Simon Richardson back on the bike after crash

'Make-or-break' op in September vital to cycling career

Simon Richardson, the Paralympic cyclist left with life-threatening injuries following a hit-and-run crash last August, was back riding the track last weekend.

The Welshman rode three and a half miles during the SimonStrong Trackathon at Newport velodrome, a charity campaign he's set up in support of Wales Air Ambulance, the service that played a significant part in saving his life.

Despite still very much rehabilitating from his injuries, the Beijing gold medallist was happy to be back in the saddle, despite the pain it caused. He told BikeRadar the scoliosis (curvature of the spine) he's developed since the crash was causing his back to collapse, a problem which he hopes to have corrected in a make-or-break operation in September.

"I'm optimistic [about the op] but realistic," he said. "It's all about my health but if I get back on the bike it'll be a bonus."

The indefatigable Richardson, who suffered his first serious cycling accident back in 2001, believes he could become a hand cyclist following the operation, but retains belief that he'll be able to ride a two-wheeler. The rods in his back, a consequence of the op, will rule out the time trial tuck position and instead he aims to adopt a more upright posture.

In the meantime he'll play a part in carrying the Paralympic flame, a 24-hour relay from 28 and 29 August between Stoke Mandeville and the Olympic Stadium.

A total of 1,548 miles, just shy of the 1,700 target, were ridden through the night during the 10-hour Trackathon, raising nearly a £1,000. Further events are taking place around the UK this year, including the 24hr Trackathon in November (venue to be confirmed). Click here for more details.

After early cycling flirtations with the Tour de France on childhood holidays, John Whitney fell for it hook, line and sinker in his mid-20s as an escape from the more sedate sports of his youth. As a classically trained news reporter, he snagged his dream job as a cycling writer straight out of college and is now fully immersed in the industry and wouldn't have it any other way.
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