by Jonathan Davies
A few years ago, Martyn Ashton riding a bike would've been no big deal. But now, it produces an incredible, heart-warming story of determination and dedication.
Two years ago, the British and world mountain bike champion was paralysed from the waist down after an accident during a trials performance at Silverstone.
The now 40-year old was told he would never walk again, let alone return to the saddle. But the courageous cyclist has exhibited all of the strength and determination associated with elite sport by becoming the first person to ride a two-wheel bike with such injuries.
Along with fellow mountain bikers Danny MacAskill, Chris Akrigg and Blake Samson, Ashton rode through the Snowdonia mountains in North Wales, using a modified sit-ski chair in place of the saddle.
The rider, from South Wales, described it as “best time he’s ever had on a bike” as he cycled down the track at speed, negotiating tough bends and even performing the odd trick.
He said: “Of course I have questioned if I’ll walk again and I don’t know if I will or not.
“But with riding a mountain bike, for whatever reason, it was always ‘how are we going to do it’. Never riding a bike again? Well, that never came up.
“I’ve been riding bikes for so long that I think it defines my life. Riding is such a natural thing to me - it’s who I am. I’m not willing to let go of it despite the situation.
“All of us who ride bikes - whatever level it is - has the same feeling when they start riding: the exhilaration of riding. The freedom. For some of us that sticks and never goes away. And for me, it’s like that.
“Being able to mountain bike again feels like I’ve got something back that a higher power took away. I feel like I’ve cheated the game and that feels triumphant.
“As soon as they’ve pushed me off at the top of the summit, I was no longer the guy in a wheelchair.
“We were four mountain bikers riding together and we were having so much fun. I was having the best time I’ve ever had on a bike. Genuinely.”
You can watch the inspirational ride here: