‘A Bridge Too Far’ - Help For Heroes Bike Ride from Brussels to Arnhem.
London, 19 October 2010: L/Sgt Nathan Cumberland reports: “In October 2009 I fell victim to a Taliban IED/Mine strike which resulted in the loss of both my legs. It soon dawned on me while laying in my hospital bed that these were life changing injuries and during my initial treatment at Selly Oak hospital and subsequent rehabilitation at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre [Headley Court] I was firmly focused and intent on moving on and getting on with my life.
As I have already alluded to, this has been a life changing year for me and my approach has been to set myself a number of goals to measure my progress against. The biggest challenge to date has been, by far, the Help for Heroes ‘A Bridge Too Far’ bike ride from Brussels to Arnhem covering 385 miles. This event took place between 13 – 18 September, less than a year since I had been severely maimed by the IED strike; this has to be testament to the levels of medical support received in Selly Oak Hospital and Headley Court.
Monday 13 September was the start to this epic journey, which saw some 185 cyclists from the Tri Services travel by Euro Star from St Pancras to Brussels. The next day, following breakfast at the British Embassy, we set off on the first leg from Brussels to Leuven. Using the hand bike that the colonel’s fund had purchased for me I covered some 80 miles on that first day. This was a big wake up call for me and in the back of my mind I knew I should have trained a lot more for this.
The second day from Leuven to Antwerp saw me slowly starting to get in a rhythm but my arms were so tired it was a struggle throughout the day. During the 5 day ride we visited various cemeteries and ceremonies along the route and, although the support we received from the public was tremendous, I couldn’t help but long for the last day when we crossed the Arnhem bridge.
This has been one of the hardest things I have done but looking back on it I’m glad I did it, not just for me but for the awareness of the wounded servicemen and women across the country. Trying to adjust to being disabled was initially hard but the Colonel’s Fund has helped me through this process by assisting me with adjustments to my house, purchasing the hand bike for my fitness and providing me with financial advice. This has been hugely advantageous for me in coping with my new life. I hope to compete in another fundraising event next year where I can ‘do my bit’ for the Colonel’s Fund.”