Cycling gives athlete new outlook and a crack at world?s best
By Tania Phillips
WHEN teenager Bryce Lindores lost his sight in an accident 18 months ago, little did he know it would open a whole new world of opportunities ? including a chance at a world title.
The 19-year-old from Nobby's Beach and his Banora Point "pilot" Stephen Storer, as the sighted rider at the front of the bike is known, were shocked this week when they were selected for the Australian team to compete in the world titles in Switzerland in September.
The pair have been together for just over six months and Lindores has been riding for little more than a year, but in that time they have impressed selectors and are now one of just five teams, including one women's team, off to the titles as part of the Australian squad.
"We got an inkling two weeks ago that it might happen ? it's so great," Storer, a former Murwillumbah Cycle Club member and a winner of the Murwillumbah Banana Festival Criterium said.
Also on the trip will be a team each from Western Australia and NSW, a second team from Queensland, as well as AIScoaches.
It is the trip of a life-time for the pair, but with the determination this hard-training duo has shown, it is unlikely to be their last overseas selection.
Added to the excitement overseas will be Lindores' 20th birthday on September 12. Lindores was a cross country runner before a freak car accident left him totally blind, and he readily admits he would never have considered cycling if he still had his sight.
"No way mate," he said.
"It was my birthday a year ago and my neighbour was at a pub and he asked another blind friend what he should get me. He said 'get him a tandem ? he'll love it.'"
And he did. Lindores took to it like a duck to water. And at a time when most of us would be sitting feeling sorry for ourselves ? Lindores decided it was time for the next challenge.
"I am good friends with Olympian Sarah Carrigan's brother ? she contacted Queensland Cycling and told them I was interested in racing," he said.
"I had been riding six months."
From there he was put in touch with disabled cycling co-ordinator, Paul Martens. Joining the Brisbane-based Victors-Broncos club, he was soon put in touch with Storer, one of Queensland's most consistent riders.
The pair teamed up, and while Storer admits that as a very experienced cyclist he was 'carrying' Lindores in their first couple of training runs ? they are now equal partners.
"I have noticed in the few months that we have been together the amount of power that he puts out has increased incredibly," said Storer, who has given up his individual racing to concentrate on working with Lindores.
"And because I have been riding for so long, his gains are going to be 10 times mine in the next year.
"What Bryce has achieved is an inspiration to everyone."
Just a few months after teaming up the pair were picked for an AIS camp. Three weeks later they were asked back again.
The pair have taken on the twin challenges of road racing as well as the highly skillful velodrome racing.
"Tandem racing on the track - compared to a single bike is very very dangerous," Storer said.
A tandem doesn't have the 'give' of a single bike and, of course, there are no brakes, so crashes can be pretty spectacular ? and the team has broken a fair few bike parts even in their six months together. "We blew out a tyre ? and it took us two laps to stop," Lindores said.