An amputee from North Yorkshire is captaining a team of limbless and paralysed military veterans as they tackle a 3,000 mile road cycling race across America.

William Atkinson-Brown is one of eight members of Team Blesma, a military charity for limbless veterans, which will cycle across 13 states - from San Diego, California, on the west coast to Annapolis, Maryland, on the east.

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The team, comprising six amputees and two paralysed riders, face a total ascent of 17,362 metres along the route, which includes the Rocky and Appalachian mountain ranges.

William, 48, from Richmond, was determined to ride the Race Across America (RAAM), billed as one of the world’s toughest endurance races, after being a support crew member in 2017.

He was later selected for Team Blesma, only for the race to be postponed for two years due to the pandemic.

William, who served with the Scots Guards for almost 25-years, rising to become Training Colour Sergeant, was diagnosed with rare vascular condition Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which led to an above the elbow amputation.

The Northern Echo: William Atkinson-BrowningWilliam Atkinson-Browning

He also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said: “This is a tough race for anyone but, as a team, we want to send out a message that disability is no barrier to taking part in such ultra-distance events.

“We will push ourselves to the limit, both physically and mentally, as we aim to finish in under nine days.

"I also want to show others that riding my bike with one hand proves there is ability through disability.

“I’ve been a keen cyclist since I was a child, and I didn’t want the amputation to put an end to that.

"When I first became involved with RAAM in a support role, I knew instantly it was a challenge I had to accept.

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“I’m grateful for all the messages of support I’ve been receiving from back home and we hope to raise as much money for Blesma as possible.”

The team spent a week in California acclimatising and ensuring that their bikes are correctly set up, before setting off on Saturday (June 18).

William joined Richmondshire-based motor trade consultancy MotorVise Automotive in January as a training advisor and managing director Fraser Brown says he and all the staff are following his progress closely.

He said: “William has a remarkable attitude and is a great example of someone who sees opportunities rather than barriers.”

Anyone wishing to donate can visit William’s Just Giving fundraising page.


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