Overcoming the odds to compete on the world stage

Noel Sens on his time trial bike

Noel Sens

Don’t think anyone would say that cycling at any level is easy whether it be commuting, recreational or competition. There are some that go well beyond our understanding of what is required to push ourselves and making sacrifices yet still abound in enjoyment and enthusiasm for the sport of cycling. Michael Taylor and Noel Sens are men of this calibre that in weeks to come combine with 16 other athletes covering all states and 8 staff to leave these shores to represent this nation at the Para Cycling World Titles on the 19 – 22 August 2010 held in Baie-Comeau, Quebec Canada. The make up of the team has a local flavour:

  • 4 Tandem Teams for the blind including Sean Finning (Castlemaine Cycling Club)/Bryce Linores
  • 4 Hand Cyclists including Michael Taylor (Echuca Moama Cycling Club)
  • 10 Solo Cyclists including Noel Sens (Bendigo and District Cycling Club)

Leaving on the 31st July Noel and Michael will attend a training camp from the 2nd-19th August at Bromont a suburb of Montreal.

This is not an open invitation, all athletes had to earn the right to take their rightful place. Their preparation training and attending selection competitions is all a cost to the individual, and their family and supporters. Most Bendigonians at sometime have witnessed Noel Sens on the bike in training and competition and have some appreciation of the dedication and commitment required. Reflect for a moment on a normal week for Michael Taylor, when at home training 7 days a week plus 2 x gym session can really takes it toll. Imagine the efforts of getting up at 4.30am to go training in Echuca twice a week for group training, travel for racing and setting up the bike remembering Michaels disability if not enough of a challenge, as well as helping with the family can be hard – very hard. Michael has just been given another incentive that will placed added pressure on his financial advisor (his beloved wife) as each week and season it is a reality they share – can we afford to stretch ourselves this far. People may assume that athlete’s at this level get paid to race and travel while it’s quite the opposite. In Michael’s words – I suppose the most difficult thing is that “l have the passion, the drive and the will to succeed but l do need some help to pursue it.”

Michael Taylor on his hand cycle

Michael Taylor

Last week while away on a training camp Michael was advised that 2 out of the 4 hand cyclist’s will be going on to London 2012. Fantastic news to get told by the head coach but the realization is the need to work even harder to achieve this goal. The journey for Michael in earning his place involved attending the National Hand cycle Series where he won 3 out of 5 rounds, one of which was the Australian Titles in QLD where Michael placed 1st in the Time Trial (22.5km) and 2nd in the Road Race (52km). He will compete in the Individual Time Trial (11.5 Klm) and a 54 Klm Road Race. Michael is under no illusion that this course is going to be very tough and hilly, at one point the gradient is 18% – that’s hard for anyone let alone a hand cyclist.

Noel’s campaign was attending the Australian Championships at Mooloolaba winning the individual time trial also coming second in the road race and making the allocated times set. Noel has since then been learning to ride a time trial bike being new to him. This is the first time in Noel’s cycling career that track and road have been separated as world championships. In 2003 Noel won gold in the team sprint at the World Para-Cycling Track Titles in Prague in the Czech Republic, 2001 2002 2003 representing Australia at Worlds and European Titles and in 2005 as a coach for the Para-Cycling Team. Noel will be competing in a 23 klm individual time trial and a 60klm road race in C2 category (C1 to C5 is ranging from the greatest disability to the least).

Every sport has it work cut out gaining support and recognition and Michael’s and Noel are not alone. It is a credit to them being in such an little known sport category where they can compete against like for like athlete’s. Both riders compete regularly against able bodied riders and equip themselves admirably, Michael recently won a handicap race at his club with an average speed over 31 klms per hour. Michael has a very big thank you to Noel to for supplying 2 auction items, greatly appreciated!! A special huge thanks to Clint Flanigan and the Echuca Moama Cycling Club for getting behind him with encouragement and support making journey possible.

See you on the road soon God willing.

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