Paralysed ex-mountain biker takes on epic Snowdon peak challenge
A former mountain biker who was paralysed from the neck down will climb Mount Snowdon using a special off-road chair on June 22.
Student Peter Lloyd, 22, who moved to Edinburgh to study Mechanical Engineering at Heriot-Watt, was finishing the last 100 metres of a ride when he crashed off his bike and broke his neck two years ago.
He will now take on the challenging ascent, known as the Snowdon Push, to raise funds for Back Up, a national charity that supports people affected by spinal cord injury.
Peter’s accident in August 2017 left him paralysed from the neck down and to complete his mega-challenge he will use a chin-controlled power chair to climb to Snowdon’s peak, with the support of friends and family.
They’ll work together to reach the summit of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, which stands at 3,560 feet.
Peter said: “There’s a real appeal for me in doing things that many people don’t think that someone paralysed from the neck down can do.
“Unlike others taking part, I’ll be doing the Push in a powered off-road wheelchair that I control with my chin, so this will be more of a personal challenge – though my team will still be essential for carrying spare batteries, helping me if I get stuck, and making the experience more fun.”
Peter, who lives in Balgreen and plans to stay in Edinburgh indefinitely, hits the trails on Corstorphine Hill, Arthur’s Seat, Braid Hills and in the Borders and has hit a few bumps along the way.
“I don’t see it as training, but fun,” he said. “A replacement for the mountain biking I used to do. I spend lots of time on the hills in and around Edinburgh, as well as Glentress, Innerleithen and other smaller hills in the Tweed Valley. There have been quite a few times when I’ve nearly flipped it other backwards and somebody thankfully saved me in time.
“Actually, the hardest bit is finding fun trails that aren’t too narrow or have narrow gates, etc.”
The former Enduro Racer, a mountain biking race format, is originally from the West Midlands and had his first race in 2011, when he was 14. He won the national race series as a junior and continued to race until the crash which shattered a vertebra and broke his neck.
Peter spent seven weeks in intensive care in Edinburgh before being transferred to a spinal injuries specialist in Glasgow.
Despite the life-changing injury, he refuses to let it stop him pushing himself. “I’m just trying to get on with the rest of my life and have as much fun as I did before,” he said. “I really enjoy challenging myself in the buggy and things like the Snowdon Push are a great thing to aim for. It’s also great to be able to give back to Back Up, which I also do as a wheelchair skills trainer for them. I’m sure this is only the start.”
The charity offers wheelchair skills training, an accredited mentoring service, proactive telephone support, life skills and activity courses, and support returning to work or education.
The Snowdon Push involves teams of between 10 and 16 people aiming to conquer the highest point in England and Wales. One member of each team must be a wheelchair user, which means pushing, pulling, and wheeling together to reach the summit and back down again. Last year, 12 teams took on the challenge and collectively raised almost £70,000 to support Back Up’s vital services.
“When I was still in the spinal unit, Rich from Back Up was always there to give advice and chat about things. The follow-up emails and calls from Rich, as well as chatting in person, showed me that they really do care. I'm also volunteering as a power chair skills trainer for Back Up now,” Peter said.
Back Up is a national charity that inspires people affected by spinal cord injury to get the most out of life. The charity offers wheelchair skills training, an accredited mentoring service, proactive telephone support, life skills and activity courses, and support returning to work or education.
“The Snowdon Push is such a fantastic experience that really brings people together as a team for a good cause. It’s very important for Back Up to have the support of people like Peter,” Alexandra Provan, Back Up’s Event and Challenge Fundraiser, said. “Their support really is helping us reach more people affected by spinal cord injury and we can’t express how thankful we are for their efforts. Together we are changing people’s lives.”