Mountain Of Hell Military Team

Servicemen and women have made history by becoming the first disabled team to ever complete the fastest downhill race on the European mountain biking circuit. 

It’s known as the 'Mountain of Hell', and the unmarked route starts at the top of the glacier, 3,400 metres up at the top of a double black ski run in the Alps.

Racers have to pass through several posts, ride over snow, rocks, single tracks, steps and sheer descents to get to the end, with a drop in altitude of nearly 2,400 vertical metres.

It is how physically tough this race is that makes it so ‘hellish’.

The team of eight servicemen and women suffer from severe mental health conditions or other physical injuries.

Our reporter Hannah King followed the team through their journey:

Chris Jones is a member of the team and was medically discharged in 1998. 

He struggles to walk and can't peddle uphill.

Despite being told by a doctor that he would never ride a bike again, Chris became the first man to ever attempt riding an electric bike down the 'Mountain of Hell':

“Any time you’re the first person in the world to do something it’s a pretty big deal, isn’t it.”

Sergeant Phill Winton is also a member of the team. After serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq, he suffers from PTSD.

His other teammate Rachel Kipling, a reserve rider, was medically discharged for mental health reasons in 2017.

The group planned to start at the back of the race, as hundreds of bikes whizzing past could have lead to a disastrous start for PTSD sufferers.

Mountain of Hell Start Line
Riders in the race can reach speeds of up to 100km per hour, so the fastest ones can finish the 25km race in just half an hour.

But finishing in the quickest time is not the objective for the military team. They were riding and ensuring no man is left on the mountain.

It proved to be a tricky ride and the team was slowed by punctures and falls, but the highs and lows paid off as the team all crossed the finish line in time.

It was an emotional finish for team member Chris Jones:

“It was hard but not for the reasons you’re thinking.

“It’s difficult to put into words just how much I hurt, I could lie down on the concrete.”

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