A former world champion cyclist paralysed in a crash at Silverstone has returned to the saddle for a jaw-dropping downhill bike ride.
Martyn Ashton, 40, was left paralysed from the waist down after an accident when performing a trials display at Silverstone in 2013.
He was told he would never walk again, let alone ride his beloved bicycle.
But now, two years on, the courageous cyclist has overcome incredible odds to become the first person with such injuries to ride a two-wheel mountain bike.
He went on a ride through Snowdonia with fellow trials riders Danny MacAskill, Chris Akrigg and Blake Samson.
Using a Mojo Nicolai Geometron, which is a near-standard mountain bike with the major modification of having a sit ski chair adapted to fit where the bike’s saddle usually lives, Martyn set off with his mates on the groundbreaking bike ride.
For a short time Martyn could forget he was paralysed as he cycled down the track at high speed, negotiating sharp bends and even pulling off the odd trick.
Extreme cyclist Martyn, who hails from South Wales, yesterday described the downhill ride as the “best time he’s ever had on a bike”.
He said: “Of course I have questioned if I’ll walk again and I don’t know if I will or not.
“But with riding a mountain bike, for whatever reason, it was always ‘how are we going to do it’. Never riding a bike again? Well, that never came up.
“I’ve been riding bikes for so long that I think it defines my life. Riding is such a natural thing to me - it’s who I am. I’m not willing to let go of it despite the situation.
“All of us who ride bikes - whatever level it is - has the same feeling when they start riding: the exhilaration of riding. The freedom. For some of us that sticks and never goes away. And for me, it’s like that.
“Being able to mountain bike again feels like I’ve got something back that a higher power took away. I feel like I’ve cheated the game and that feels triumphant.
“As soon as they’ve pushed me off at the top of the summit, I was no longer the guy in a wheelchair.
“We were four mountain bikers riding together and we were having so much fun. I was having the best time I’ve ever had on a bike. Genuinely.”
A short film on Martyn’s heroics by Robin Kitchin and the Global Mountain Bike Network was released yesterday.