A Crawley soldier is gearing up for a mammoth charity challenge that will see him hand-cycle more than 3,000 miles across America.
A brutal training regime has taken its toll on Sgt Jay Baldwin, 30, who told the Observer he was desperate for the challenge to begin.
Jay, of Northgate, lost both legs just above the knee when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in January 2012.
In around five weeks’ time, he and 11 other serving and former members of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR) will take on the ride of a lifetime.
Jay said: “I am buzzing for the idea and buzzing for the event but the training is getting a bit much - I have been training since January.
“I think some people think we are going to get on our bikes and ride, but I am having to train twice a day every day.
“I am excited but I wish it would hurry up and get here.”
Earlier this year, Jay underwent pioneering surgery in Australia which saw him fitted with permanent implants on which to connect his prosthetic legs. He will be the only member of the team using a hand bike for the challenge.
He admitted his body was struggling to adapt to the strict training programme, which has seen his body weight drop from 110kg to 79kg.
He said: “There is a lot of pressure, mentally and physically, but when you come together as a team it is extremely do-able.
“I’m not looking forward to the Rockies because that is uphill. It is a lot harder for me to get up the hills than most of the guys.”
The group will cycle from the east to west coast, starting at Annapolis, Maryland, on September 7 and ending two weeks later at Santa Monica Pier, California. They will cross 12 states during the challenge and climb more than 170,000ft. The team, known as the Tigers, will raise money for its regimental charity, the Friends of PWRR.
The charity provides ongoing support for soldiers and their families, including assistance in making life easier following disability or injury, as well supporting and advising soldiers and their families through difficult times.
To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/Jay-Baldwin1/ or http://www.justgiving.com/teams/ridetorecovery/
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.crawleyobserver.co.uk
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/crawleyobserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @Crawley_Obby
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Crawley Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.