A Skye man will be among a team of injured servicemen taking part in an infamous mountain bike race.
45 year old Simon Culshaw, from Portree, will be heading to France to take part in the Mountain of Hell race.
Mr Culshaw served in the Kings Own Scottish Borders infantry regiment for 4.5 years. He was discharged in 1994 after suffering from anxiety and later moved to Portree after suffering a stroke.
Mr Culshaw took up mountain biking last year while on an Outdoor Adventure course. He said: “I had a lot to learn but I really enjoy it. It’s fun with an element of danger – like being a kid again and trying something new for the first time.
“I decided to compete in the Mountain of Hell as I am trying to sort out my life. I have been on a bit of a train crash journey – including alcohol and substance abuse - and then, one day, I decided I didn’t want to die. I realised the path I wanted to take but had no idea how to do it.
“Since then, I have been trying to turn my life around by doing as many courses as I can, including an Outdoor Adventure course at Broadford College followed by an HNC in Outdoor Activity Leadership at Fort William UHI, and training with Adventure Quest UK for my mountain leader qualification. Adventure Quest are funded by Help for Heroes and put me in touch with the charity, and it went from there.”
Simon will arrive in Les Deux Alpes with the rest of the team on Thursday 28 June. The qualifier on Saturday June 30 will determine the start line up for the final which begins at 9am the next day.
Simon has borrowed a bike from Help for Heroes to compete but plans to acquire one so that he can continue mountain biking after the event. “I love all outdoor activities. They get me out of the house and take me to another world, leaving my worries behind. Physical exercise and the outdoors are the best medicine. The training sessions have really helped me by gaining knowledge, acquiring new skills and growing in confidence as a result. I have gone over the handlebars a few times but just get back on – it’s great fun! I just hope I finish the race in one piece!”