Light Dragoon veteran from Dereham among first disabled team to complete world’s longest downhill cycle race
- Credit: supplied
A former Light Dragoon from Dereham has made it into the history books as being part of the first disabled team to complete the longest downhill cycle race in the world.
Simon Taylor hit speeds of 60km/h, crossed a 2km frozen glacier and twisted through 20km of mountainside forest with tortuous climbs to complete the Alpe d'Huez Megavalanche as part of a Help for Heroes-supported group of wounded, injured and sick veterans and serving personnel.
Mr Taylor suffered devastating injuries in 2009 while on routine patrol in Afghanistan serving as a sergeant with the regiment.
His vehicle hit an improvised explosive device and h suffered a multitude of broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, spinal fractures and a shattered ankle.
As a result of the injuries, in 2011, his right leg was amputated below the knee.
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Psychologically he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from feelings of guilt for his comrade who died in the incident.
Mr Taylor's first encounter with cycling post-injury was in 2012, shortly before being medically discharged from the Army.
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'On my first time out on it, I went further in a 15 minute ride than I'd been in the last two years,' he said. 'I became addicted. It's my way of helping with the psychological side of things, getting out and about in nature. It gives me the space to get my head together.
'People perceive the sport as off-limits for people with a disability but it's just about having the right skills and confidence to do it.'
He now works for the Jon Egging Trust as a liaison officer for their Blue Skies youth engagement programme.
The trust was set up in memory of Red Arrows pilot Jon Egging who tragically lost his life whilst completing a display at the Bournemouth Air Festival in 2011. The charity realises his dream of helping young people overcome adversity, identify their strengths and work towards their ambitions.
Mr Taylor also leads their Inspirational Outreach programme in Norfolk, and has already inspired 1300 young people through talks, assemblies, lessons and visits.
Ellie Orton, interim CEO of the Jon Egging Trust, said: 'Si's achievements and determination to overcome adversity by completing this amazing challenge with his team is an inspiration to all of us.'
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