ON the track at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome rising cycling star Fraser Kane is doing laps.

Sitting in front of him on the tandem is Gordon Watson, a pilot – and the eyes – for Fraser, 18, who is visually impaired.

Together they soar round the banking with their legs moving powerfully like well-oiled pistons.

But their impressive turn in the velodrome is all too short-lived.

Fraser's usual tandem pilot Andrew Louis, 33, is at his day job as a firefighter meaning that the Largs Academy pupil must spend much of the training session pedalling by himself on a stationary bike.

The teenager, a former swimmer who switched to cycling 18 months ago after sustaining a double shoulder injury, is aiming to compete at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Fraser has lent his support to a new initiative by Glasgow Life with support from Scottish Cycling which aims to recruit sighted tandem pilots at both elite and recreational level.

Members of the public are being invited to sign-up for a six-week training programme co-ordinated by Gordon, a cycle technician and coach with Glasgow Life.

The goal is to build a pool of riders to act as pilots for visually impaired cyclists.

"As long as you can turn a pedal for five or 10 minutes that is a decent starting point," says Gordon, who was Fraser's pilot when he first took up the sport.

"At present, we have five or six pilots who regularly come along to sessions. Ideally we would be looking to build that to between 10 and 30.

"There is a number of visually impaired riders who would like to ride the track but can't currently due to a lack of pilots."

A new weekly Wednesday afternoon para-cycling session was added to the velodrome timetable in April, joining the existing fortnightly Thursday evening slot.

Fraser hopped on a tandem only months after watching Neil Fachie and Craig MacLean win double gold for Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014.

Last autumn, he won a place on Scottish Cycling's performance development programme.

He hopes that more people will follow suit and give para-cycling a go.

"The success of Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games inspired me," he says.

"I didn't know much about tandem cycling before then. It made me want to give it a try.

"I started going to drop-in sessions at the velodrome and quickly caught the bug for cycling."

Fraser was 10 when he was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition called Stargardt's Macular Dystrophy.

"It happened quite suddenly over a lunchtime at primary school," he says. "That was when I had the first big drop in my sight.

"At the time it was quite comical and I thought: 'Oh, I'll probably need to get glasses'.

"But it turned out to be a bit more sinister than that.

"I have no central vision. I have some peripheral vision but with lots of blind spots.

"It means I can't see detail, only rough shapes and objects."

Yet, there is no doubting his fierce sporting ambition.

After a para-swimming career that saw Fraser compete internationally and claim a clutch of Scottish and British records, he is determined to further that success in the cycling arena.

"My pilot Andy and I have built a great relationship on the tandem, but unfortunately he can't always be at every training session due to work commitments," he says.

"It would be fantastic to get more people trained as pilots and I'd encourage them to get involved.

"There have been occasions when I've had to share the tandem with other riders which means I'm only getting half a session or hardly any time on the track at all."

It is a sentiment echoed by Dave Daniell, a two-time world junior track champion and Commonwealth silver medallist, who now works as Scottish Cycling's sprint and para coach.

"Fraser and Andy are on the performance development programme and we are looking to fast-track them to a level where they will be good enough to go to Gold Coast 2018," he says.

"Alongside that we will be working closely with Glasgow Life.

"The aim is to get more people involved at grassroots and then hopefully over time be able to bring more para-athletes into the sport at performance level."

Most people, he says, will be surprised at how quickly they progress on the velodrome.

"Jumping on a tandem for the first time can be a daunting prospect, but the six-week programme being run by Glasgow Life will give people confidence to ride on the track and build-up to racing.

"The goal is to have a pool of tandem pilots who can work with visually-impaired riders at both a recreational and performance level.

"We're keen to spread the word because track cycling is exciting, fun and a very social sport."

Glasgow-based Morven Brown, 26, a regional development officer for Scottish Cycling, is among the first recruits to sign up for the programme.

"Riding a tandem is a bit different to being on a solo bike – at first it's like driving a lorry compared to a Mini – but once you get the feel, it's fantastic," she says.

"I enjoy the social aspect because you're talking with the other rider all the time.

"Nothing beats the thrill of cycling fast around a velodrome – I would recommend it to anyone."

For more information, email gordon.watson@glasgowlife.org.uk