Karen Darke Joins Cadair Idris Handbike Challenge

On 20th April 2013 a small group of disabled riders will attempt to make it up Cadair Idris on specially designed hand-powered mountain bikes. Paralympian Karen Darke will be among them.

Adaptive mountain bikers in action, 166 kb
Adaptive mountain bikers in action
© Challenge Your Boundaries

The aim of the Hand Bikes at Dawn challenge is to boost the profile of adaptive mountain biking in the UK, and to raise funds for a number of associated projects and local charities.

The bikes, which are pedalled by hand rather than foot, have specially low gears which will be essential on the steep and rocky upper slopes of the mountain. During what's expected to be a gruelling 10-hour epic, the riders will be assisted by a volunteer team of MTB experts.

As well as the summit team, a second group of hand cyclists will take part in the 'Sheep-Station Sortie' which goes as far as the half-way point of the mountain. Although by no means an easy ride, this avoids technical terrain and will be accessible to a wider range of riders and equipment.

The money raised will be split between Mawddach Rotary Club (10%), Challenge your Boundaries adaptive MTB project (30%), Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team (30%) and Walking With The Wounded, a project assisting injured service personnel (30%).

Karen Darke, 70 kb
Karen Darke

Local mountain bike guide Chloe Rafferty, who'll be helping out on the day, said:

'I am passionate about raising awareness of the opportunity that adaptive cycling may provide to members of our community, from the elderly to the severely disabled. There are adaptive bike sessions available locally and I hope to be able to organise some taster events should there be enough interest.'

It was recently announced that medal-winning Paralympian Karen Darke will be part of the team.

Karen will take the place of team member Luke Delahunty, who was injured in a skiing accident earlier in the year.

'With so little time left, there was no chance to get a new rider up to speed with operating the bike, or indeed the time to develop personal fitness. The first reserve (me) was starting to get nervous!' said event co-ordinator Graham O'Hanlon.

'Out of the blue, we heard that Karen was interested in taking part. She was fresh from a winter of training in Mallorca, has ridden the same model of bike on numerous occasions, and has a long history of adventures on hand-bikes. There are few people, nationally or internationally, who could have stepped in at this late stage, and we consider ourselves very lucky to have her on-board.'

'There will not be much to see on the day, as riders will be spread out across the mountain, but the same evening, riders and support crew will be gathering at the Cross Foxes at Brithdir, where there will be a great chance to get a closer look at the equipment, and meet some of the people involved' added Graham.

This ambitious event is being organised by Challenge your Boundaries, a community-based partnership providing access to real mountain biking experiences for disabled riders (see them on Facebook here).

To donate go to the Hand Bikes at Dawn JustGiving page.

Cyfrwy arete from the summit of Cadair Idris looking towards Barmouth on a cold and hazy winter's day, 189 kb
Cyfrwy arete from the summit of Cadair Idris looking towards Barmouth on a cold and hazy winter's day
© deejmonkey, Jan 2012

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