HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — For the second consecutive year Huntsville will host the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open.

The event brings hundreds of people to the city and some of the most courageous athletes in the United States to compete in the grueling challenge.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy battle hosted a press conference at Big Spring Park on Thursday. The athletes spent the evening at Research Park getting ready for the event.  

In addition to visually impaired athletes, the sport features those with cerebral palsy, amputations and other physical impairments. However, it doesn’t slow them down from competing in this great event. Paracyclist Travis Gaertner says he has challenged himself to compete in sports most of his life. 

“It was an opportunity for me to get out and learn how to be my best physically. I didn’t have that opportunity in school as much because in able-bodied sports if you go out with a wheelchair, you’re not going to be competitive. You’re also not going to have that opportunity to grow your skill sets and compete at a hirer level. Disabled sports is something right off the bat that enabled me to be free and enabled me to challenge myself and to grow physically and so it’s just been a huge blessing in my life.” 

The paracycling event kicks off at Big Spring Park at 2 p.m. on Friday. Folks are urged to get there early, as most of the surrounding streets will be blocked for the race.