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Talen Skeels-Piggins

In 2003 Talan was paralysed form the chest down (T4/5) after a motorcycle accident.  For a few years he thought it was impossible to ride again, but then a ‘light bulb’ moment meant he thought he would give it a go.
   
" Dear David,
After a few hectic days I have finally got some time to relax and get an email off to you.

I was paralysed in March 2003 after getting myself run over by a car, not the brightest thing I've ever done, but there we go.  I turned my attention to skiing and worked my way steadily upwards until I represented GB at the 2010 Winter Paralympics.  Now it is time to turn my focus on motorbikes.

Last year I started doing the odd track day on an adapted GSX-R1000 K6.  It was amazing and I felt the same rush as I had done all those years previous when I used to ride a CBR600F. 

My parents weren't too happy as it was due to a bike, or getting knocked off one and thrown under the on-coming traffic that caused me to be in a wheelchair in the first place, and I had to assure them I would only ride on a track.

This year I have upped the number of track days as well as taking in Levels 1 & 2 of the California Superbike School. This has improved my riding techniques and allowed me to ride faster and subsequently I have applied for, and been awarded my ACU race licence (pending me sorting out my stabilisers). 

This is the first time a 'solo' motorcycle licence has been given to a paraplegic.  I am aiming to enter my first race on 4th Sept at Castle Combe, as that will give me time to repair the SV650 and get the stabilisers sorted. 

I am racing a Minitwin, although it is now in the garage after I crashed going into Quarry corner a bit too fast.  I was training with an able-bodied racer and he can corner faster as he can hang off the bike, but I wasn't using that as an excuse, right up to the point where the front wheel couldn't hold on!!

My website is:
http://web.me.com/tskeelspiggins/Disabled_Motorcycling/Welcome.html  

Please feel free to post this up and my email address for those who want to learn more (email: tskeelspiggins@hotmail.com ).  I am also getting a Suzuki GSX-R600 SRAD converted for use and will be using it to help show bikers who have been paralysed how they can ride again.  I have the permission of Castle Combe organisation to use the circuit at lunchtime so there are no other bikes out on the circuit for the bikers first time out.

 There will be a BBC Inside Out West programme about the journey I have been taking to get my race licence, so hopefully it will inspire a few others to come back to biking.

Wishing you, and everyone else who carries on with the activities they are passionate about, all the best.
Kind regards
Talan "


Passionate about riding bikes, Talan eased himself back into the saddle in 2009 by buying and converting a Suzuki GSX-R1000 K6.   Excited and enthused about his new found adrenaline feeder, he quickly realised that racing bikes was the challenge he sought.  After careful deliberation, the decision was made to try and race in the Minitwin series.  

No paraplegic has ever been issued a solo-motorcycle race licence by the Auto Cycle Union, so the ground remains unbroken, uncharted and unknown.......until now.

The stabilisers (see picture right) have a button that drops them down, but to get them up is an automatic system.  You pull the clutch in, arm the stabiliser unit, then as you release the clutch (whilst accelerating) a switch is made and the stabilisers raise up under the swing arm. 
The mechanism weighs about 10kg in total, with 8kg being the arms and that is low down and reduced the Centre of Gravity.  In comparison, my first attempt at stabilisers weighed in at 40kg and was tucked up under the seat, so very heavy and raised the Centre of Gravity.
 

The amount of work you can do to the SV is limited bythe rules ad regulations of the Minitwin race series.  No matter how much money you spend, you can only have 72bhp at the back wheel, so it stops the budgets going sky high.  To start with, I’ve done nothing to improve the performance apart from the suspension on the front forks and the basics required for racing.

 
Once I have done a few races, I’ll look to bring the bike up a few levels.