Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1986, Gosnells local Deanne Ferris hasn’t let her vision, or lack thereof, slow her down.
With her pilot Jennifer Musgrave, Deanne forms a formidable tandem bike-riding team and last week the pair rode from Bassendean to Bunbury as part of the Life Cycle for Canteen 2022.
Canteen is an advocacy group for young people suffering from Cancer, with Life Cycle being one of their major fundraising initiatives.
While Deanne’s vision has deteriorated since her initial diagnosis – she retains some peripheral vision – this is the third Life Cycle she has participated in.
“I did it the first time five years ago, and now I’ve done it the last two years with Jennifer, she’s nearly always my pilot.
“There’s lot of reasons to take part in the Life Cycle.
“Jennifer found out about it and between us, we know young people who have been touched by cancer in various ways, we already love riding and we thought this was a great way to raise money for Canteen.”
Their latest ride took place over three days and Deanne admits that without training, it could have been a struggle.
“You definitely need to train but I’m amazed at the range of people that do it, there’s one man who is 82 who does the whole thing.
“We all look after each other, I don’t know how some people do it but practice rides are definitely required, you need to eat well and look after yourself as well.”
Jennifer and Deanne have formed a tight bond as Deanne’s vision has deteriorated, but on a tandem bike, there are no issues with sight.
“When I’m out and about on a bike or walking, the little central vision I have tend to glaze over,” she said.
“I can make my way around a campground okay but I can’t see what’s directly in front of me, I can’t read a menu and if I want to see someone’s facial expression, I need to look away from them and use my peripheral vision.
“I don’t have to worry about that on the tandem bike though, I just keep pedalling while Jennifer steers.
“They say all the power comes from the back, I’m quite happy with that.”