Blesma 100 returns to our roads with 150-mile route
Military veterans – some who are severely injured – have taken on a two-day, 150-mile coast-to-coast cycle challenge across the Pennines and Yorkshire Dales to raise funds for Blesma.
Now in its sixth year, the Blesma 100 – a popular cycle ride organised by Blesma Member and ambassador Jonathan Bell – saw 30 riders set off from Morecambe, Lancashire on 12 June with their sights set on Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast. Along the way, the group cycled some 150 miles and climbed more than 7,000 feet in elevation.
“What a fantastic team effort that showed real camaraderie!” said Jonathan, 57, from Weybridge in Surrey.
“Getting up those hills was tough, and the weather was very warm, but everyone helped each other with lots of encouragement and banter. Crucially, we had a very slick support
crew who were on hand to help anyone in trouble and to dish out food and water, as well as motivation when required!
“In the past, more than 100 riders have taken part in the event, but this year we kept the numbers down to 30 to comply with Government guidelines. The majority of the riders were either from my regiment – 1st Battalion The Green Howards – or were friends and family. They remember when I got injured, and several were actually with me, so there’s an incredibly strong bond between us.”
Jonathan was seriously injured along with a number of his colleagues in 1993, when a car crashed into their foot patrol on Salisbury Plain. Jonathan was paralysed from the chest down, suffered serious head injuries and had to have one of his feet amputated. Over the years he, along with a number of other soldiers who were injured in the incident, discovered a love for cycling and he has been raising money and awareness for Blesma through cycle
rides, known as the Blesma 100.
“It was disappointing to have to cancel the ride last year, and there was always the possibility that this year’s event might not go ahead,” said Jonathan. “Nevertheless, we were desperate to get out, take on the challenge and, of course, to see our pals again after such a long time.
“For that reason we all trained hard, and that built a real sense of momentum as we kept an eye on social media to see what our pals were up to on their training rides. With hindsight, there is no doubt that training for the event has offered a positive distraction throughout the last few months of this horrendous pandemic.”