A MOTORCYLE racer has become only the second paraplegic to complete the famously dangerous Isle of Man TT circuit.
Talan Skeels-Piggins, who is paralysed from the chest down after a road accident in 2003, took part in the Classic TT Parade around the world renowned 37.7-mile course last month.
The 48 year-old from Falmouth told the Packet: “I had a little cry when I finished it. It was quite emotional having taken eight years to get permission to enter.
“I wanted to prove what is possible for people with disabilities. There were a lot of racers from the pits watching me on the start line, so I pinned the throttle, dumped the clutch and went off like a scolded cat. After I completed it several of them came up and nodded in recognition of what I’d done, which was a nice feeling.”
The previous paraplegic entrant was a former Manx GP race winner, who took four attempts to complete the course.
Talan, who now lives in Ashtead, Surrey, averaged 90mph in his lap, hitting a top speed of 142mph. His bike has several adaptations, including straps to keep his knees and feet in place and a lap strap, which he was forced to discard after it came undone.
The lap strap applies downward pressure to stop him leaving the bike over jumps, but he slowed down and threw it to marshals after it came loose. He knew that if he stopped altogether, he would be told to withdraw.
Talan’s parents still live in Falmouth and his great grandfather Chippy Trerise was the first traffic policeman to use a motorbike in the area.
He has had a long-standing love affair with bikes, despite riding one during his life-changing accident 16 years ago.
He has set up charity The Bike Experience to teach disabled people how to ride motorcycles and his lap was designed to raise awareness of the organisation.
“There are lots of different challenges that people with disabilities face but I wanted to show them that they can overcome problems and carry on with their passions.
“Just before the lap it felt like I was taking a massive exam and I knew I had to put it into practice. I did not want to fail because of the weight of expectation upon me.”
Talan, who was the 2015 World Champion 600cc motorcyclist (paralysed category) in Italy and also a British alpine skier, now has his eyes firmly set on competing in the Manx Grand Prix.
It would take a brave man to bet against him achieving his goal.