From life threatening injuries to the Dolomiti Superbike

31 March 2023

The James Wilkinson journey part 1

The health benefits of exercise are well known. Exercise, particularly outside in green spaces, has a positive impact on our physical and mental health. With this in mind, Iron Sally Coaching has joined forces with TORQ Nutrition in supporting a rider to take on a serious sporting challenge, namely the Dolomiti Superbike on the 8th of July in the stunning Italian Dolomites. The race organiser is providing
the rider with free accommodation and race entry, while Iron Sally Coaching and TORQ are contributing £300 towards the travel costs as well as providing performance coaching and nutrition. The 123km race sends riders up 3500m of vertical ascent – a serious challenge for any rider, but especially so for James.

Here is his inspirational story:

“I’m James Wilkinson a former corporal with the Royal Army veterinary Corps. I joined the Army in early 2007, by the end of the year I was deployed on my first tour of Afghanistan. I completed Herrick 7 and 9 working military search dogs. March 2011 would be my third and final trip to Helmand. 

I arrived in Afghanistan and very quickly was out supporting troops on the ground with my search dog Tam looking for arms and explosives. About three months into the tour working out of check point Zarawar on the 16th June I was involved in a IED (road side bomb) strike and left with life threatening injuries which included a severed femoral artery, main vein and nerve damage to the left groin, fragments to the abdomen and also irreparable damage to the left hip which had to be replaced. 

I was treated in hospital in Camp Bastion and flown back to queen Elizabeth hospital Birmingham while in an induced coma. Many surgeries later and over a month in hospital I was allowed home to recover. This is when the hard work really started and I began the long road to recovery. 

I was medically discharged from the Army in September 2014. While rehabilitating at Headley Court, I was diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was treated for this during my admissions with help from the psychiatrists and community psychiatric nurses. 

After discharge my wife Rebecca and I set up the company Operation K9, a canine Hydrotherapy and Rehabilitation centre, where I was able to take the valuable lessons learned in my rehabilitation and transfer them to dogs. We are lucky to live near Dalby Forest, which is where I found a passion for mountain biking.  I got myself a mountain bike and started going out on my own exploring the forest and found not only did it benefit me physically, but I found it made massive improvements to my mental health. I fell in love with the sport and loved being out on the bike. Our 3 boys have also become bike mad so it is an activity we can enjoy as a family.

I’m now almost 11 years into my injury journey, and recently completed a number of races on my E-Bike, including Ard Rock, Ard Moors, Tweed Love, and the final round of the Scottish Enduro Series, which I never thought I would ever be fit enough to do. 

Just over 12 weeks ago, I had my right hip replaced and having the time off by bike has made me realise how important the sport is to my physical and mental health. This brings me to today, signing up to probably one of the biggest physical challenges of my life, taking on Dolomiti Superbike with support from Iron Sally Coaching and TORQ. I have less than four months to get into the shape of my life and I feel very lucky to have the support from the professionals to get me to a place I didn’t think was possible after my injuries”

We are excited and honoured to support James in his journey to the Dolomites and in following his story we hope to inspire others to get outside and exercise. James literally is starting from zero training following his surgery and, although his riding up until this point has been on an E-Bike, James is preparing to conquer the race on a normal MTB. We just need to find him a bike first because he still does not have one! Please do get in touch (sally@ironsallycoaching.com) if you think you might be able to sponsor James with a bike.

Today’s Plan will support James as his data and analytics partner and will provide support leading up to and during the Dolomiti Superbike. Today’s Plan is thrilled to support James in his incredible and inspirational journey.