Steve Bate is a Paralympic cyclist and a member of our Alpkiteer team. Last year Chris Prescott of Dark Sky Media decided to tell his story.
The film, FOCUS, premiered at Banff Mountain Film Festival earlier this year and had a UK premier at Kendal Mountain Festival last month.
Focus is Steve's story, from his diagnosis in 2011, with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a severe form of tunnel vision that caused a 95% loss of his vision and will eventually lead to him going blind. Having always led an active lifestyle and with a deep rooted love of the outdoors the diagnosis was a crushing blow; at the age of 34 he lost his driving licence and was registered visually impaired.
Determined not to let the diagnosis bring an end to his former lifestyle Steve began a journey of challenge and discovery, getting off the sofa and pursuing his dreams. Two years after his diagnosis Steve travelled to the USA and the Yosemite valley with the goal of climbing the 3000ft wall of El Capitan. After two ascents of El Cap with aid climbing guru Andy Kirkpatrick, Steve spent 6 days on the wall and became the first visually impaired person to aid solo 'Zodiac', a 16 pitch route on El Cap's South-East face.
Returning from Yosemite Steve felt a new goal was needed and decided to change his focus to track cycling with the aim of being selected for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Having never raced on a road bike or ridden on a velodrome this was an ambitious goal but within 6 months Steve made selection for British Cycling and Rio. Surpassing all expectations Steve went on to win two gold medals, a bronze and broke a world record.
Aside from Steve's continuing involvement with track racing he has combined his love of cycling and the outdoors to go on ambitious bike packing adventures all over the world. Having already made a month long trip to Patagonia Steve participated in the Rovaniemi 150, a fat bike race that takes place in Finnish Lapland every February. Located inside the Arctic Circle the 90 mile race is a continuous, self-supported event through the Arctic tundra where temperatures can drop below -35°C. One of the biggest challenges Steve faced with his condition is his night vision (or lack of it) and being so far North a large part of the race involved riding in the dark.
This extra element on top of the already punishing nature of the race gave Steve one of his greatest challenges to date.
Watch out for more from Steve and the Alpkiteer team coming soon.