Joe's Coast to Coast
I am riding through the deep valley of Wasdale, the lofty, distinct and huge forms of Great Gable and Scafell Pike towering ahead. This is the birthplace of British rock-climbing, my homeland and the mountains where strangers fought to save my life.
Two years ago I fell 40 meters when climbing here. I was severely concussed, suffered nerve damage and broke most of the bones on the right side of my body. I owe my life to the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team and crew from RAF Boulmer who rescued me and the staff at West Cumberland General Hospital who continue to help repair my injuries. I wanted to do something out of respect for these people, my friends and family who have supported me through the difficult on-going recovery.
My good friend James 'Yurty' Pierce had had a trike for years – he’d ridden it 4000km around the Baltic already – and he could see that it would be an ideal way to ‘get out there’. I liked it; it was more nourishing for the soul than the gym, I could ride even though I couldn’t walk, and I could go out with my dog Bodhi – just her and I into the woods. A little piece of me came back when I rode.
So, on Saturday 6th October I set off on a 200 mile coast to coast ride to thank my rescuers and raise awareness of their work. Bodhi came too, and my brother John and his dog Jeb. Mum and best friend Mike were the support crew, and along the route I was joined by friends and well-wishers.
Physically this had been the most difficult endurance challenge I had ever undertaken, even before my disabilities. All in all it went exceptionally well but to keep going took a huge amount of positivity and support. The sheer generosity of people we met was humbling. Not just in donations, but also food and accommodation.
Riding into the finish at Wasdale Head with a peloton of riders behind me was overwhelming. I rounded the final corner to see a huge crowd of supporters, TV cameras and reporters. I finally realised the true scale of what I had accomplished.
It feels immensely powerful to have completed this ride. It raised money and awareness but also provided me with a focus, a goal, a reason to keep strong. As a climber I have become trained in overcoming what I thought previously impossible. This journey provided me with that.
In the next few months I am back in hospital to have corrective surgery on my leg, which will see me back in a wheelchair for a short while, and an external fixator fitted for 8 months. I did this challenge now whilst I had the mobility. The next year could be a lot worse.
I feel very proud that, given my circumstance, I am still in a position to be an inspiration to others. I have a strange feeling that this is merely the beginning.
To show your support for the men and women who saved my life, please make a donation by clicking here
Please visit my website for more information about my journey.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank my family and friends for their on-going support, and my sponsors