Gavin Towers’s website is confusing at first glance. When you land on the homepage, the words disappear behind a heavy blur, only to be revealed by hovering the cursor over them. “The way you’re reading this webpage is how I experience the world around me,” it reads.
Twelve years ago, Towers was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye condition that breaks down the retinas, causing partial sight loss. Now, as his condition worsens, he wants to become the first visually impaired person to cycle around the globe.
And he plans to do it unsupported.
“[My eyes] are getting worse and worse,” the 45-year-old tells Cycling Weekly . “It’s one of the reasons I’ve wanted to do around the world for a lot of years – I’d say at least 20 or more years. And I’m really mindful that it won’t be possible, or it certainly won’t be by myself, if my eyes continue to deteriorate.”
Due to his condition, cycling carries different challenges for Towers than it does for those with full sight. His reduced peripheral vision means he often fails to spot obstacles in the road, potholes are his enemy and riding at night is not an option.
Multi-tasking, too, poses an issue. “If you’re only focusing on, for example, the computers to see where you’re going, and there’s a hedge there, well, you know, you may well end up in the hedge,” he jokes. “I think back to some of the crashes I had when I was an awful lot younger, and […]