Man seeks cycling partner to be his eyes on the road

Diane Crocker
Published on July 24, 2014
Jason Billard is looking for someone to cycle with. The legally blind man has a tandem bicycle, but needs someone to pilot it and be his eyes on the road. — Photo by Diane Crocker/The Western Star

Jason Billard is looking for a cycling partner: someone to be his eyes on the road as he navigates his way around on a tandem bicycle.

Originally from Burgeo and now living in Corner Brook, Billard has been legally blind all his life. He suffers from several eye conditions including nystagmus, corneal opacities and microphthalmia and can just see bits of colour.

Even with his sight issues he developed a love of cycling.

“I’ve been cycling ever since I was a child,” said Billard on Wednesday. “Made my parents hair turn grey prematurely, I guess,” he added with a laugh.

Billard moved to Corner Brook from Toronto about a year and a half ago.

In Toronto he found an outlet for his passion through the Tandem Trailblazers. The cycling club is a registered charity that provides visually impaired people with the opportunity to cycle with volunteers.

Through his involvement Billard was able to get out, get some exercise and socialize.

But since moving to Corner Brook, he hasn’t been able to ride and he misses it.

“Just getting out there and letting the wind blow through your hair,” he said. “Just going somewhere you haven’t been before on a bike.”

Instead of being on the road, his bike sits inside his apartment carefully placed against a wall in the living room.

The fact it’s not used much is obvious from its place behind the TV and an end table.

To get it, the cases of toy cars that he collects have to be moved out of the way.

His wife, Kathleen Cooper, provides a hand to lift it up and out over the TV and then helps Billard manoeuvre it down over the many stairs that lead up to their apartment.

Once outside, Billard stands next to the bike, which glistens in the sun, for a photo.

There’ll be no ride today, but it’s not for want of trying.

Billard has posted notices around town, on social media and through Kijiji trying to find a riding partner, all with no luck.

“Which I’m very surprised about given the level of cycling in this town. There is a big cycling presence here,” he said.

So back up the stairs and back to its place by the wall goes Billard’s bicycle for two.

Anyone interested in helping Billard get back on his bike, can contact him at (709) 660-2280.


The Western Star