Bravo to amputee for cycle marathon

Damian MacDonald and LimbPower Chairman Kiera Roche The pictures were taken by Colin Davies.
Damian MacDonald and LimbPower Chairman Kiera Roche The pictures were taken by Colin Davies.

A BROADBRIDGE Heath below-knee amputee, who conquered Mount Kilimanjaro last year, has added to his list of achievements by completing a 200 mile cycle challenge.

Damian MacDonald, 42, took on the London to Paris two wheeled ride to raise money for disabled charities.

Having lost his leg as the result of a road traffic incident in the 80s, it took Damian more than 20 years to discover there is a ‘life after limb loss’. The charity LimbPower helped his adapt and live with his injury.

Training for the cycle challenge started almost as soon as Damian returned from Kilimanjaro last October.

He said: “With help and advice from the staff at Horsham cycle shop, Freeborn, I selected a bike suitable for the task, joined a local club, Horsham Cycling, and started putting in the mileage.”

Damian considered himself fairly fit having trained extensively for the climb, but cycling proved to be very different to trekking.

To fully prepare he took part in a number of long distance cycling events including the tough 66 mile Isle of Wight Randonee, and the even tougher 70 miles Merlin Ride through the Black Mountains of Carmarthen, Wales.

The group of ten disabled and ten able-bodied riders set out from London on Friday September 30 at 7am, with the aim to cover 73 miles to catch the 7.30pm ferry to Calais.

There were many challenges over the three-day journey, with Damian saying that ‘the group bonded well’, with the stronger able-bodied riders lending a helping hand to some of their ‘not-so-strong amputee companions’ on the longer hill climbs.

On the final day the group had to get up early to ensure they covered the 70 miles to Paris.

Damian said: “Arrival in Paris coincided with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp Racecourse, so traffic was particularly difficult to negotiate.”

However, each member of the group made it to the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and was greeted with Champagne and applause from passers-by. Damian said he felt ‘elated’.

The money raised will be shared between three limb loss charities: LimbPower, Limbless Association and Douglas Bader Foundation. All three are involved in supporting the rehabilitation of, and campaigning for the rights of the limbless community.

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