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June 11, 2019

Fearns Pastoral Mentor tackles cycle ride across America for charity

A PASTORAL mentor is undertaking a mammoth 2,745 mile bike ride as a thank you to an army charity, 12 years after he was severely wounded.

Martyn Gibbons, from Stacksteads, works at Fearns Community Sports College,but has been allowed special leave to undertake what was the longest off road cycling challenge The Tour Divide.

He flew out on Tuesday and will begin the bike ride on Friday June 14, in Banff, Canada. He hopes to reach the end of the ride - at Antelope Wells, New  Mexico - after 25 days in the saddle. He will be cycling for 16 hours a day.

In 2007, while a serving Sergeant in Afghanistan in Sangrin, shrapnel from an 82mm mortar went through both his legs and he subsequently needed 15 operations, surgeons fused two of his broken bones, he had extensive skin and muscle grafts and had to learn to walk again.

While recuperating, he began cycling as a means of aiding his recovery.

At Christmas his training regime suffered a setback after he sustained a back injury and was unable to cycle for eight weeks.

Martyn, who is married to Kim and has three daughters, said:“I did the Dales Divide at Easter, which is a 375 mile bike ride from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

“That was really useful because it made me realise what kit I needed to take with me and what I didn’t; it was like a test before the real thing.

“You are given a route and have to follow it exactly. If you deviate off it you have to return to where you went wrong and start again or you will have failed. If you break down you can have a lift to a cycle shop,but then must return to the point where you broke down to continue to the end.

“The rules are very strict and you can make no detours as you have a tracker fitted to the bike, you also have no back up.

“The first 10 days are notorious for snow and rain, the weather has been around 4 degrees and there is around 150-250 per cent extra snow pack.

“There is also bear activity and wild dogs. You have a bear spray and I also have music that I can play loudly while I am cycling.”

However, Martyn said he had faced tougher enemies as a soldier. He did admit: “I am worried about how my legs are going to cope and if I am going to have any bone issues.

“I am not looking to break any records, but want to raise money for The Soldiers’ Charity to say thank you for the support they gave me and my family when I was injured and since.

“I wanted to do it because I like doing challenges, but it is the last stupid thing I am allowed to do.”

His JustGiving page is currently nearly £700 and he hopes to raise £3,000 by the end of the ride. To sponsor him visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/martyn-d-gibbons