Petrolheads Dave Burdus and Carl Brunning have made history by becoming the first pair to ride from John O’Groats to Lands End on high-performance…wheelchairs.
The intrepid duo, both paralysed following separate accidents more than 30 years ago, completed the 2,200-mile road trip in 10 days aboard specially adapted wheelchair trikes capable of hitting 125mph.
Bikesure backed the pair’s bid with free motorcycle insurance for the trip, which aimed to raise awareness of the government’s Disability Confident campaign and raise funds for the Percy Hedley Foundation’s Splash Appeal – a £1m appeal for a hydrotherapy pool for disabled children.
On September 1, the pair set off from Newcastle’s Quayside on their Mad Max-style, 1150cc three-wheelers – with BMW R1150R front ends and modified rears – to prove that anything able-bodied motorcyclists could do, so could they.
The John O’Groats to Lands End section itself took six days, starting on September 4, calling in at Inverness, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Hull and London along the way before arriving at Land’s End on September 9 to a glorious Cornish sunset.
And during the epic journey, Dave and Carl found time to stop off at Number 10 Downing Street to meet with Minister of State for Disabled People Mark Harper.
“We were able to give Mark an update on our journey,” said Dave, “and use his status at the famous Downing Street to raise the profile of the disability confident campaign.”
Mr Harper said: “They are sending a very positive message to employers that they should give disabled people an opportunity to go and work in their businesses. I think they are a very good example of people who, when they put their minds to it, there is nothing they cannot do.”
“The Downing Street stop off certainly grabbed attention,” said Carl, “which allows us to push out our message to employers that disabled people are skilled and motivated, and with the right equipment and support are equally dependable and capable as non-disabled employees.”
Dave added: “Our disability confident road trip is a perfect example of disabled people’s potential. And our planning, determination and staying power is readily transferable to the workplace.”
The two adventurers struck up a friendship when they were left paralysed through spinal injuries and found themselves in neighbouring beds in Hexham Spinal Injuries Unit in 1983.
Carl, 50, fell 150ft when mountaineering with two friends in the Lake District and Dave, 53, had a motorcycle crash at Spennymoor.
Carl said: “When we talked about doing it in hospital it was just a pipe dream – but now our plans have come to fruition.”
The trikes have built-in electric tail ramps and locking mechanisms for securely fastening the wheelchairs in place, while the gear change is made by pressing a button with the thumb on the left hand.
“The trikes are a bit Batmen meets Judge Dredd,” said David. “When we approach, all heads turn. People are totally impressed and most don’t suspect that we are driving from wheelchairs until we drop out of the back or drive past. You can see it really challenges pre-conceptions of disability. All the questions are about the trikes and none about our impairment or wheelchairs, which is very refreshing.”
Carl added: “At the end of the day people are recognising what we are doing isn’t superhuman, it’s just everyday normal! We are just two guys doing what we love – riding motorbikes!”
Bikesure can provide competitive insurance for all sorts of motorcycle and trike, whether standard or adapted for disabled riders.