Hellesdon biker makes history and tackles personal challenge as he completes lap of difficult course
A disabled Hellesdon biker has made history and faced a 'massive personal challenge' after completing a lap of a testing course.
Former international rider Phil Armes yesterday finished the solo lap of the Isle of Man TT course - often considered the ultimate test for motorcyclists - becoming the first ever paraplegic to do so.
The 57-year-old broke his back in a racing accident 21 years ago, but has been determined to once again take on the track.
But since he returned to a motorbike in 2013, mechanical problems, technical issues and even the weather have stood in his way.
Last night, the father-of-three said he was 'very emotional', but delighted to have finally achieved the goal.
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'To say it is rewarding is probably an understatement,' he said. 'But it was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done on a motorbike and also the most rewarding. It is a massive achievement.'
Mr Armes, who previously completed seven TT races on the Isle of Man, said that during the lap on his adapted bike, his focus was simply on crossing the finishing line.
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He said: 'I was thinking 'just get to the finish'. It was difficult because I was enjoying the ride but you just have to concentrate. The punishment can be far greater than the crime, so you have to concentrate on what you are doing.'
It was on August 18, 1995, that Mr Armes - who has ridden in Formula 1 world championships - was left paralysed in a crash at the Ulster Grand Prix in 1995.
But earlier this month, he returned to Northern Ireland to complete a full lap of the circuit, again becoming the first paraplegic in history to do so.
It comes as little surprise that Mr Armes' story has been a source of inspiration for people living with disabilities.
'The main motivation behind this all was for me to get back on a bike,' he said. 'But along the way I have discovered that a lot of people with various disabilities have taken something positive away from it. It's something I am proud of.'
Mr Armes, who presents on Mustard TV, said there are no more big challenges in the pipeline, but that he would 'never say never'.
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