A former champion amateur biker who suffered crippling injuries in a crash is aiming for success again – this time on three and four wheels.
Bret Crossley, from Rothwell, Leeds, endured the “nightmare” of a major spinal cord injury in a race in 2006 that left him wheelchair-bound.
The 41-year-old admits it took years for him to come to terms with the incident. But he is now back on the road and has his eyes on para-triathlon success as a wheelchair racer, hand-cyclist and swimmer.
He said: “It’s never going to replicate the adrenalin of bike racing, but it’s a different kind of challenge and it’s still really exhilarating.
“I’d really like to get into the GB squad and get to the Paralympics.”
Mr Crossley, a former clerical worker at St James’s Hospital, won more then 130 races and claimed six club championships before his accident at a race at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough in September 2006.
He spent more than a year in hospital recovering from multiple injuries.
“It was my worst nightmare,” he said. “I remember saying to my dad I would rather be killed in a crash than end up in a wheelchair.
“By the time I realised I was going to be spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair I took it very badly.”
But after sampling wheelchair sport at an activity centre in Keswick in 2009, Mr Crossley started taking part in wheelchair races and has gone on to finish several marathons, raising money for the Back UP charity on several occasions.
A fundraiser is now due to take place at the Hare and Hounds pub in Rothwell, organised by landlord Mark Collin, as Mr Crossley tries to raise £5,000 for a three-wheeled hand cycle.
There will be an auction of bike memorabilia signed by the likes of legends Carl Fogarty and James Whitham as well as raffles and a talk by Mr Crossley.
He said: “I’m so grateful – the lengths they are going to for me are absolutely amazing.”
Mr Collin said: “I have lived in Rothwell all my life and I want to create a good sense of community and I’ve done my best to help a lot of groups and people.
I got introduced to Bret one evening and heard his story and it really hit home – I got totally drawn in by it. I wanted to do something to help and I spoke to a few of my friends who are into bikes and they managed to get hold of some brilliant stuff.”
He thanked Graham Ward for obtaining signed shirts for the auction.
The event is on Monday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5.