Aaron Wheatland can ride a bike. And he can ride it well.
But unlike many who put pedal to the metal, he’s overcome some serious obstacles to be where he is today.
Wheatland started racing BMX at the age of nine.
“As a young hyperactive thrill seeker, I loved riding my bike,” he said.
“So when I discovered BMX I was instantly hooked.
“It was also a brilliant way for me to burn off some of the endless energy I had as a kid.”
Wheatland raced for 10 years, making life long friends and plenty of memories.
He claimed countless awards, including the South Australian BMX Rider of The Year, and won multiple State championships.
But then it all came crashing down – literally.
Wheatland was involved in a massive accident while representing Australia at the World Championships in 2009.
“I was forced to put BMX on the back burner and focus on my new born son, my health and my work,” he said.
Fast forward a few years later and his health rapidly declined. He was admitted to hospital after losing use of his legs.
“It turned out I had been living with fractured vertebrae and my spine was starting to fuse itself,” he said.
“In 2016 I found out I had a spinal disorder called ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis affecting the spine and large joints.”
Wheatland began rehabilitation and treatment – which he still continues to this day – and after months he was able to ride his bike to school with his son.
“It was a great feeling,” he said of that moment.
Feeling confident within his body, Wheatland sought medial opinion and only a couple of years later he was back on track.
The world was, once again, at Whetland’s feet.
“After four months back racing after a decade, I was convinced to travel to Shepparton to compete where I won the 2019 30-34 Men’s Australian Championship,” he said.
“Meaning I got to represent my club and country once again in Belgium for the 2019 World BMX Championships, making semi finals but unfortunately snapping my chain in the first corner, eventually finishing in the top 16.
“Later that year I won a South Ausralian Master’s State Title and two Victorian Championships and again won the Mildura BMX Club Rider of the year in 2019.”
After a year off in 2020 due to COVID, Wheatland jumped back on the seat and after winning the final at three Victorian rounds and two South Australian rounds, he ranked in the top 10 of the Masters National Cup standings.
“Recently, I travelled to Sydney BMX Club to compete in rounds one and two of the 2021 AusCycling BMX National Cup,” Wheatland said.
“Round one on Saturday I battled my way on a fast, tight and technical track to get second overall in Masters, round two was a lot tougher and after a mechanical issue and a spectacular crash in the final race I came away with sixth overall on Sunday.
“The championship chase continues with round five of the SA state series in Mount Gambier this month and also only a few weeks after the AusCycling National Cup rounds three and four, in Nerang, Queensland.
“Many Mildura riders are hoping to make the trip to both events to keep up their reign for glory among Australia’s best BMX racers.”
Wheatland said BMX has changed his life – and being part of the Mildura BMX Club is the most fun and welcoming group any family or person can experience.
“It’s not about winning but rather getting outside and exercising while having a great time,” Wheatland said.
“It’s a sport the whole family can be involved in, not many sports allow all members of the family to compete together, individually in their age groups/classes.”