Last week I wrote about some of the Paralympic cyclists I follow, on twitter, their blogs and tumblr – and I asked on twitter if anyone has any recommendations for more. And I’ve got some really great replies! Thankyou! I always love new things to read, and wow, these are some riders who know how to tell their stories. If anyone has any more recommendations for me, please let me know, here, or on twitter
Karen Darke – Great Britain
I’m embarrassed to admit I can’t remember who recommended handcyclist Karen Darke’s website to me, but it’s a really great one. Check out this video that tells her story, on her website biography page, and you’ll find out all about her – and don’t stop with the video, that page is full of her words and photos – really inspirational stuff.
Darke will be racing the H 1-3 road race and the H1-2 Timetrial, in her first ever Paralympics (I liked this interview with her on the Channel 4 website, where she laughs at herself for thinking she could have raced in 2008). She won 3 silvers and a bronze in this year’s Para-Cycling World Cups in the H2 categories, and a silver and a bronze in the H2 in last year’s Para-cycling World Championships, so it’ll be fun to see what she can do here – and you can follow her on an impressive range of social media! She really embraces the online world – though her her blog on her excellent website, her twitter at @kdarke and her flickr – and you can even buy her books If You Fall… and Boundless from her website (including for e-readers, of course!). And don’t stop following her after the Paralympics, because she’s got big plans for 2013, too. She wants to compete in an Iron Man triathlon and ski to the South Pole, raising money for the Back Up Trust…. find out more about that plan from this little video, and more at PoleofPossibility.com
Allison Jones – USA
Another rider with a great website is Thursday’s bronze medallist in the C1-2-3 Individual Pursuit – USA’s Allison Jones. She came third behind Sini Zeng of China and Australia’s Simone Kennedy, giving her her fifth medal over six Paralympic Games, with is impressive for someone who’s just 28… but then you have to know, two of those Games are Winter Paralympics, because she’s also a skiier.
The biography on her site tells the story of how, after her lower leg was amputated when she was 9 months old, her parents started her skiing when she was 5 years old – and how, when she started cycling as a kid, they duct-taped her foot to the pedals to keep her on…. actually, just go and read the whole thing, I know you’ll like it.
You’ll also like her blog (I really liked her innovative transport solution to help her on her journey to and around London), which has stories from her racing, and from her everyday life – and you can follow her through the Paralympics and beyond on her twitter at @Jonezyrocks – and cheer for her next week in the C1-3 road race and C1-3 Time Trial. Huge thanks to @meganmariekelly for recommending Jones’ blog and twitter, I’m going to really enjoy delving back through her stories, and following her in the future.
Jennifer Schuble – USA
Before the road races, however, there are still more track events to come – and here we’ll see Jones’ USA team-mate, Jennifer Schuble, racing for a second track medal in the C1-5 Team Sprint, after winning silver in the C4-5 500m time trial, before turning her focus the road. She’s a 5 times Para-Cycling World Champion and 2008 Paralympic gold medallist, who also races – and wins medals – in the USA Masters National Championships on the track.
She’s got a website (read all about all her achievements – and how she got to the Paralympics – on her bio) and she used to blog there – but what you should really do is follow her excellent twitter, @JenniferSchuble. She was tweeting lots of photos, too, in the run-up to the Games, and that “backstage” view always intrigues me, so I’m really happy to have found her twitter.
Jayme Paris – Australia
Next up is a young Australian I really admire. Jayme Paris is the only rider in the C1 category, so when she rides the Para-cycling World Cups and World Championships, she can never win the medals or the rainbow stripes – but she’s always still there, racing and pushing herself to beat her own times. I was so, so happy to see her win bronze in the C1-3 500m Time Trial – a brilliant reward for all that hard work and determination. And wouldn’t you know it, she’s also online! She tweets as @CyclebabeC1, and she has a blog, her likes and dislikes and the story of “how I became me” on her website, too. It’ll be interesting to see how she goes on the road – but I’ll be cheering her on, all the way!
Alyda Norbruis – Netherlands
Coming in above Paris to win the silver in the C1-3 500m, and behind race winner Yin He of China, is Dutch cyclist Alyda Norbruis. Norbruis is pretty new to cycling – she competed for years in basketball and Alpine skiing, but her dream was to compete in the Paralympics – and when she couldn’t qualify for the Dutch Winter Paralympic team for 2010, she decided to look elsewhere for another chance – and one of the sports she explored was cycling. She quickly fell in love with the bike and the sport, riding in all weathers, and found she got better and better on the track, becoming World Champion in the 500m, and taking home a silver in the Pursuit from the 2012 World Championships, cementing her selection for London…. that silver medal must be a dream come true! Read about her journey (which also includes details of the adaptations on her bike that enable her to race on the road) on her website (as always, google translate can help you if you don’t read Dutch). She’s already thinking about Rio in 2016, so watch out for her!
Laura de Vaan – Netherlands
Another Dutch rider to follow is handcyclist Laura de Vaan, who’ll be racing on the road in the H4 category. She lives in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and if that sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s the birthplace of Dutch superstar, Marianne Vos!
She became disabled after falling down some stairs, but always had been very sporty, so took up various different wheelchair sports before trying handcycling in 2004, and competed in Beijing, where she came 5th in the road race. Since then, she’s been making incremental improvements – bronze in the 2009 World Champs road race and silver in the time trial; 2 silvers in the 2010 Worlds; and a gold in the 2011 time trial. Can she improve on that in London next week? Follow her as we find out, on her twitter @LauradeVaan and through her blog on her website
Muffy Davis – USA
The next handcyclist on my list is Marianna Davis, aka Muffy. She’s another American racer who’s also won skiing medals in the Winter Paralympic Games. David had been one of the top-ranked junior American skiiers in the 1980s, and it looked like she’d be competing internationally, until a skiing accident left her paralysed from the chest down. She continued skiing, and won a bronze medal in the Nagano Winter Paralympics, and three silvers in Salt Lake City in 2002, before she took time out to have her daughter, and turn to handcycling. This is her first Summer Paralympics – and just like Karen Darke, also loves climbing and adventuring – in 2002 Davis was the first female paraplegic mountaineer to climb a mountain over 14,000 feet when she successfully scaled California’s Mt. Shasta with three other paraplegic climbers.
MarieClaude Molnar – Canada
Next up, Canadian Marie-Claude Molnar, who’d started cycling at three years old, as well as playing (ice) hockey, in true Canadian style. She’d always dreamed of competing in the Olympics, and said:
“My best friend from elementary school always called me ‘Indy’ because I would do little stunts when I was younger. Then she nicknamed me ‘Lancie’ as I was putting in the kilometers on the bike for the sake of knowing how far I could go.”
She was 21 when she was hit by a car in 2005, leaving her with a brain injury – and because she’d loved cycling so much, turned to para-cycling, and re-ignited her goal of racing at the Games. She came 10th on the track in the 500m, and 4th in the C4 Individual Pursuit – on the road, she’ll be in the C4 Time Trial and the C4-5 Road Race. Follow her on her facebook and er twitter @mariecmolnar
Megan Fisher – USA
Racing against Molnar will be American Megan Fisher, who you might remember from the C4 Individual Pursuit podium, where she was flanked by Australians Sue Powell and Alex Green as she took her silver medal. Her twitter, @GoMegFisher, is full of happiness and excitement about the Games – and some great photos. This is her first Games – she’s also a Paratriathlete, who loves to ski and snowboard in her spare time, and a physical therapy student. She’ll be enjoying herself hugely in London, I’m sure.
Crystal Lane – Great Britain
Racing against Fisher and Molnar in the C4-5 Road Race will be young Brit, Crystal Lane, who just missed a medal, coming 4th in the C5 Individual Pursuit. She’s also one of the fantastic British paracyclists, along with Karen Darke, whoare in this great video Jody Cundy made and posted on youtube…. as they couldn’t be at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, as they were racing the next day, they took this opportunity to say hello:
Isn’t that great? Lane is a former footballer who was inspired by Sarah Storey to apply for a British Cycling Talent ID programme, and rode her first big race in 2011, winning the bronze in the 2011 Para-cycling World Championships. You can follow her on twitter – @CrystalLane – big thanks @benzooki for the recommendation!
If you want a simple way to follow all of these cyclists on twitter, I’ve made a list of the tweeting Paralympic cyclists – and you can read about the Paralympians I featured earlier in my social media series, right here on the site! And, as always, if I’ve missed any more riders off who I really should be following, let me know – here, or on twitter. I always want more recommendations!