Norfolk duo attempt challenging tandem race at festival
PUBLISHED: 16:13 25 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 25 June 2019
A GB triathlete from Norfolk will guide a visually impaired Paralympic athlete in a 100-mile tandem ride during the Great British Cycling Festival, which comes to the county this week.
Thomas Levy, who works at the University of East Anglia (UEA) Sportspark as a personal trainer and its Enterprise Centre as a receptionist, is a GB athlete and has been guiding Iain Dawson, who is registered blind, since 2018.
Mr Dawson is a seasoned para-triathlete who competed in the 2000 Sydney Paralympics in track and road cycling and has won three European and six world titles.
Mr Dawson said: "It's a significant ride and Thomas and I have done enough long-distance type events before, but I think the main issue is that it's going to be busy.
"There'll be hundreds and hundreds of people out there and other riders might not appreciate that we are on a tandem. It takes a bit more time for us to stop because we've got twice the weight, and it's not as manoeuvrable around the corners."
The British Cycling Challenge is an open road event hosted during the 2019 HSBC UK National Road Championships and gives people the opportunity to share the road with professional athletes competing in the championships.
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As a visually impaired athlete with a genetic eye condition, Mr Dawson competes alongside a sighted guide who communicates key information to keep him safe.
Mr Levy said : "On a tandem, it's pretty difficult going uphill. The only way to get over hard hills is to grit your teeth and push on.
"However, the best part comes through downhills - doesn't matter how old you are when you start going downhill fast, you feel 10 years old again.
"Riding a tandem for the first time was scary. It was like driving a van when all you've been used to is small go karts. Everything has to be communicated with your counterpart - every corner coming up and every gear change.
"Luckily for me, Iain is one of the most experienced tandem athletes out there so he makes steering super easy."
The 100-mile journey will take the duo from Norwich to the north Norfolk coast and back.
Team UEA team will take part in the British Cycling event in Norwich on Sunday, June 30.