Blind cyclist back in the saddle after accident

Takaka pair working in tandem

EMMA BEER
Last updated 08:05 18/01/2013
Blind cyclist
YVONNE WATSON
SADDLING UP: Neville Rogers, left and Mike Watson with Neville's new tandem bike.

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Golden Bay blind cyclist Neville Rogers, back in the saddle more than six months after he and a friend were hit by a car, wants drivers to start taking more notice.

Mr Rogers and Paul Michell, both from Takaka, were riding on Abel Tasman Drive last year when a British tourist failed to stop at an intersection and hit the cycling pair.

Mr Rogers said since then both men were doing pretty well and he was keen to get back out on the road on their new bike from Stewarts Cycle City.

"We were thrown off and received deep bruises and Paul broke a piece of his hip. The bike was damaged and we've only just replaced it."

After the bruising subsided, Mr Rogers was able to use a stationary bike at home to begin getting his fitness back up.

"It's a pretty sterile kind of a thing [though], it's a considerable mental effort to stay on. Riding the tandem is very enjoyable, you can converse with someone on the front."

Mr Rogers was introduced to tandem biking about five years ago after his onset of blindness. Previously he had been a cyclist and competed in triathalons.

"My wife and a friend bought one off TradeMe, not a particularly good one, and I took it in to see Mike [Watson] and he said he couldn't do much with it, but could find me another one. We've been riding together since."

He had been lucky to have both Mr Watson and Mr Michell be his ‘pilots' on the bike, and the men had competed in various races in the past few years.

"They're very generous, with time and friendship. That's one of the significant pleasures [of tandem riding], that you get to share quality time with your friend."

The biggest race they had done was Auckland to Wellington over a week, as well as the source to Sea, Grape Ride and Rainbow Rage.

They had even managed a few podium places, and Mr Rogers was quick to point out they did get the same result.

"It's a bit of a joke between us that Mike should get a different place because he comes in a metre ahead of me."

Riding tandem was very much about trust between the two riders, he said.

"It's a trust in one another - I trust them to make good decisions and they trust I will stay still and not do anything stupid."

Although he was not nervous about getting back on the bike, he was sometimes nervous on the road.

"It's always been a bit like that, most traffic is really very courteous, but some traffic is pig ignorant, frankly. Some of them just discard the idea of cyclists, there's even some who will deliberately try to frighten cyclists."

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He said he hoped more drivers would show a little more thoughtfulness and remember that all cyclists are someone's mother, brother, sister or father or child.

"They're real people, not just a target or a nuisance. The reality is that slowing down for a cyclist will add a second to your journey."

- Nelson

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