CWMBRAN mountain biker Gareth Bailey and his friends have completed an epic 500-kilometre fundraising ride through Wales, raising more than £11,250 in online donations.
Mr Bailey planned the ride in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance, as a “thank you” for coming to his aid after he broke his neck in a freak accident whilst biking in the Afan Argoed forest, near Neath, last year.
Inspired by the work of air ambulance crews, whom he believes were instrumental in saving his life and in getting him to hospital as soon as possible for treatment, he and a group of friends cycled from north to south Wales, visiting air ambulance bases on the way, before finishing up at Rodney Parade, Newport.
Mr Bailey, 36, from Llantarnam, Cwmbran, over-rotated whilst taking a jump on a course in the forest early last year. He also dislocated a shoulder and collarbone and broke several ribs. He alone has raised more than £2,800 towards the appeal.
He said he has no doubt the air ambulance crew who attended the scene and airlifted him to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, not only saved his life, but played a vital role in ensuring he was not paralysed.
He feared he might never walk again, but though it was seven months before he rode a bike again, he was back on his feet in a month, albeit following a number of operations. These included a bone graft to deal with a ruptured spinal disc that also required a metal cage to be fitted to keep his neck stable.
It was only after his accident that Mr Bailey discovered the Wales Air Ambulance is a charity that relies on raising several millions of pounds a year to keep its three helicopters operational.
“They were there when I needed them,” he said.
The fundraising ride was dubbed the Tour de Wales 2014. You can still donate - see visit justgiving.com/TourdeWales2014