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