Lethbridge resident and para athlete Lowell Taylor is cycling into the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru later this month.
Taylor is among eight para cyclists and three pilots to be representing Canada at the Games. He will be competing in tandem, alongside his pilot, Andrew Davidson.
Taylor has retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition that causes gradual loss of vision. Right now, he has about 10 per cent of his vision remaining and sees through what he describes as a “little tunnel” that gets smaller every day. Eventually, he will lose all of his vision and become fully blind.
“I struggled as a kid not having a lot of meaning and purpose in my life. I struggled with some anxiety, some depression, not really seeing a future of hope,” said Taylor.
“Going blind didn’t seem like a great option. I needed to find some passion in my life and I developed a blind passion for sport. When I started to race, I could feel alive, I could compete at the highest level.”
Sport became Taylor’s outlet growing up and he began cycling on his own for charity. With a little encouragement from his wife, he switched to tandem cycling.
“I was at home by myself with a 19-month-old and a one-month-old baby and I thought: it’s kind of dangerous and scary for anyone to be riding long distances along the highway,” said Julie Taylor, his wife.
“But somebody who’s visually impaired? That terrified me and I didn’t want to become a single mother.
“So, when he got home from that, I said, ‘I love that you do this ride but you are not doing it on your own anymore, let’s do a tandem.’ So we started doing a tandem.”
Julie bought a tandem bicycle on Kijiji and from there, Taylor’s journey to riding competitively began. It started with charity rides with Julie, turned into triathlons, and then national competitions with other pilots. Now, he’ll be competing at the international level at the Parapan Am Games.
“I go into every race wanting to be fully present, to enjoy the experience, to race, to have fun, to push myself to the top level, whatever I can do that day,” said Taylor.
“We’re really hoping for the gold medal though.”
After the Parapan Am Games, Taylor hopes to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.