Para-cyclist Gautier returns to Pine Island for training
There’s a familiar sight along the Pine Island bike paths. Shelly Gautier, para-cyclist, has returned to Pine Island to begin her training for the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the summer of 2016.
Para-cycling is a disability cycling process governed by the Union Cyclist Internationale covering four functional disability types. The classification system includes classes for hand-cycles for people who have lower limb mobility issues. Gautier utilizes a three-wheeled cycle.
“I am Canadian from Toronto,” Gautier said. “I was always involved in sports when I was in school. Then when I went to university, I participated in ice hockey and soccer. When I went to the University of Toronto I got involved in mountain biking. I have a physical education degree and a physiotherapy degree. Before my accident I was a practicing physiotherapist.”
In 2001, Gautier, at the age of 23, was severely injured in a mountain bike accident.
“I was in Vermont on the day before my first wedding anniversary and I was mountain biking on mountain snow and I wiped out,” Gautier said. “I don’t remember much, I spent six weeks in a coma and eight months in the hospital. I am paralyzed on my right side. If I was in a wheel chair it would have been better for me.”
Gautier’s disability hasn’t stopped her from cycling. When she came home from the hospital she purchased a recumbent tricycle and by 2007 she was competing as an amateur. By 2010 Gautier started competing at an elite level.
“I got involved in raising money for different charities,” Gautier said.
“I am training for the Rio Paralympic Games next summer,” Gautier said. “More than 4,000 athletes from 176 countries will compete in the 11-day event.”
Last year was Gautier’s first on Pine Island.
“When we needed a winter training environment that was quiet, I knew Pine Island would be the ideal place for us,” trainer Alan Greer said. “It is impossible to train in the Cape or Fort Myers because of the traffic but Pine Island has turned out even better that we expected. Not only the environment but the people have been so welcoming and very supportive.”
Gautier trains 5 days a week with Mondays and Thursdays off.
“I would like to thank the people of Pine Island first for putting in the cycle paths,” Gautier said. “Those paths create a safe environment for all cyclists and in addition to the paths the people have been very kind. After training here last year, I looked forward to coming back. Pine Island has been great.”
Shelley Gautier training on Pine Island.