Legally Blind Cyclist Enters True Grit Race

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)-- Ray Bertram said he noticed his vision start to change years ago.

" I suffer from optic neuropathy. I went to sleep one night and woke up, the vision in one eye was mostly gone.  Years later, I woke up and the vision in my other eye was gone," Bertram said.

He said is considered legally blind but hasn't let that stop him from his enjoying his love of riding a bicycle.

"I decided I would participate in the Big Dam Bridge 100 last September in Little Rock. I've never done an event before," he said. "Basically  I have large dead spots over the surfaces and I am able to see little bits and pieces when I look forward. My mind has to fill in the gaps."

Bertram faced a few challenges during the race.

"Out of 300 riders I came in number 30. I was pleased. There were a couple of times where I thought maybe I need to stop. But each time I kept going and worked my way through it. I couldn't read the signs and I didn't know the route. Every time it came time for a turn I'd have to slow down let somebody else in front of me and follow them and hope they were in the same race that I was," he said.

Bertram has entered the Fort Smith True Grit 100 that will take place this Saturday at Chaffee Crossing. He will ride 42 miles but has enlisted the help of his 10-year -old daughter Wendy.

"When it comes to bike riding she's just a boss," Bertram said.

Wendy will be riding a bike attached to Bertram's.

"I'll be reading the signs or telling him when to turn or stop," Wendy said.

She's quite proud of her dad.

"He just works so hard doing it.  He can't see. He does it anyway," she said.