A story of resilience and community

Jun 13, 2024
A story of resilience and community

It’s been a while since our first blog post, certainly much longer than we meant to. Since launching Trailrippers Project CIC we’ve gone into race season and life becomes rather hectic then. Racing is so much fun though, and it give us far more than just the chance to compete against other mountain bikers. That’s what this blog post is about.

We had travelled early to Fort William for the second round of the British Cycling Downhill National Series to get some practice on the track as it’s the longest and one of the most challenging ones in the UK. It’s the only national track which also gets used for World Cups (with a few small changes) and it’s where the World Championships took place last year. In short: a BIG track.

Ruben and Nathan were loving getting up to speed, catching up with local friends and from across the country, having loads of fun on the track. On Tuesday 21st May, Mum was getting on with admin in the van when suddenly a dreaded phone call came in: Ruben had a big crash and needed urgent medical help. The staff at Nevis Range were fantastic and very quick to get to Ruben who had come down on a high-speed section. He was convinced his arm was broken. The crew winched him up into the gondola and brought him down safely to the already waiting ambulance who took him to the Belford hospital in Fort William.

X-rays confirmed that Ruben was correct: his upper arm bone was indeed very broken. A really painful fracture, but fortunately it didn’t need surgery. Once Ruben’s arm was put in a brace, we were discharged from hospital with a supply of painkillers and the advice to attend our local fracture clinic the next week. So many questions arose! It was still several days until the race, Ruben was in severe pain and we had nowhere to stay other than our old van on the campsite. I needn’t have worried: in difficult times like this the incredible strength and kindness of the mountain bike community shines through.

Before we knew it, we were hooked up with beautiful accommodation where Ruben could rest, and several other families rallied around to make sure Nathan could still take part in the race. We had a plan: Mum would take Ruben back on Friday, Nathan would stay in Fort William with one family looking after him during the day and another taking him to their home in the evenings. Nathan of course was under strict orders to ride sensibly all weekend to not get injured as well! In spite of being just 15 years old, Nathan showed incredible maturity and resilience all weekend. He stayed focused on his own process and rode his bike steadily to a 3rd place finish!

This is the result of many years of riding and racing: learning to deal with a multitude of circumstances, deciding when to take risks (and when not…), staying calm when the inevitable crashes happen, and supporting each other when things go wrong. Mountain bike riding and racing can teach so many life skills and the community spirit between riders is amazing.

Ruben won’t be able to ride for a considerable amount of time but the staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital are making sure he will be back strong. We are forever grateful to the NHS and everyone from the MTB community who helped us over the past few weeks!

Nathan, Ruben and Ina