Scott McPhee - World Champion Pilot
When we talk about pilots, we typically picture a middle-aged man wearing wings on his shoulders, cap under arm, ready to take a 350 ton passenger aircraft to flight.
But while on a recce at the Adelaide Super-Drome and Cycling Australia's High Performance Centre in preparation for the Subaru Cycling Australia Track National Championships, we met a pilot of a different kind.
Scott McPhee, a twenty-one year old law student has been cycling competitively since the age of 14. As a native of Adelaide, he rides with SASI (South Australian Sports Institute). On our arrival he is sitting patiently in the middle of an empty velodrome (we’re 45 minutes late) prepped to take us on a ride introducing us to the world of Para-cycling, and inspiring ambition.
It doesn't take long to work out that this quietly confident, articulate and clearly gifted athlete is going to be a great ambassador for cycling in the future. He is already wearing a one-piece skin suit decorated with the rainbow bands that only the best in the world are privileged enough to wear.
Scott is a pilot — not of a two-winged craft, but a two-wheeled tandem. In 2011, he partnered with Australia's most awarded Paralympian, Kieran Modra, for the Para-cycling World Track Championships in Italy bringing home the gold medal and breaking the world record in the 4km Tandem Pursuit. At the recently contested 2012 Los Angeles Track World Champs, Scott successfully partnered with Bryce Lindores* to secure the rainbow jersey for yet another year.
Not surprisingly, the law degree is on hold to pursue any athlete's dream — Gold at the London Paralympics in September.
Aside from his medal-winning performances he is a stand out in terms of his maturity and selflessness and clearly grateful for the opportunity presented to him at such a young age. While team strategy is essential in racing, cyclists typically only have themselves to worry about. As amazing as Simon Gerrans and Shane Perkins are, neither of them has another person attached for whom they are accountable in both racing and training. What's more, Scott is passionate when talking about his partnership with Modra, ranking this as his most gratifying and growing experience so far in his cycling career.
For the uninitiated, Tandem cycling is an adrenalin junkie's dream if you can get into it. Where a sole rider such as Jack Bobridge (Commonwealth and World Champion) may generate 500 watts of power, the dynamic tandem duo will produce twice that, reaching speeds of up to 60km/hr on the track.
As Scott explains "...when we take the tandem out on able-bodied bunch rides, they sit on the back of us and we're much like a motor bike with everyone lined up behind just trying to hang on."
At London 2012, there were 50 medals awarded in the Para-cycling category, 32 on the road and 18 on the track. While the Paralympics may not be as widely followed, Scott should know he now has a few more fans, especially at Subaru, cheering him on.
*Modra had to sit out this year due to an unfortunate bike accident on his way to work.
- Within three months of taking up competitive cycling, a young Shane Perkins had won two gold medals
- Cycling Australia's Elite Female Road Cyclist of the Year for 2011.
- International BMX star and multi-dicipline World Champion.