Sightless biker sets out to top 170mph on daring solo ride
HURTLING along at 170mph on a motorbike is a terrifying prospect for most people.
When you are deliberately intending to hit that speed having already been involved in two serious crashes then it appears foolhardy. When you also happen to be completely blind and disabled, it is nothing short of incredible.
But that’s what Edinburgh biker Stuart Gunn is planning as he launches an ambitious bid to break the solo land speed world record for a blind person.
All he needs is an airfield, four friends to ride beside him, and a fair amount of nerve.
It comes exactly a decade since his life was changed forever by a crash on his bike.
A van in front of him swapped lanes suddenly and he ploughed into the back of it.
“Half of my body went through the sunroof, the other half through the windscreen,” said the 38-year-old.
“Five of the people who came to help that day had to go to hospital to be treated for shock because they thought they’d witnessed a man dying.
“I remember lying there on the road thinking I could either give up there and then, or fight and carry on living.”
Ironically, he had been on his way to hospital for a check on a shoulder injury he had sustained in a previous collision.
Although his blindness and paralysis did not arrive directly after the crash, a series of falls caused by his weak legs sparked a neurological condition which further hit his health.
Years of fits and seizures, along with medication which topped 80 painkillers a day, soon followed and landed him back in hospital in 2008.
“There was one day I was supposed to be moving room, it was really busy,” he recalled. “People were packing things in plastic bags, and that noise has always really frazzled my brain.Well it happened again, except this time the seizure lasted two hours. When I came round, everything was black and I’ve not been able to see anything since.”
The former Cisco engineer desperately wants to be able to return to work and hopes to use the challenge, which will raise money for RNIB Scotland and three other charities, as a way of showing he is still capable.
“Apparently when people go blind they go through a sort of grieving period of about three to four years,” said Stuart, who lives in Broughton in supported accommodation. “Well the RNIB, who have really given me my life back, said mine lasted three to four days.
“I just decided I could go in the huff about what life has given me, or get on with it.”
He aims to tackle the 164mph record, set by ex-soldier Billy Baxter in 2003, in the summer. “I think I can do it, it’s certainly worth a try,” he added.
A spokesman for RNIB Scotland said: “Stuart’s efforts to raise funds for RNIB, as well as the example he sets, will help us support other people with sight loss to find fulfilment and a life in which they can still aspire to personal ambitions.”
For details visit www.raspberryrippleracing.com
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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