Taranaki paracyclist chops wood to raise funds

CHOP IT UP: Stephen Hills is selling wood to raise funds for an overseas cycling event.
YVETTE BATTEN/FAIRFAX NZ

CHOP IT UP: Stephen Hills is selling wood to raise funds for an overseas cycling event.

Competitive racer Stephen Hills is chopping wood and selling it by the trailer load to raise funds for overseas paracycling events.

Despite suffering right-side paralysis and seizures, Stephen, 33, from Taranaki cuts the wood one-handed with an axe.

"He's sold one load and he has other loads to sell, " his father Ashley said.

RE-DESIGNED BIKE: Stephen Hills with his trike.
YVETTE BATTEN/FAIRFAX NZ

RE-DESIGNED BIKE: Stephen Hills with his trike.

From May 31 to June 18 Hills will attend the 2015 UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup in Italy, which will cost more than $7000.

From April 8 to 13 he'll be in Adelaide, Australia, for the UCI Para-Cycling Road Event, which will cost $2345.

Stephen's time-trial bike was recently converted into a leg- propelled trike by his Levin-based coach, Brian Gilbert.

"Competition in the world is so intense, you could say that New Zealand is probably a little bit behind, " Ashley said.

"Stephen has been overseas and the guys over there get so much support for racing. It's their job. Stephen doesn't do that. He's competitive but he's not fulltime. He gets no financial support."

Stephen said he needed to get a podium finish before he received support from Paralympics New Zealand.

"That's when his coach said, 'we'll make a trike. We may be able to get you into the competition like that'.

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"The times are not quite as fast as on a time-trial bike, " Ashley said.

So over the last few months Stephen has been getting used to using the trike, which is just under one metre wide at the back.

He's reached up to 60 kilometres per hour. "He can go quite quick, " Ashley said.

Stephen's ultimate goal is to be selected to attend the Paralympics in Rio in 2016. He learned how to ride a bike 12 years ago and started riding competitively seven years ago.

"I want to be world famous on the world stage, " he said.

Stephen charges $140 per load of firewood and will stack it for an extra fee. He's also approaching several organisations for sponsorship.

"We'll make sure he goes, " Ashley said. "The tickets are booked and we'll back him."

People can also donate to help Stephen by looking up his Stevo Hills Facebook page. For a load of wood ring 752 2779.

 - Taranaki Daily News

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