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Moore overcoming obstacles in pursuit of Paralympic dreams

Stan Moore has been riding a bike for as long as he can remember going all the way back to his first few years of elementary school.

For the better part of the last two decades, though, riding a bike has been a different kind of task.

Moore, a 67-year-old Medford native, is legally blind. It’s been that way since 2005. His vision is extremely limited on the very best days. Yet the inability to see so many of the sights he used to enjoy is not slowing him down when it comes to what he does on a bike. Moore has spent plenty of time on his bike the last decade, whether it’s the stationary version or competing in para-cycling events across the West Coast and the rest of the country. And soon, across the Atlantic in Belgium.

On top of all that, Moore has his aspirations of competing on the biggest stage of them all: with Team USA at the Paralympics in Tokyo this summer.

“I’ve never been so close,” said Moore, who was first diagnosed with loss of sight in 1985. “I feel like I’m 30 or 40 years old. I’m in the best shape of my life.”

These next few months will be quite busy for Moore — who has been doing competitive racing in one shape or form for the better part of the last four decades — as he prepares for the Paralympic team trials in June.

It’s on a tandem bike where Moore’s hopes and aspirations currently sit.

Moore and his riding partner Mark-Anthony Sanchez first teamed up in 2019 after another visually impaired rider, Wendy Werthaiser of Ashland, connected the two after hearing that Moore wanted to get back into competitive racing following a stint in rowing.

On their tandem bike, Moore is the stoker, the muscle man on the back seat. Sanchez, a Navy veteran who lives in Beaverton and is studying to get a PhD in exercise science at Concordia University, is the pilot, steering the bike and calling out directions for his visually impaired teammate behind him.

“Initially, I was a little hesitant, and that was probably a little bit of age bias,” Sanchez recalled. “I’m a scientist myself, a PhD student in exercise science, so I am studying more and more about chronological age and biological age. His biological age is not 67. The first time I rode with him, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a motor back there,’ Out the window went all of my thoughts about him being old.”

While sometimes a challenge — on top of being legally blind Moore is also dealing with progressive hearing loss and has to wear hearing aids because of it — they’ve become quite the strong team.

Moore and Sanchez captured a pair of bronze medals in a division for the blind and vision impaired at the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville, Alabama, earlier this month. It was the first race in over a year the sport has conducted due to the pandemic, as well as one of the final tuneups before the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials this summer.

“It was really encouraging at the end knowing where we finished because those were the other top U.S. guys,” Moore said. “We went as hard as we could for the entire race.”

“He had enough vision to where he could see a light out of one section of his eye, so he could see brightness. But when we got done with that race, he said he couldn’t see anything, it was black,” Sanchez said of Moore. “And that struck me and hit me pretty hard. I don’t know how I would handle that. That was the first race where he said, ‘I couldn’t see anything.’”

Moore and Sanchez will return to competitive racing this coming weekend, May 6-9, in a UCI Para-cycling World Cup race in Ostend, Belgium — which will also serve as a Paralympic qualification event.

Neither Moore nor Sanchez will hide their desire to make the United States’ Paralympic team that heads to Tokyo this summer. They know they’re working with a small window of time.

“The World Cup in Belgium is a big, big, big one,” Sanchez said. “Belgium is where we cut our teeth with the international crowd and the road races because that’s where we’ll run into the Europeans who do this full-time and are paid by their federal governments to do this full-time. Belgium is a huge one, a huge couple of races, and it will get us the points and we’ll see from there.”

Getting to this point has been far from routine for Moore.

Moore, who also repairs bikes in his spare time and still owns a bike shop despite his 2005 diagnosis, is limited in training because of his vision.

While Sanchez can go out on rides around Beaverton, Moore’s training is essentially limited to his stationary bike. He says he tries to visualize where he used to ride around the Rogue Valley or courses that he’s been on in years prior while he monitors his heart rate and the amount of power he generates during each stationary bike session.

“It’s usually between 200 and 250 miles a week,” Moore said when asked about a typical workload. “I do my own thing here and I try to visualize some of the rides that I used to go out on around here.”

Despite the restrictions when it comes to training, Moore doesn’t let it impact what kind of shape that he’s in.

“I feel great. I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” Moore said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Added Sanchez: “At the last race in Huntsville, Alabama, some of the other tandem crews were very interested (in Moore), and one of the other pilots was like ‘You are jacked, dude!’ — and he is. I hope when I’m his age I’m still racing at this level because that’s unheard of.”

The two communicate daily no matter if it’s through texting or talking on the phone, with the volume only increasing as each race gets closer and closer.

To help fund their trips to different races, Sanchez has started a GoFundMe page (bit.ly/32W0aiJ).

“It’s all cycling business,” Sanchez said of his daily talks with Moore. “People tend to forget that this is business — we’re in this together and we’re not going out together for some fun riding thing, we’re trying to get to the (Paralympic) Games. We’ve got a job to do and want to do well.”

Both Moore and Sanchez say the biggest thing for them is to continue developing the rapport between the two of them.

And you better believe that Moore isn’t going to slow down with his training, either.

“Mainly more distance and power work for time trials and getting that down more and more,” Moore said in regard to what he wants to achieve between now and the Paralympic Trials. “That’s the big thing. I want to try and get a little stronger with more power and leg speed.”

The stronger Moore feels he can get, the better he thinks the chances will be of making the U.S. team.

Regardless, at 67 he’s chasing something that few his age can say they even have the opportunity to try and accomplish.

“It feels really good, and I know we have an outside chance,” Moore said. “We’re still there, we’re the underdogs, and we’ve got to give it everything we’ve got. I’m pretty excited and I want to make it. I’ve got a good teammate, he’s a good hard worker.”

That teammate, one who is in constant appreciation for what Moore is doing, certainly knows he’s got a good one by his side.

Or, in this case, being the engine at the back of their bike.

“It’s incredible. Somebody who’s as dedicated at his age, he’s lived a long life already,” Sanchez said. “I guess age is just a number. I hate when people say they’re too old for that — I don’t buy that anymore at all. Never sell yourself short, and if you want to try something then go for it.”

Reach Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Medford native Stan Moore, rear, and riding parnter Mark-Anthony Sanchez make their way through the course during a recent race. The pair are attempting to qualify for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer. (Photo courtesy of Mark-Anthony Sanchez)
Medford native Stan Moore, right, and riding partner Mark-Anthony Sanchez stand on the medal podium after a race in Canada in January 2020. (Photo courtesy of Mark-Anthony Sanchez)