The U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open, presented by Toyota, arrives  April 8-10, 2022 at Cummings Research Park and downtown Huntsville. The Rocket City is excited to host para-athletes and their families from across the United States and possibly Europe. The three-day event is free for anyone to attend and watch. This is the second year that the U.S. Paralypmics cycling event has taken place in Huntsville. Last year in April, the racers were competing to head to the summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo. 

Here are some important things you should know:

Paralympic Cycling Races

Parlympics 2021 Cummings Research Park
Credit: Gregg Gelmis / We Run Huntsville

Types of Race: There is a broad spectrum of cycle style, and within each category there are classifications based on the athletes’ challenges. Among the cycles:

  • Handcycles, using arm or arm trunk power while in a recumbent position, and another classification in which the athletes are kneeling.
  • Tricycles, for athletes who have balance issues or other restrictions.
  • Tandem cycling, with an able-bodied pilot in front, and a “stoker” in the back who is visually impaired.
  • Traditional two-wheeled cycles.

How to Watch

Paralympics 2021 US Cycling Open
Credit: Gregg Gelmis / We Run Huntsville

To best enjoy the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Downtown Huntsville or Cummings Research Park, you should do a little a little bit of planning.  Here are the course maps.

Friday: The handcycle relay race will take place around Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville. The event begins at 6:00 p.m. and the racers will do three laps from Monroe Street and Clinton Avenue to Church Street and Williams Avenue. Grab some food nearby or head up to the rooftops of Rhythm on Monroe or BarVista to see the races while enjoying a drink.

Saturday / Sunday: Racing starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday and at 12:00 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday will be the time-trial races, with a 15-kilometer lap around Cummings Research Park, then a path through the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, and up and around the McMillian Park Double Helix Trail. The start-finish line is at Columbia High School.

Road races will take place on Sunday, on a 12.1-kilometer course, with races lasting anywhere from two to seven laps, depending upon the category.

View the schedule online.

Paralympic Cycling Huntsville 2021
Credit: Gregg Gelmis / We Run Huntsville

What will I see? The athletes will compete on a variety of cycles and variety of races, from recumbent bikes pedaled by arm-power to tandem cycles in which an able-bodied partner navigates for a visually impaired cyclist.

What should I bring? Make it a picnic. Bring a cooler and camp chairs and a blanket. You’ll be watching from any of a number of spots on the perimeter of Explorer Boulevard -- no crossing the road to watch from inside the track – and you should be weather-prepared. Check the forecast before you leave the house. And, yes, there will be plenty of portable restrooms available along the course.

When should I go? Saturday will be time-trials, beginning at 9 a.m. and lasting until approximately 3:30, with athletes starting at designated increments. So there will be a constant flow of racers in front of you. Sunday’s action begins at 12:00 p.m., racing on a 12.1-kilometer course. The start-finish line is at Columbia High School. 

How should I get there? Enterprise Way, Discovery Drive (coming from Enterprise), Voyager Way and Jan Davis Drive provide the best access to the course and the various parking lots. Avoid Bradford Drive, Farrow Road and Pegasus Drive.

Where do I park? Park at Columbia High School. You'll have to access this throughout the day via Farrow Road and Slauter Road.  An interactive map can assist you with parking. Many of the Cummings Research Park companies on the exterior of the course are providing complimentary parking. These include Sangoma, Collins Aerospace, ASRC Federal/Aviagen/Yorktown Systems Group, TSC, Bridge Street Town Centre, Intrepid, Delta Research, S3, Yulista, Kord Technologies, Lakeside Office Center, Quantum Research and Dynetics.

Paracyling Huntsville
Credit: Gregg Gelmis, We Run Huntsville

Why should I go? We’ll leave this answer up to a couple of the athletes:

“This past year been so tough, you can’t pretend to know what people are going through,” said Travis Gaertner, already a Paralympian medal winner in wheelchair basketball. “If you’ve had a tough year and you’re looking for motivation, you see folks who have pushed through things in their lives who had an excuse not to do anything.”

“Seeing people who were dealt bad hands and just deal with it,” said Samantha Bosco, a two-time bronze medal winner in the 2016 Games. “Seeing it in person and having that personal experience of triumph can change minds across the world. I definitely feel like people should come watch, to cheer us on, to see strength and see adversity and see perseverance. And we love having fans!”

Partnerships:  The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce leveraged a long-time relationship with Medalist Sports, an Atlanta-based sports management group with a history in cycling, to land the event for Huntsville. The City of Huntsville is providing support, and Toyota is the title sponsor. Other sponsors include the Huntsville-Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Raytheon Technologies, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman, and Phoenix along with the Huntsville Sports Commission.

Paralympic Cycling Explained