Melbourn man help raises �70k for armed forces charities

A CYCLIST has helped raise �78,000 for charity by pedalling 3,000 miles across America in memory of his half-brother who was killed in Afghanistan.

David Wright of Melbourn, and family members and friends tackled the gruelling Race Across America cycle challenge and managed to beat their target time by almost 24 hours.

Team Swift And Bold, named after the light infantry’s motto, was competing to honour Major James Joshua Bowman, the second most senior member of the armed forces to die in Afghanistan, who was killed after a rogue soldier opened fire inside a shared base.

Mr Wright said: “We felt like he was with us in America.

“He would have been so proud of what we did. I don’t think he would have believed we could do that – we couldn’t believe we could do it.”

The 47-year-old and his teammates flew to the States for the race which started in Oceanside, California.

The route took them across both the Rockies and Appalachian mountains before ending in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Originally, Team Swift And Bold thought they would finish the race in seven days, but managed to complete the course in six days and four hours.

Two cyclists in the freelance electronic engineer’s team swapped every 20 minutes for four hours – to enable them to rest in the support vehicle – and were leading the race until a slight navigational error meant they finished second.

“We were leading and then the Germans in second place started catching up, and on the last day they were within 10 minutes and we were racing like mad,” said Mr Wright.

“We made a slight navigational error and they beat us by 20 minutes.”

Despite the competition, Mr Wright said the atmosphere was amazing and all the teams supported one another.

All the money raised by Team Swift And Bold will be split between Major Bowman’s favourite military charities, ABF The Soldiers Charity, Care for Casualties (The Rifles) and The Gurkha Welfare Trust.

Despite the amount he helped raise Mr Wright said it might be a while before he attempts it again.

He said: “We had a crew of nine and three of them are talking about doing it themselves.

“I won’t do it next year, but I might do it again at some point.”