SAN DIEGO — Sometimes you need to lose something to gain perspective.
Chula Vista resident Art Jones lost his sight as an adult, but through a local cycling club, he has gained the opportunity to ride more than ever, and enjoy life more than ever.
“My family was all sad coming to visit me in the hospital, like, why are you guys crying?” Jones said. “I just wanted to go home and shave and shower and go out with my friends. Since then, I’ve just been going and not letting anything stop me.”
Jones lost his eyesight to diabetic retinopathy when he was just 20 years old, but he never let that stop him from pursuing his favorite hobby.
“If there’s something you like, or something you always liked doing, do it,” said Jones. “Try to continue to do it and keep pushing to build yourself up.”
Jones joined the Major Taylor Cycling club in San Diego five years ago and accomplished the state Triple Crown in 2012.
“The California Triple Crown is when you do 200 miles in a single day, and you do three of them in one calendar year,” said Jones. “I’m the first blind person to ever complete that.”
Jones rides a tandem bike with a captain who controls the steering, braking and shifting.
“Depending on the situation, I might tell him to put his foot down, or say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a hill, I need you to stand up.” I’ll coordinate with him,” biking captain John Moore explained.
Jones says cycling has given him a sense of confidence and camaraderie, but he also says it fills a very specific need.
“I love the speed,” Jones said. “I love going fast. The fastest I’ve been on a bike so far is 51 miles an hour.”
“He just smiles through everything,” Moore said. “We’ve gone through tough times on long rides and he just has a great sense of humor, a great attitude .”
At 50 years old, Jones shows no signs of slowing down, choosing every day to embrace his toughest challenge.
“I just love being out with everyone,” Jones said. “People who find out that I’m blind, they either beep their whistles or horns and say, ‘Hey, go for it.’ It’s just really fun being out there safe riding with everyone.”