Neil Fachie is hoping to hit the heights twice in 2021 as he aims for Paralympic gold and a trek to Everest base camp.
Alongside pilot Matt Rotherham Fachie is determined to regain the One-Kilometre Tandem Time Trial crown at the rearranged Paralympic Games in Tokyo in August and September.
But that’s not the only big target on the horizon for the 36-year-old in the new year, as he and wife Lora are set to trek to the base camp of Mount Everest – which is more than 5000 metres above sea level – in November.
Fachie said: “After Tokyo Lora and I have decided we’re going to go on a trek with a company to Everest base camp, which is going to be a treat for us and to do something we’ve always wanted to do.
“So post-Paralympics, all being well, that will be my next immediate target.
“We’ve never spoken too much about the travel things we wanted to do. The trek was supposed to happen this year, but like many things it got pushed back.
“They were looking for a team of half visually-impaired and half fully-sighted to do the trek.
“An advert came up that two people had pulled out and Lora saw the advert and told me about it.
“It’s in November and we barely ever get the chance where we could take three weeks off training.
“But we spoke about it and it’s perfect timing too, so we both would love to do it.
“Regardless of the outcome of the games, it will be nice to have that to look forward to and a chance to get away from cycling.
“Last time after (the 2016 Paralympics in) Rio we had our wedding, so we like to have something big afterwards.”
Fachie hopes he is making the trek having won his second Paralympic gold medal, following success in London in 2012.
The Aberdonian, who has retinitis pigmentosa, added: “It would be a nice way to celebrate by having won another gold medal.
“But either way it will be good – as a nice distraction if things don’t go well – or as something to keep to you grounded if you’ve done well, but are then trying to slog your way up a tough climb.”
Golden desire after Rio disappointment
Fachie won gold in the One-Kilometre Tandem Time Trial at London 2012, but was unable to retain the title, taking only silver in Rio four years later.
That result in Brazil has been the driving force behind Fachie’s bid for glory in Tokyo.
Although he has come to terms with not winning in Rio, the motivation to win in Japan is just as strong.
He said: “It’s something I did think about during the summer – if Tokyo didn’t happen, would I be satisfied having not had the chance to win that title back?
“There’s an element of me would be, because I’ve forgiven myself for not winning that title.
“But at the same time this is a chance to win back that title and I’ll be going all guns blazing for it.
“I don’t feel like it’s the be all and end all, but it is a very big motivator for me and I’m going to give it my all.
“I still consider it my title, so it would be nice to get it back. On the days when you maybe don’t fancy it in training so much that’s the thing that motivates me and reminds me why I’m pushing myself so hard.
“If I don’t win it, I’m not sure how I would feel – I would imagine I wouldn’t be happy – I never usually am if I don’t win.”
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Fachie hasn’t raced in a formal competition since winning his 14th World Championship gold medal in Milton, Canada last February.
The calendar for 2021 and qualification process for the Paralympics remains up in the air.
The British Championships scheduled for January will not go ahead as normal, while there is doubt surrounding March’s World Championships, which are supposed to be held in Brazil.
In recent months, Fachie and his British team-mates have been competing in in-house races at the Manchester Velodrome.
These in-house events could yet decide who qualifies for Tokyo and, for Fachie, the pressure is on every day to prove himself.
He said: “We capture so much data, so every training session does matter because all the times are automatically recorded.
“All the staff are very aware of what everyone is doing and where we are. You have that element of pressure because you always want to be a little bit ahead.
“The other tricky thing with the in-house races is that it doesn’t quite carry the same deal of pressure as being at a World Championships.
“So it’s a bit harder to get motivated to be at your absolute best, but with qualification on the line that will be enough to get us ready to compete.
“I think we’re in good place, but things can change very quickly in sport and it’s entirely possible that our team-mates start going quicker than us.
“Then there’s a big question mark and one bike doesn’t get to go, so you could be done before you know it.
“There’s pressure, but it’s much the same as every other years in many ways trying to be the number one bike and get selected for different championships. I’m used to it, it’s nothing new.”