A few weeks ago I was taken by my Dad and accompanied by “Jim”, to Cambridgeshire to collect my handcycle from Draft wheelchairs. The handcycle had been purchased for me by two spinal injury charities, for which I am incredibly grateful and I will use the handcycle obviously to get my fitness levels up, and to build my upper body strength which was what my physiotherapist at Stoke Mandeville had said in her report, but also I will set myself another “challenge” to use the cycle to raise money to “Give Back” to those charities. Ironically, I was approached by one of the representatives of one of the spinal charities after they saw me on a handcycle in the spinal unit, and she told me to apply for the funding. I wasn’t going to at first but after she spoke to me for almost an hour telling me to apply and the reason why, I decided to. There is one thing I make absolutely sure of, and that is that by whatever way possible, be it through fundraising or giving my time to the charities that have helped me, I always make sure I “Give Back” to those chrities. I just feel that by giving back although it will unlikely be the amount they have given to me, they can use whatever I can give to them, they can help someone else.

Anyway, my Wife gave up her Sunday to assist me in getting out on my handcycle for the first time. She loaded my handcycle in to the “Chucklebus”, then the bike that my Daughter would be riding and with all of us in we haeaded to Ilminster. On arrival I was keen to get out and in to my handcycle but….it pissed it down. Now whilst skin is waterproof, when rain drops hit the skin on my legs, or even water from the shower, it is like electric shocks and it hurts, REALLY hurts and so I could not be laying down on my cycle in the rain. We waited for around a half hour having some snacks and a drink and finally blue skies appeared and the rain stopped. The decision was made, my Daughter and I would cycle back to Chard to see what the cycle path was like for the cycle. My Wife assisted me in getting in to the handcycle, it’s easy to “fall” in to it but I can’t lift my legs in to the “styrups” or strap them in and so she did this for me. Then my Daughter and I rode from the bottom of the industrial estate to the top of the recreaction ground on the cycle path which gave me a chance to operate the gears and try them out, then we turned around and headed back down the way we had come and then on to the cycle path. Destination….the four and a half miles back to my bungalow.

My Daughter has a BMX, (she’s not a girly girl!), and so had not used gears before which proved to be a bit of a problem for her as she could not keep up or manage to ride up the big slopes. Having waited for her I asked her about the gears which was when she told me she did not know how to use them, this resulted in a quick course on how they work and suddenly it made her cycle ride much more enjoyable. Where the tree roots have grown in places along the cycle path, it has caused the path to lift which meant that I could feel the bump as the foam `seat` on which I sit dragged the floor. Thankfully it was only a couple of places but the path is so overgrown in places that my arms and sometimes my face were hitting the nettles and thorns which was not so enjoyable. And then there was the problem which I was so hoping to miss but had predicted many months ago. The Horse shit. I appreciate that they have decided that Somerset, particularly between Chard and Ilminster clearly doesn’t have enough green fields for the horse riders to use, and as such have renamed the cycle paths to include the words “Bridal Way” but I believe I am correct when I say that if they are entitled to use it then it is also my right. But I am wondering, when do the horse riders think of others. When do they think that actually, as a sense of common courtesy, they will very quickly jump down from their horse and use something to chuck the shit in to the hedge? Why should I have to ride through the shit that they leave behind and believe me, I have to because they have a real knack of allowing the horse to shit right in the middle. So if any of the horse riders who frequent the path are reading this, how about thinking of others who use the path, eh?

So having reached the bungalow I have made the decision to only use the cycle path from near Donyatt until the council or whoever are responsible for the cycle path clean up the shit and cut it back to a useable state. Getting from the cycle to my chair is not happening at the moment and so I had to get out of the cycle on to the floor and shuffle to the hoist. As it was I needed a bath anyway and so going to the bathroom and using the hoist there was not an issue. I do however have to work on the transferring also my Wife spotted that where I had turned the steering to the left, my right leg had been rubbing on the wheel and as a result I had lost a lot of skin which was bleeding. I of course had not felt it so this would need to be addressed before I rode again. On Monday evening my Brother Darren came round, he had spoken of us going out for a cycle ride and that he would set the cycle to stop my leg rubbing, check and adjust the brakes and would look as we were riding to see if anything else needed adjusting. Draft had done adjustments when I was there to collect it but now I was actually using it on the roads and my body moving whilst I cycle mixed with the brakes bedding in, some adjustments needed to be done. With the adjustments completed, we were off.

I knew where I wanted to go but couldn’t remember 100% which turning to take and as a result we ended up going up some hills, some not particularly nice hills I may add. As it is country lanes that we were using, it became difficult as gravel and dust mounts in the middle of the road which results in my cusion rubbingh on the floor, as it is not wide enough to comfortably be either left or right of the middle, it becomes a pointless ride and so Darren lifted the front of the cycle round, faced me back down the hill and we tried a diffterent route. We did meet some traffic which was not as bad as I thought it would be but I think that having Darren on his mountain bike helped, I think they saw him before me. This route that we had taken also had a steep hill but with a couple of stops I made it, eventually coming out around half way up the road running between Chard and Crewkerne. This hill is also steep. Darren checked it was clear to move to the opposite side of the road and then I simply freewheeled, I must have hit a good speed though as the car that overtook me had clearly changed down and accelerated hard to get past me, also Darren could not keep up. Our ride finished by heading down to the childrens play area which is on the cycle path and then to the bungalow.

I am really looking forward to going back out on it, we couldn’t for the rest of this week but I think that when I get back from  my course, it will definitely be happening.

So I’m going to tell you now of the latest challenge that I will be undertaking with some of my friends, both military and civvi. On Thursday 28th of August when people have finished work, we are going to head up to Fort William in Scotland and early doors on the Friday morning I will attempt to reach the summit of Ben Nevis. From there we will head to the Lake District where I will attempt to reach the top of Scafell Pike. Finally we will head to Wales where we attempt to get the Overlander to the top of Snowdon. I will be putting a donate button on this website and I hope that you will be able to find some spare money to help me raise as much as possible.

Good night all.


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