AFTER 15 years off the bike, The Channon's James Middlemiss has just become an Australian champion.
Riding in the C4 category for athletes with a disability, James recently won a gold medal in the 85km road race and a silver medal in the 32km time trial at the Australian championships at Echuca in Victoria.
Middlemiss was born with clubbed feet - his feet point outwards and he has almost no calf muscles.
Following surgery and physiotherapy, Middlemiss is able to walk normally and from the ages of 15-19 he was a keen junior cyclist.
But time pressures of fatherhood put an end to his time on the bike until last year, when at 34 he took up cycling again.
He had started running, but it caused him pain in the ankles. When researching what other sports people with clubbed feet did, Middlemiss realised he was eligible for the Paralympics and decided to get serious about cycling again.
He now rides about 800km a week and with the help of coach and sponsor Garry Creighton, Middlemiss has set his sights on qualifying for the 2016 Brazil Paralympics team.
"It's so great to have Garry here, he has so much knowledge in everything from training routines and nutrition to mechanics," Middlemiss said.
Creighton has been a cycling coach and mentor for most of his life and about two years ago he set up a shop, WhatWatt Bicycles, in the tiny village of Modanville.
Cyclists from across the Northern Rivers now make Modanville a regular stop on their journey, and Creighton said he was happy to do what he could to help Middlemiss realise his goals.