As we’re into the Road Cycling races at the 2016 Paralympic Games, and unfortunately they’re not being streamed or broadcast, I’m writing about some of the riders competing in the Time Trials and Road Races. I’ve looked at the Tandem pairs, C1-3 and C4-5 bike riders and the H1-3 and the H4-5 Handcyclists, and now it’s time for the smallest Paracyling category, the tricycle riders.
The main reason a rider would use a trike is if she had a condition that affects her balance, for example Cerebal Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, or a brain injury. Some riders use bikes adapted to three wheels, and others are specially designed for racing. racing trikes can be expensive, are heavier, and less maneuverable than 2 wheel bikes, especially taking corners and on any kind of off-camber surface – although watching the top tricyclists cornering is a thing of beauty. There two subcategories of UCI trike riders, T1 and T2, with T1 riders more effected by their disabilities than the T2s, but their races are combined for the Paralympics, with only 1 gold.
The Tricycle Individual Time Trials are on Wednesday 14th September, and the Road Race is on Friday 16th, and I’ll tell you a little bit about the course underneath the rider information. If you click those links, you’ll get the startlists, live timing for the ITT and hopefully for the Road Race too.
Let’s have a look at some of the riders racing trikes in Rio
Carol Cooke, T2, Australia
Cooke is a Canadian who had worked in the Police Force, including working with in an undercover drug squad, before moving to Australia in 1994 and taking citizenship. She talks about how when she was first diagnosed with MS in 1998, she was told to basically prepared to die – you can watch a video about that, and how she coped with change. But obviously she didn’t, citing cycling as what keeps her out of a wheelchair – and now she’s in Rio, aged 55, racing her third Paralympics
Her first was in Beijing, where she was a Para-rower, before switching to Para-cycling, after buying a trike “on a whim”, and winning gold in the mixed gender T1-2 ITT at the London Games. As a born-and-bred Londoner, I love how she talked about 2012 in this video:
She writes about her journey and her adventures on the blog on her website, and you can also buy her book and follow her twitter – and she has a YouTube here. She does a lot of work raising awareness of MS, and I especially like how she celebrates her team mates and promotes Para-cycling.
You can see the trike she uses here – it’s a standard Liv road bike frame, but with a trike attachment instead of the back wheel, and she uses the same bike for racing and communting.
Marie-Eve Croteau, Canada
She was a sporty child until she was hit by a car when she was 14, and became disabled. She started racing in 2011, but has had a hard road to Rio, including losing the use of both of her legs in 2010 due to a virus, having to miss the London 2012 Paralympics because of a concussion, and an illness in January 2015 that kept her from training or racing – and then in July her trikes were stolen, which could have been a disaster, but after she put up a reward, luckily they were found.
There are two little Québec TV profiles of her here and here, and you can find her best palmares in her Paralympics Canada profile. Off the bike, she works as an Administration and accounting technician for a mental health organisation in Québec, and you can find out more about her on her website.
Hannah Dines, T2, Great Britain
At only 23, she’s the youngest woman racing a trike by quite a way, and although she used a trike to ride to and from school, is still new to racing. She started out as a race runner in Para-athletics, which she explains here, before switching at the end of 2013, and in 2015 won silver in the road race and bronze in the TT at the Maniago round of the Para-Cycing World Cup.
I love the way she talks about her racing experiences, for example in this British Cycling article about getting her call-up to Worlds, because it’s clear she loves racing, and loves the learning and developing she’s doing all the time. Follow her on twitter, where she’s cheering on her British team mates, and generally seeming a really happy, likeable person.
Shelley Gautier, T1, Canada
One of the long-term stars of Tricycling, and one of the ground-breakers of women’s trike riding, Gautier is a 12-time World Champion, most recently winning the 2015 T1 Road Race and ITT, and last year was nominated for the prestigious Laureus Award for the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. For all her success in the Worlds, she’s only ridden 1 ParalympicGames, London, where she was 11th in the Open Time Trial, and 14th in the Road Race, and she’ll be one of the T1 riders who’ll suffer a little bit for having to race with the T2s.
She’s not just a star on the bike – she’s also founded the Shelley Gautier Para-Sport Foundation to help more disabled people in Canada get into para-sports, whether it’s competing at a high level, or realising the can do things like Para-cycling for leisure or fitness. They’ve started with para-cycling and para-sailing, and are planning to expand on from that, and run public sessions as well as helping people find specific adaptations tailored to their disability. It’s really exciting work, have a look at their website,
Jill Walsh, T2, USA
Walsh’s first international Para-cycling race was in 2014, and she’s already become the 2015 T2 Road Race World Champion, and is looking to add Paralympics gold to that, and USA riders can read about her journey. I love this video interview with her about how it felt to be selected for Team USA, and in this Q&A, she talks about the orthotics she uses on her legs to help her ride, and a bit more about the tech.
She describes herself as “a not particularly athletic middle-aged woman, wife, mother of three teenagers, and a retired New York State Trooper.” Follow her on twitter, her facebook is here, and there’s a clip of her racing, and telling her story, on Fox 8.
About the Rio Tricycling
The women Tandem pairs will be racing the 15km Time Trial on Wednesday 14th September, and the 45km Road Race on Saturday 17th – the TT is the P1A course, and the Road Race the P5 course, but I have to admit, these maps don’t make too much sense…
Hopefully there will be livetiming for each race via the Schedule here.
I’ve written a guide on to how to follow the racing, and you can follow the Paralmypian Cyclists on twitter with this list – and you can catch up with all the Rio Track Cycling action in my collection of videos and media.
I’m funded to do my women’s cycling work by my wonderful Patreon supporters – thank you so much!