From Invictus Games competitor to cycle shop owner
We caught up with Don Maclean, 2014 Invictus Games competitor on what he’s up to now
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I served in the Royal Marines for 19 years the majority of that as a reservist both in Glasgow, where I’m originally from, and in Liverpool. A large part of my career was spent as a boat coxwain driving the Royal Marines raiding craft. Later on I served with 45 Commando in Afghanistan on Herrick 14. Whilst I was on foot patrol in April 2011 I stood on and IED which luckily for me only partially detonated, however causing significant damage to my right foot and ankle.
I spent five months in hospital and then 2 and a half years in and out of Headley Court during my rehabilitation. It was during my time at Headley Court that I discovered cycling was the perfect recovery for my injury. I was back cycling before I could walk. A year post injury I was a member of an 8 man injured team that completed the 3051 miles of Race Across America. This was a once in a lifetime experience with seven truly inspirational people and a huge step on my road to recovery.
You competed in the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014 – what was that like?
Taking part in the inaugural Invictus Games in London was a truly unforgettable experience. I could have never imagined how big an event it would be, the level of support from the public was humbling and for me it was a chance as an injured serviceman to say thank you to the British public.
For me sport is such an invaluable rehabilitation tool both physically and mentally, and in particular replacing those elements missing from military service such as teamwork, focus, dedication and commitment. All of those encapsulate the spirit of the Invictus Games
How did taking part in the Invictus Games help you with your recovery? And what impact did the Games have on your life?
The Invictus Games helped me realise how important it is for those in the wounded, injured and sick (WIS) community to come together and support each other. Although we competed against each other and for different nations, we share a unique bond. The Games showed everyone that it’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do that really matters. One of the most important messages of the ‘Invictus spirit’ is to inspire others, those at the start of their own recovery journey, that there really is life beyond injury.
What are you up to at the moment? We hear you’ve opened up a special cycling shop!
Before I was medically discharged from the Royal Marines I completed my cycle mechanic’s courses. Once I left the marines I taught cycling in schools as well as working as a bike mechanic. What was so satisfying for me was my journey had come full circle in that not only had cycling started my recovery as a sport but it has now also become my career.
I had talked about setting up a cycle themed café with three of my cycling instructor colleagues for ages and six months ago we decided to go for it. We spent almost four months demolishing and renovating the premises ourselves to make it what it is today.
The business is called ‘Ryde’ and it’s not just your average cafe. We are essentially a cycle coffee shop serving coffee and food alongside a bike workshop selling parts, accessories and clothing as well as offering bike repair and servicing.
Initially when I left the Royal Marines I felt that I wanted a quiet life, but that hunger and ambition for more, you might call it ‘commando spirit’ never leaves. Having my own bike shop was always a dream so as the Invictus poem says, ‘I am the master of my fate’ therefore I had to give it a go!
So what’s next for you? What are your hopes for the future?
We have many ideas for the business and we would ultimately like to create a cycling hub where we could lead rides from, offer cycle training, instruction and much more. Personally I would like to get veterans, whether injured or not, involved in some way. It would be great to use the shop not just as somewhere to meet up but where I could introduce others to the sport that has given me so much over the last few years. That could be as simple as getting somebody back out riding a bike again to potentially employing a veteran and giving somebody an opportunity who maybe hasn’t been as fortunate as me.
I feel extremely lucky for all the opportunities I’ve been given over the last five years, and I would never change what has happened, but I feel it’s really important to give something back.