I started cycling at the age of 13, when my best friend at the time, a gentlemen called Duncan Sutcliff in his infinite wisdom felt that cycling would be a very good way to strengthen our legs for our favoured sport of skiing. 

By the time I’d turned 14 both Duncan and I, had joined our local cycling club called Todmorden CC or, Todmorden Cycling Club.

Later that year I got my first taste of competitive cycling when I rode my first ever 10-mile time trial on somewhere known as the Clitheroe bye-pass.

I rocked up on the start-line in my new yellow and white club jersey, riding my purple road bike not knowing what to expect.

I took a 10 second countdown and I was off like a bat out of hell.

What I had gleamed from speaking to different people was, you rode for as fast as you could against the clock for 10 miles.

A time of 27:04 I recorded or, 27 minutes and 4 seconds, I was elated because I was the second fastest club rider to a seasoned time trialist called Steven Blammire.     

It turned to be the start of something that had the potential to be very special because, what happened next I didn’t expect.

I first of all became a top juvenile cyclist riding for Somerset Road Club before making the British National Squad in my late teens…

So here I am a disabled brain injury survivor, the easiest thing in the world would have been to sit back and accept that this is me, a disabled has been.

Instead I’ve been fortunate enough to have recovered to the point where I’ve been able to return to what I do best, cycling.

For me personally representing your country as a super fit able bodied athlete, kind of pales into insignificance compared to my continued achievements now.

Most recent of those being cycling the NC500 in the Scottish Highlands, Scottish Highlands is an understatement,  I’ve never been anywhere that’s so desolate and, my god the hills.

Then there was the accommodation which, led a lot to be desired….

Apart from our first night stay where we had the luxury of Premier Inn for a one night stay in Inverness, the rest of our accommodation was what’s known as Airbnb’s.

My god, the word primitive doesn’t really do it justice, I’m sure that they don’t understand the meaning of disabled access.

One place we stayed was literally in the middle nowhere and, it consisted of three static caravans in what can only be described as being a junk yard, we had the middle of the three caravan’s.

Luckily the other two were unoccupied otherwise we’d of had nowhere to park it was that primitive.

The only consolation was, the view was tremendous with panoramic views to the rear of the caravan, overlooking a beautiful lake.      

This transpired to be one of the better places because, once inside the caravan at least it was flat.

The others were too rough to mention, other than one was like staying at an American motel where the shower was directly above the toilette, another the toilet and the shower was a cubical not much wider than my shoulders with a strep to negotiate.

Anyway I’m guessing that you get the picture, they were horrific.

Not to be deterred by this because, at the end of the day the accommodation is not the reason why we spent 10 hours traveling to get there in the first place, it was to achieve cycling the NC500.

I hadn’t really considered what the Highlands actually meant, WOW the hills are relentless…

I’m renowned for saying the words (what goes up must come down) however, in the Scottish Highlands what goes up continues to go up, followed by what seemed like a relatively short downhill section before it went up again.

For me the highlight of the trip wasn’t achieving what turned out to be 506 miles, it was seeing a Golden Eagle soaring above us, my god it was huge and, very beautiful.

I’ve seen them in captivity before but, theirs nothing quite like seeing them in their natural habitat.  

The scenery in the Scottish Highlands is quite simply breath-taking, the views are really spectacular, you could never get hung up on the monotony of just viewing tarmac roads all day because, there is so much to see in your surroundings.

Interestingly I’m the only one out of the three of us, myself, Ian & Rhys who actually cycled the entire distance.

On one particular day I was left cycling, whilst my two comrades followed behind in the van, pulling alongside occasionally to give me words of encouragement on the climbs, then beeping the horn if there was a car behind wanting to get past.      

If anybody questions how well I did on this particular challenge you’ve only got to look at the facts: –

  • I was the only person out of the three of us who successfully cycled all 506 miles;
  • I got stronger and stronger as we got further into the ride, in fact there was days when neither Ian or Rhys could keep up;
  • A father and daughter who we met on-route, they both said that I was one hell of a pace setter;

I could continue listing my accomplishments on this trip but, that really would be bragging….

I had very mixed feelings as we pulled into the car park at John ‘O’ Groats, the main one was being completely knackered having just cycled all that way over the toughest terrain the I’ve ever seen but, then it was the euphoria of having almost cycled the NC500 which, is the probably the toughest challenge in the whole of Scotland, England and Wales.   

You may ask yourself why I keep putting my poor disabled body through so much abuse, particularly when fatigue appears to dominate my life?

The simple answer to that particular question is, wait for it “because I can”.