New Plymouth cyclist Brett Tivers knows the importance of safe cycling.
Now he is using his experience in a career-ending crash to make sure children Southland-wide know it too.
Tivers is assisting the Share the Road team during this year’s PowerNet Tour of Southland. He had been hoping to ride for the team but a crash while racing in America in April has put paid to any chance the professional cyclist will take up the sport professionally again.
“About eight guys went down in front of me apparently… I don’t remember it. I landed straight on my head and it was lights out, then woke up in an ambulance 20 minutes later,” he said.
Almost six months on and he still suffers from what he describes as “brain fatigue”. He gets severe headaches, ringing ears and sees a physio four times a week. And it’s only now he admits his cycling career is over.
“I was always going to ride for Share the Road this year and I was in contact with (team manager) Brendon McDermott saying I hoped to be back on the bike in July, then it was hopefully by August … then I saw a neurologist and it was the rest of the year off the bike … my career is over,” he said.
Rather than miss out on the PowerNet Tour of Southland altogether – a tour Tivers has ridden six times – he has come south again to support the Share the Road team, assisting in a number of ways.
“I think the boys are loving it… I know, as a rider, what I would want while out there on the road and I can get that kind of thing ready for them, have their water bottles ready, everything,” he said.
“I can also share my experience with them, I’ve done this Tour six times, and help Brendon out with tactics. It’s a different side to it, but it’s definitely better than sitting at home.”
Part of the team’s annual build up to the Tour is visiting schools in Southland to share messages of safe cycling. Tivers’ story is hitting a chord with many of the pupils and it’s a story he hopes will have a positive influence.
“The message I really want to put across is how important your helmet is …my helmet saved my life,” he said.
“I’ve been showing the kids my helmet and sharing my story and telling them just how important it is to be safe on your bike.”
McDermott said it was hugely valuable having Tivers’ support of the team this year.
“Obviously we would have loved Brett to have been riding for us but, given that he can’t, it’s great that he has opted to come down and help out during the Tour,” he said.
“He’s really helping the guys out, he knows what they’re going through and that’s having a really positive influence on the whole team.”
Share the Road’s Sam Witmitz has been dominating the sprints during this week’s Tour and has maintained a stronghold on the Harcourts Sprint Ace jersey. McDermott has been pleased with the performance of the team to date and is keen to see Witmitz continue his sprint supremacy today with a 167km stage from Invercargill to Gore that includes more than 20 sprints.