Mel Behrens powers her way through the World 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships in Canberra. She finished fourth in her age group.
Mel Behrens powers her way through the World 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships in Canberra. She finished fourth in her age group.

Blind rider rises to the challenge

A DOCTOR told Mel Behrens she was going blind 10 years ago.

He told her to take things easy and prepare herself for a life of darkness.

She didn't take advice on board – far from it.

The now 37-year-old Maryborough mum jumped on board a mountain bike of all things.

She was determined she wasn't going to sit back and wait to lose her sight.

Now Behrens, a gym instructor, is not only one of very best riders in Australia, but also the world.

Behrens is currently ranked second in Australia in the 35-39 women's age group and fourth in the world after contesting the World 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships in Canberra.

A fantastic effort when you consider that Behrens is now completely blind in one eye and vision-impaired in the other and she also races against competitors who have no problem with their sight.

She was also diagnosed with muscular dystrophy earlier this year.

But even that wasn't enough to prevent Behrens from contesting her second world titles in the gruelling event.

She finished 10th in 2008 when the titles were held in Canada and she wanted to improve on that performance – and she did through plenty of guts and determination.

The race consisted of a 20km circuit, a track which included plenty of rocky descents and slippery climbs.

Competitors also faced the threat of snakes, spiders, swooping magpies and being knocked off their bikes by kangaroos.

Behrens took it all in her stride and completed 15 laps (300km), something that left her battered and bruised, but so glad she'd done it.

She said one word described the circuit – brutal.

“It was really extremely tough on the body – I am covered in bruises because I fell off heaps of times,” the mother-of-one said.

“You see, I can't see left-hand corners – I can only see straight and up.

“That makes it so hard for me to judge them (left-hand corners), but I battled on.

“I even rode down a 5km descent with a loose front wheel after a crash – I was very lucky that the wheel didn't fall off.

“I was so determined to finish the race because I don't know if I'll ever be able to compete in it again.

“If it was my last bash, then so be it.

“I'm so happy with what I've achieved over the past few years and I hope it will inspire others who might find themselves in my situation to have a go.



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