An inspirational attitude

Two years after a crash that left him paralysed, trials legend Martyn Ashton is riding again

When you had your accident at a trials demo at Silverstone, did you know how serious things were?

“Right away. My injury is simple, I have no movement and feeling below the injury point and there is no recovery. That’s something I knew immediately after my accident, I just knew. I felt quite buzzed up at that time and I was just thinking: ‘Oh my God, I’m not dead!’”

What happened next?

“The combination of not being dead, and knowing I was paralysed, meant I made an instant decision to move on right away. I thought, dwelling on the crash isn’t going to take me anywhere, and looking back doesn’t change what’s happening right now.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to think about it — I just knew that I needed to be really positive, thankful and grateful. And that has been a blessing.”

That’s so impressive; most of us get depressed when we’ve broken a finger!

“I did have those thoughts, but they never really last that long. They’re usually when I’m tired. In the past, with an injury I could recover from, I was a nightmare; sitting on the sofa and sulking.

Wings for life: Ashton's charity of choice (Esper)

Wings for life: Ashton’s charity of choice (Esper)

I’ve definitely had a lot of smaller injuries too, and I’ve had those thoughts: ‘what a chore it is to
get back’. But I think this has taught me a lot about myself and about life. I genuinely feel like it’s not the end of the world. I haven’t broken my back and had a horrible time; I’ve broken it and had
good experiences.”

Did cycling and the drive to get back on your bike help?

“It wasn’t important to me to think, ‘When am I going to get back on the bike?’ but just that I’m a lucky person. The cycling community has been a big thing for me getting back.

It was tough in hospital, when I was trying to finish Road Bike Party 2 and having to watch my last day’s riding over and over again. I just presumed riding a bike would happen again and I would get back. I knew if the opportunity was there I’d be mad not to.”

The desire to live life on the edge remains (Esper)

The desire to live life on the edge remains (Esper)

And the Back on Track video was the opportunity?

“Yes, eventually the solution was very simple, we just put a sitski seat on a mountain bike and I was pushed down the hill at Antur Stiniog. Making that video, we all had a genuinely amazing experience.”

What’s your focus now?

“I’m an ambassador for Wings for Life, a charity created to raise funds to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. I discovered them in hospital after my accident when I was trawling the internet. It really had an impact on me, because it was so upbeat that it really was going to find a cure.

No one else says that. It wasn’t a personal connection to me, but to think that someone wants to break the rule that spinal injury really is permanent, is inspiring to me.

Lifting spirits at WorldRun in 2015 (Esper)

Lifting spirits at WorldRun in 2015 (Esper)

“Wings for Life’s major event is called World Run — it happens at the same moment around the world, everyone starts at the same time and as the car chases you you’re out. The Athertons rode next to the chase car last year, I think that’s where the Foxhunt comes from. The race keeps running until the last person is caught.”

World Run takes place on May 8. Go to for entry.