Fellow racers show support for Utah teen with eye condition

Oct 21, 2022, 10:40 PM | Updated: 10:44 pm

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Even though Preston Page has competed in several mountain bike races this year, Friday night felt different.

It was the Utah High School Cycling League State Championships in St. George, and he admitted he felt a little nervous and wanted to do well, not only for himself, but for the Viewmont High School Mountain Bike Team.

“I hope I can do my best here and enjoy the time I have,” Page said before the race.

Time is what’s really on his mind, not so much how long it takes for him to complete this course, but the time he has left to be able to see any course.

“With my eyes, I can barely see two or three feet in front of me,” he said. “It’s degenerative, so it gets worse as I get older.”

(Utah High School Cycling League)

Page has a condition called Cone-rod dystrophy. There is no cure, and his case is pretty bad now.

“I can’t see any shapes past about 10 or 15 feet,” he said. “Everything is really blurry.”

That’s where Jeff Hirschi comes in. He is Page’s guide-rider. Using a 2-way radio, Hirschi talks to Page during competitions, riding in front, letting him know where to go.

“I’m kind of his eyes and ears out there. Making sure he knows what’s coming before he gets there,” Hirschi said.

Mountain bike courses are rough and full of rocks and ruts.

Page has crashed enough times that his parents don’t even worry about him anymore.

“He enjoys this sport a lot,” said Ronald Page, who is Preston’s father. “Even though he has crashed probably 75 times in his races, he just gets up and goes.”

Page knows because this is the last race of the reason, there is a decent chance it could also be his last race. Time is undefeated. There is no telling how much of it his eyes are going to give him.

“Just to go across the finish line is so amazing, and we cheer for him, and we cry for him and everything,” Page’s father said.

His fellow racers wanted to make sure there was still time for Preston to see Christmas lights. So, during the nighttime party after the race, other teams put up some Christmas lights to let Page know, even if they can’t give him the gift of sight, they can let him know, in all that darkness, he’s not alone.

“That’s really cool, yeah,” Page said. “Glad everyone is down here supporting me.”

(Utah High School Cycling League) (Utah High School Cycling League) (Utah High School Cycling League) (Utah High School Cycling League) (Utah High School Cycling League) (Utah High School Cycling League) (Utah High School Cycling League)

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Fellow racers show support for Utah teen with eye condition