Good Guys: Mark Carhart's InTandem Helps Vision-Impaired Cyclists
September 03, 2014
The Kepos Capital founder and cycling enthusiast co-founded an charity that helps disabled cyclists experience the thrill of the ride.
Many New Yorkers enjoy a weekend cycle through Central Park,
but there are others for whom biking isn’t
possible. Not, at least, without a little help and a tandem
bicycle. On Saturday mornings and some evenings,
InTandem’s volunteers help the visually impaired
and disabled enjoy the exhilaration of biking in the
|| Mark Carhart
The nonprofit InTandem was co-founded by Mark Carhart, CIO of
$1.6 billion hedge fund firm Kepos Capital and former head
of the quantitative and investment strategies unit at Goldman
Sachs Asset Management. "I’m a huge cycling fan,"
he says. "I always look for opportunities to get on a
Now he helps create that opportunity for those who
wouldn’t normally be able to ride. Carhart first
encountered tandem bike riding with the visually impaired 20
years ago, when he lived in Los Angeles and volunteered with a
group that organized rides. When he moved to New York, he
created a one-day project for the Goldman Sachs Community
TeamWorks program (which has organized six tandem-ride days),
along with fellow tandem enthusiast Artie Elefant, who had lost
his sight because of retinitis pigmentosa. They created
InTandem in 2013.
Elefant died last year as a result of complications from
treatment for lymphocytic leukemia. "Riding with him was so
uplifting," Carhart says. "He got me to focus on my family and
friends, and spending time with the people I really love.
We’ve continued in the vision he had."
In tandem cycling the sighted rider, called the captain, rides
on the front, and the visually impaired partner — the
stoker — rides on the back, without the ability to
brake, steer or shift gears. A tandem ride is a different
experience from riding solo, says Carhart, 48. "Usually,
cycling is very solitary," he says. "With tandeming it
doesn’t matter if one person is slower, faster,
stronger or weaker; you’re really a team.
It’s a very exhilarating experience."
InTandem has partnered with organizations like Lighthouse
International, but most of its riders come through
word-of-mouth. The rides are so popular that InTandem always
needs captains. "One of our biggest problems is that volunteers
have limited times to get people out," Carhart says. "We could
use more captains to help ride during the day."
InTandem took part in this year’s TD Five Boro
Bike Tour. The group of 50, on tandem and solo bikes, rode the
40-mile route with 32,000 other cyclists. "It’s a
little hairy in the beginning with so many cyclists," says
Carhart. "But once you’re out on the road,
One of those riders was Crista Earl, 56, who’s
been riding with InTandem since its start. Earl has been
visually impaired since she was eight years old, but she cycled
regularly until her vision deteriorated. She praises InTandem
for providing an experience many visually impaired people
wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. "There are lots of
places in New York City I’ve never been and would
never go without a bike," she says. "Plus, InTandem does all
these fun activities, like the Five Boro ride. When do you get
to do that?"
Carhart says tandem cycling with the visually impaired has been
some of the most rewarding riding he’s done:
"They’re so appreciative of somebody taking the
time to bike with them."