Paralympic medallist James Brown is testament to the fact that you can be a serious cyclist and have an electric bike.
Winning the Bronze medal at the 2012 Paralympics for the tandem road time trial, James, who is partially sighted, has also competed in thirteen world championships in different sports during his career; including track events, cross country skiing and cycling.
With four Paralympic Games, seven World Championships and two European Championships under his belt, James continues to train as a full-time athlete, with support from the Irish Sports Council. At nearly fifty, James puts continued improvements in his athletic performance partly down to his work with his strength and conditioning coach, David Conlon, as well as training on a static bike and on a tandem.
It was in May 2014, while training on a tandem that James had a bad crash and was airlifted to hospital with a broken collar bone and five broken ribs. Not wanting to stay cooped up at home afterwards, he bought his ‘Pedego City Commuter’ for recuperation purposes and now uses it every day.
‘The Pedego allows me to do things I could never do before and the world has opened up. I can’t use a car but now I can jump on the bike and I’ve got a great little trailer for it. On a conventional bike you are quite limited as to what you can carry but the Pedego is robust enough for towing,’ he explains.
James likes to support local businesses and uses his bike for shopping in the area around his home in Stonehouse. He uses his Pedego for trips to the gym and has taken the bike on the train for longer journeys. Visiting his girlfriend in Wiltshire, 47 miles away, is also possible with the Classic City Commuter Electric Bike, and James has found that he still has battery life left in his Pedego after making this trip.
A strong advocate of pedal power, James points out that being a professional cyclist doesn’t exclude you from also using an electric bike:
‘I’m very keen to see more bikes on the road. A bike revolution is happening in the UK and I think that electric bikes will offer a significant contribution to an explosion of bike use, for all sorts of reasons.’
Despite his crash in May, James was able to compete in tandem track cycling, for Northern Ireland, in the 2014 Commonwealth games:
‘It was the first event of this kind to allow para-athletes and mainstream athletes to be together in the same games. It gave great exposure to tandem events on the track and it was a great feeling to take part in such an historic event,’ he says.
Following the games, James is taking a break, for now, from competitive cycling. Rather than taking it easy, however, he’s planning a world record attempt…
By Lara Piper