the organization, are the first of their kind in Central Park and required special permission from the Central Park Conservancy to be pulled through the park.
“I have spent my entire life cycling with my family across the country and hope to spread my love for this sport to the population of disabled persons,” says Wesley. He and his family own multiple tandems, which he uses to ride with his new friends. He also lends them out so that parents can learn how to ride with their special-needs children, with the goal of inspiring them to continue the sport on their own.