Originally appeared in Armidale Independent on .

By MATT NICHOLLS

ARMIDALE para-cyclist Andrew Devenish-Meares says he will have to forgo a tilt at the national championships unless he can raise enough money for travel and a new bike.
Devinish-Meares is leading the National Para-Cycling Series after second placings in Toowoomba and Bathurst, but said he was unlikely to make the trip to Echuca next month for the championships.
“It’s a long way to go and very expensive,” he said.
“At the moment I am trying to raise funds for a new bike, as the current bike we have is just not suitable.”
Devinish-Meares became fully-blind around Christmas after his eyesight gradually deteriorated over many years.
His venture into para-cycling started with a bang, but has been held back by a 20-year-old bike that wasn’t made for racing.
“Tandem bikes are expensive,” he said,
“You can pick up a really basic bike from a large retailer in town for around $100. The tandem equivalent is around $600, and this is just for a bike you might take for a short ride a few times a year.”
Devinish-Meares competed with local pilots Dave Rubie and Philip Thomas at the first two rounds of the National Para-cycling Series, where competitors were riding bikes almost half the weight of the Tandem Armidale machine.
“A serious racing tandem that would put us on par with other tandem teams is around $10,000,” he said.
“That’s not for a bottom of the line bike, but it’s really only one step up.
“Our current bike is 20 years old and second-hand – there’s no comparison to what the others were riding.”
A tandem bike has to take the strain of two riders and the forces they generate while peddling.
While riding in Bathurst, the rear wheel of the bike cracked while racing at top speed.
“Bathurst really showed us the other disadvantage of racing on an old bike,” Devinish-Meares said.
“The equipment is much more likely to fail on a 20-year-old bike than on something new.”
To help the Tandem Armidale team raise funds for their new bike and a possible trip to the National Championships, go to http://tandemarmidale.com/support-us