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Dan Eley

March 14, 2012

A man left paralysed in an accident in Colombia has reached the half-way point on a virtual 550-mile cycle ride.

Daniel Eley, 33, from Witley in Surrey, broke his neck while diving into a shallow river on New Year’s Day 2010. He now uses a wheelchair.

He is using a bike which electronically stimulates the major muscle groups in his legs to create a cycling motion.

He is covering the equivalent distance from Guildford to Glasgow, averaging 35 miles a week in aid of Spinal Research.

He is hoping to raise £10,000, and since beginning his virtual ride on 9 January has covered 275 miles on his Functional Electrical Stimulation bike, which would place him just past the city of York on the map.

The distance of 550 miles is equivalent to cycling from the Spinal Research headquarters near Guildford, from where Mr Eley is undertaking his challenge, to The Queen Elizabeth Spinal Injury Centre in Glasgow.

He said: “I’m not voluntarily moving my muscles… I’ve got electro-pads on my quadriceps, gluteus muscles and hamstrings, and the computer on top of the bike stimulates the muscles in a sequence which creates a cycling motion.”

As he has some movement in his arms, he is also using a hand cycle to complete his ride.

Mr Eley said after eight weeks he had noticed a significant increase in the muscle tone in his legs.

“At the beginning I was barely able to cycle for 20 minutes without my legs becoming tired, against resistance level two.

“Now eight weeks later, with the same level of stimulation, I am able to cycle for 45 minutes against resistance level three, at a higher speed, and then after a five-minute break continue for another 45 minutes.”

Care home

Mr Eley, who was working as a teacher in Colombia, dived into a “deceptively shallow river” in the Amazon jungle.

After three days at a clinic in the jungle, he was transferred to a hospital in Bogota.

After two months, and as a result of a fundraising campaign, he was flown back to the UK and taken to the specialist Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire.

He stayed there until November 2010 and now lives in a care home for disabled people near the town where he grew up in Surrey.

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