Disabled riders come full cycle with 13,000-mile-plus journey


Tucked in among today's boisterous cavalcade of turkey, pumpkin pie, parades and football is the quiet story of six people challenging themselves and society's notions about the abilities of the disabled.

This afternoon's "World Ride: The Possible Dream" (Ch. 13, 2:30 p.m.) tells the tale of six cyclists--five disabled and one able-bodied--as they crossed the world in 245 days in a journey that was completed last weekend, but whose effects will last a lifetime.

"It's going to take a long time to sort out my overall impressions on what this trip has meant to me. This is an incredible way of going through a mid-life crisis," said David Cornelson, one of the core group to make the entire trip.

The group left Atlanta March 17, traveling through Europe, Siberia, Mongolia and Japan, before riding cross-country over the last six weeks, finishing last weekend at the Washington Monument in Washington, going more than 13,000 miles in total.

Along the way, the group was joined by riders from other countries who came to show their solidarity, including a Russian man named Oleg, who read a paragraph about the ride in his community newspaper, then cycled 400 kilometers to join them.

"He told us, 'We all travel the same road,' and it was so appropriate to what this ride was all about," said Cornelson, a hand cyclist whose spinal cord was severed in a car accident.

Making the presentation even more special is the narration of Charles Kuralt, who returns to television in an extended role for the first time since he left CBS' "Sunday Morning" in May 1994.

Kuralt was coaxed into the narration by a friend whose company was one of the ride's sponsors.

"Watching this film, I was deeply moved, which rarely happens to watching a football game. It's a breathtaking story. It's a tribute to the spirit of those people who made the whole trip," said Kuralt, whose recent heart bypass surgery precluded him from seeing the trip in person."

"World Ride" is a perfect bridge between all the gridiron shenanigans, and sure to be a whole lot more uplifting.

HBO remembers Utley

Tonight's "Inside the NFL" (HBO, 11 p.m.) contains a poignant look at the life of former Detroit Lions offensive lineman Mike Utley, narrated by Curt Gowdy.

Utley was paralyzed below the waist during a 1991 game against the Rams, then in Los Angeles.

"That one play I will never forget. When my head hit the turf, I knew I was in trouble," Utley said. "I couldn't feel my legs and they were burning. I couldn't move my legs, but when I was wheeled off, I wanted to tell people that I'll be back, don't quit. As an athlete to be carried off the field, that is basically humiliation, for me."

The show also includes a report from host Nick Buoniconti that New York Giants coach Dan Reeves will either quit or be fired at the end of this season.

Feeling no pressure

Not to understate the importance of today's Kansas City-Dallas game (Channel 11, 4 p.m.), but to hear the NBC announcers tell it, nothing short of the fate of the AFC is at stake as the teams with the best records in football meet at Texas Stadium.

"If Dallas does beat Kansas City by two touchdowns or more, they would have beaten the top two teams in the AFC in four days," said Paul Maguire, referring to Sunday's Cowboys whipping of the Oakland Raiders. "If that doesn't say something, I don't know what does. The Kansas City Chiefs are not only playing for themselves, but for the pride of the AFC."

Said Phil Simms: "The good thing for us and for everybody is that Kansas City knows that. Maybe the Chiefs will have an emotional burst."

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