Michael Bulleyment will be joining his son, Johnathon, on the ride as part of his recovery after receiving funding for a recumbent trike from Help for Heroes and the RAOC (Royal Army Ordnance Corps) Association to help him get back in the saddle, having had 24 operations on his injured knees. This is the first time that father and son members of Help for Heroes Band of Brothers will be taking part together.
Michael was a Lance Corporal in the RAOC which he left in 1998 after 16 years of service. Following his discharge, due to family circumstances, Michael and Johnathon lost touch but things changed when three years ago, out of the blue, Johnathon contacted his father and their relationship has gone from strength to strength. Riding together in the BBBR will be testament to this and they are both very excited about doing something so momentous together.
Michael, 52, who lives in Maltby, South Yorkshire, says, “When Johnathon called me I dropped everything to see him and it’s been fantastic to get to know him again, but now as a man. It was Johnathon who told me about the Band of Brothers and suggested I get in touch with Help for Heroes, and it is this that made it possible for me to get back on a bike and feel like I used to – I’ve lost two stone in weight in six months and I feel great.
“When Johnathon was a child I used to do lots of mountain biking to keep fit and he used to come with me, so doing the BBBR together will take me back to these happy times and it will be fabulous. We’ve done a few rides together at weekends, even though we live far apart, and I’m really looking forward to next year.”
Originally they planned to take part in the 2020 event, which was cancelled due to the coronovirus pandemic, but the benefit of the ride now taking part in 2021 is that they both have more time to train! Although Johnathon stresses that, from his experience of last year, the ride is very manageable. “It’s not a race and is very much about us all doing the journey together. You may be cycling 75 miles in a day, but you have plenty of stops along the way for food and to hear about the history of where you are. The camaraderie is also amazing – so as you chat to other veterans and fundraisers, admire the scenery and get uplifted by people waving flags at you as you go past, the miles just disappear without you realising.”
The extra time will give Michael a chance to recover from several recent operations for cancer and to build his confidence in riding his bike. He’s been training by cycling with another local veteran who has taken part in the Warrior Games and Invictus Games.
He comments, “I’ve been aiming to do 50 miles in three-and-a-half hours over the past few months and, especially during the pandemic, I have found it a relief and a release. I have also now been inspired to talk to the Invictus Games about putting my name forward to take part so, who knows – the BBBR ride could be the start of another kind of journey.”
Riding alongside our veterans, witnessing how your support can change lives, is one of the unique experiences of our annual charity bike ride.
Our Big Battlefield Bike Ride 2021, The Somme has everything - camaraderie, inspiration and a new route along the entire Western Front. Join us and show our veterans we are here for them. We are Stronger Together.