Shel­ley Gau­tier

Af­ter a per­fect sea­son, the T1 para­cy­clist is look­ing ahead to Tokyo 2020

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - Q&A - by Tara Nolan

Not only did Shel­ley Gau­tier race to her 14th world cham­pi­onship ti­tle in 2018, the para­cy­clist, who owns the only rac­ing tri­cy­cle in On­tario, swept all six World Cup events – three time tri­als and three road races – to earn a per­fect 360 points. She com­petes in the T1 cat­e­gory, which fea­tures rid­ers who have se­vere im­pair­ment af­fect­ing their bal­ance. (In con­trast, T2 ath­letes are clas­si­fied as hav­ing mod­er­ate loss of sta­bil­ity and func­tion.) In 2001, she crashed while moun­tain bik­ing and sus­tained a se­vere head in­jury. Gau­tier is par­a­lyzed on the right side of her body. In 2009, she be­came the first T1 rider on the Cana­dian para­cy­cling team. Since then, she’s amassed many medals, in­clud­ing bronze in Rio, and nu­mer­ous ti­tles. As Gau­tier pre­pares for win­ter train­ing, she and her train­ing part­ner, Alan Greer, look ahead to the Par­a­lympics in 2020.

You had an in­cred­i­ble 2018 sea­son. What were some high­lights for you? Gau­tier Beat­ing the Rus­sians [ At­theuci­para­cy­clin­groad­world­cham­pi­onships, Gau­tier­beat­sec­ond-placefin­ish­erintheroad­race,yu­lia­si­ba­ga­tova,by8:13and Ol­gat­sy­bul­ska­iaby13:41.] That sur­prised me. The fact that I just stuck to my train­ing plan and I worked out and I did ev­ery­thing I needed to do, it paid back in vic­to­ries.

In 2002, you went from sail­ing recre­ation­ally to com­pet­ing. Did you leave sail­ing to be­come a para­cy­clist? Gau­tier I was para­cy­cling recre­ation­ally, do­ing the Ride for Heart and things like that. I wanted to be a lead in sail­ing, but it was just too dif­fi­cult with one arm and one leg work­ing – sail­ing is re­ally hard. So I went back to what I knew.

Where do you like to put in your bike-train­ing hours? Gau­tier I can’t re­ally do it in down­town Toronto. I ride a bike, but not for rac­ing. I’m from Ni­a­gara Falls, so I ride on the Ni­a­gara Park­way, from Chip­pawa to Fort Erie. I drive about 45 min­utes to an hour and a half to get to Cale­don and Al­ton Mills. The roads are wide, they don’t have a lot of peo­ple on them and I can ride on the road to be safe. It’s re­ally im­por­tant to be safe. I train on the bike five days a week. Four days a week I go to the gym. Win­ter train­ing is in Florida.

Who is on your coach­ing team? Gau­tier I have a coach, Eric Van Den Eynde. And I have a train­ing part­ner, Alan Greer. What he does is he trains with me be­cause to un­load the bike off the car and get air in the tires and all that stuff, that’s very hard for some­one with half her body not work­ing very well, so we’re a team. Greer Be­cause of her pos­i­tive spirit and en­ergy and in­cred­i­ble de­ter­mi­na­tion, she’s been able to at­tract a team of peo­ple who have been with her for more than 10 years now. She has a won­der­ful or­thotics team, and a me­chan­i­cal team, which is from Duke’s Cy­cle in Toronto.

Your or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Shel­ley Gau­tier Para-sport Foun­da­tion, lends hand cy­cles, tri­cy­cles and other equip­ment to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. What in­spired you to start that ini­tia­tive? Gau­tier What I wanted to do was give back to some­thing be­fore I fin­ished rac­ing. So I es­tab­lished the foun­da­tion, so that we could en­cour­age peo­ple to get on a bike, to get out of their homes and see the world through a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

Have you started train­ing for the Tokyo 2020 Par­a­lympic Games? Gau­tier Oh yeah. We’re un­der 24 months. The clock’s tick­ing. Ev­ery year, I go at it hard and I want to do well. I’m go­ing to train in Florida. Greer In Au­gust 2020, Shel­ley will train lightly for two to three weeks in Florida to get heat-ready for Tokyo. As well, as soon as we find out the ex­act course for Tokyo, there will be spe­cial mod­i­fi­ca­tions to Shel­ley’s pro­gram to ac­com­mo­date the type of course it is. This will af­fect her train­ing (de­pend­ing on the course, cor­ner­ing, el­e­va­tion, grade, etc.) and her choice of race bike.

On In­sta­gram, you’ve posted pho­tos of your man­i­cures. Is this some­thing you do be­fore each com­pe­ti­tion? Gau­tier Yes. Rit­ual – they spon­sor me for nails and hair. That’s their way of help­ing me win.

Age Home­town Bikes Turned 50 this past Hal­loweenToronto (from Ni­a­gara Falls)Mari­noni tri­cy­cle, Spe­cial­ized tri­cy­cle Shel­ley Gau­tier races the 2018 Cana­dian cham­pi­onships in Sague­nay, Que.

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