Fighting Back When Facing Adversity

Oct 30, 2018
by Karl Chapman  
So who is Wormy? I caught up with JWDTphotography for a photo shoot at Danny Hart's Descend Bike Park to help tell my story

People ask me why I took up this sport, and it’s pretty straightforward in my mind. I had an incident where I fell 40 ft and I broke both my legs and back and couldn’t walk. My injuries were serious enough for the doctors to have to consider whether I would ever walk again. I shattered both heals, broke all 10 metatarsals, snapped my Achilles' tendons, snapped my ankles and broke my lower back in 5 places.

This affected me badly in life. I was in a wheelchair for nearly 2 years and in 2 casts as I was undergoing operations. This meant I was a blue badge holder for over 2 years and under high disability. This was a tough part in my life as I've always been active but I always refused to believe this would be my life long term. During one consultation with one of the many medics I was under the care of, the doctor said a bike may help my ankles as they were fused.

Taking on one of the biggest drops at the bike park

Sometimes photographers ask for a face full of roost at Ard Rock Enduro

This doctor got me thinking, absolutely yes, I had to have a go at cycling on the road, but because I couldn’t walk or stand properly, when I would stop the bike I would have to fall off on my side to get off the bike, for this reason I had to ride clipped and still do. I realised this wasn’t a safe way of cycling and following doctors advice. So my next step was to get a mountain bike and watched some YouTube videos and decided that Fort William was the place to learn to ride a bike!

I was wrong about Fort William though. With no cycling experience, I entered an SDA and came 3rd to LAST at this point I was still unable to walk properly. But soon after this, things took a turn for the worse. Due to relentless rehabilitation and no money I had to end my cycling. It was a very short period on the bike but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

After this short episode of riding, for around 3 years I wanted to get a bike but couldn’t afford one as I had lost my company and I had nothing. Once my leg became a lot better through insane determination I managed to get back to work and the first thing I was going to do was get another bike. I bought myself a used Lapierre Spicy Team for £1800 approximately 2 years ago. I bloody loved it.

Now riding downhill events, bring on the big features!

So far I have done around 5 enduro events normally coming mid-field but I do struggle with the longer distances all the time due to my ankles. This is a result of having had numerous operations and sometimes suffering from stiffness. I then realised full-time enduro wasn’t for me as my body was struggling. So back in September 2017 I decided to give downhill a go. I got myself a Specialized Demo 8 S-Works 2017 and love it. I have been practising at local tracks like Havok Bike park which is my regular along with Revolution bike park. I book uplifts as much as I possibly can to learn the skills I need.

So the races I am lining up to do or have recently done are most Downhill series this year. SDA, PEARCE CYCLES, GRAVITY, BDS, PMBA and the Ard Rock Enduro and I plan on giving it my all. I am quite new to the cycling world but currently a midfield rider. I think I had a 10th, 8th, 7th and 3rd as well. I just need to learn to stay on my bike. I have built a Santa Cruz Jackal DJ bike to try improve my jumping skills as this is all that lets me down when racing. I hope to get up in the top 5 riders this season on a regular basis. I know I can do it. I just need some fine tuning and plenty of track time. I've also committed myself to some more enduro races, mainly the PMBA series in Kirroughtree and their final round at Lee Quarry and Havok Bike park in October.


I've got to say financing all this biking is hard work but worth it. I have given up smoking approximately 12 months ago for cycling and I attend the gym 4-5 days a week and ride weekends. I now have a new Santa Cruz Nomad 4 and I have been training hard and I have now managed to get myself up to a top 10 which I am chuffed about especially when you consider how little ride time I have had and experience. I have grown a strong following and a good Instagram presence and think 2019 will be my season. I am a lot stronger and fitter than ever and will continue to train through the winter. I've also started to organise rides for fellow MTBers, a sort of social gathering. This gives a chance for riders to meet up with other riders, so far at Gisburn and Whinlatter and a few uplifts. These are for all levels of riders.

Putting the new Nomad through it's paces at Ardrock

So I’ll often hear people asking me what “Wormy” really means.

I wanted to try and create something to help give something back, in return for what mountain biking has given me. I wanted to do this selflessly. As wormy was already known and established to me, I used this to create a little brand. My nickname wormy was given to me when I was young due to the fact I used to eat so much food, yet I was so skinny. I have now created items that people can buy. From cheaper items like keyrigs and cups through to hats and t-shirts. All the money that is made from this will be used to help others. This is totally non-profit. It’s all a new venture, but my idea is to save up a set amount, who knows, maybe £500 at a time. Then when enough merchandise has sold I'll have a poll on Instagram with a couple of options of what the money should be used for, kind of vote for your favourite. The things the money will be used for will be charitable, for example helping cycling related injury charities, helping air ambulances and mountain rescue teams. I'd like to help people who can’t afford to cycle to maybe get the chance to have a go. It really depends on how much it raises, and this is up to the people out there, and in return, people get something cool from a rad t-shirt or cup and that feeling they have helped someone. I also have started a little race team WORMY MTB RACING which now has 2 sponsored riders who I am helping get into racing and helping with the costs of biking. In time I hope this to progress and have larger numbers of sponsors for the group and help more people.

I have been very lucky in the last few years and I strongly feel the urge that I should be helping others to get lucky. It's all about my motto now living the dream

Racing the Alpinestars Trail attack at Hamsterley Forest

Cheers to Jerry and Phil for meeting up with me on a number of occasions and doing some photo shoots. I'd also like to say a massive shout out to my partner and family who have been solid through this period of my life and the ongoing physiotherapy. This would have been an impossible journey without them. I would like to say a huge thanks to all my sponsors in what they have done for me:- Royal Racing, 7iDP 7protection, Peatys Products, Crankbrothers, Joes bikes, Squad Pro Bike, Whitakers signs, Pedal North, Mtb strapon, Derailed, Fortitude Fitness LTD, Also to Can’t Quit Cartel, Sick Bicycles and Shred Hedz for inspiring me to get to where I have and for also doing things to help others. Giving not just taking! INSPIRATIONAL!! See you on the trails dudes!!

Follow me on my journey on Instagram at @wormy_mtb




46 Comments

  • 18 0
 Good for you man. I'm also quite disabled, and mountain biking, and it's hard to persevere. I find I just work on my bicycle lots, and tweak it, then ride minimally kind of like testing. It's depressing because I used to not care about maintenance, and just ride hard every day as if it was an extension of my body, but it's also kind of mindful, there's LOTS to learn! like I just learned how bearings are supposed to work properly.
  • 3 0
 Ditto, though I am riding and managing fatigue (as a result of previous cancer treatment). Like Wormy, entering events or races can really assist with motivation to ride and train. At the moment, I feel my effort has plateaued as I fight with my fatigue and I'd love to enter something to push on again, but life and child care and a lack of local enduro type events is holding me back at the mo.
  • 4 0
 It’s hard but just remember every time you finish a race you know how well you have done and how hard it was for you. Keep positive and stay strong
  • 4 0
 I just rebuilt my bike for the first time the other week and what a feeling it was. Just have a go at the maintenance side, it’s a great thing to be able to look after your own machine
  • 6 0
 Total respect, I have been on crutches now for three months after a horrible ankle injury,
the only thing that keeps me positive is knowing that one day I will be back on my bike/s..
  • 3 0
 Won’t be long bro..... keep her polished and ready for the next ride
  • 4 0
 Great stuff! I got hurt in the Army and was severely limited as to the things I could do. For 3 years I kinda just lingered in depression mode. Then one day I found I could ride a bike. A few weeks later I found my injury was actually feeling better the more I ride! Seeing others who were even worse off rising back up through MTB riding is great!
  • 1 0
 Thanks buddy....
  • 4 0
 I would like to thank everyone for all your kind words. I am just having fun riding bikes with cool people and for people to have such a interest in what I am trying to do is overwhelming. Thanks guys and if you ever see me on the trails come say hi
  • 3 0
 wow this all sounds familiar, I broke 3 vertabrae racing motocross then suffered a stroke during surgery they ended up doing a fusion of 3 vertabrae with hardware and didnt know I was going to walk again. long road back but pretty much fully back to normal 9 years later, started riding motorcycles on the street and picked up mtb 2 years ago and have been in love since lots of uplift days and trail riding. Congrats on the journey and the success!
  • 1 0
 Mtb is a passion...... don’t think it’s aomey you can loose
  • 3 0
 That sounds familiar. I broke 3 vertebrae and have them fused as well (hopefully they'll take out the pins one day). One was a burst fracture poking into my spinal cord. That and an arm and my neck. It's always good to read there's plenty of people that work on the long road back. I felt that just the thought of getting back to doing what I loved helped me push and work on my recovery. Managed to get back on my bike after a year! To be even more positive, the bike park where it happened gave me a free hoodie, but I won't be able to ride there ever again.
  • 3 0
 @vesko: yeah, they fused three of mine, and actually crushed up a dead guys femur to form the middle vertabrae as mind was completely shattered. one of mine was actually pressing on my spinal cord too, small world. During surgery a blood vessel was kinked and basically woke up paralyzed from the waist down on my left side with no feeling in my right side. took about a year but i started walking and now just have some lingering nerve damage and weakness but pretty much back to normal this also happened almost 10 years ago when i was 15 so i believe doing it young drastically improves your outlook.
  • 3 0
 This gives me hope! I've been on the couch now for one month with a smashed pelvis, 2 more months until I can stand up again. Doc says about a month after that I should be able to walk, then rehab for months to get back to normal ish! I never thought I would miss waking up at 5am to go to work every morning... Nothing compared to what you have went through, respect!
  • 3 0
 This story made my day. I'm on a military deployment and the bright light at the end of it was getting back on the bike. Instead I injured my knee running on a goddamn treadmill trying to keep my lungs fit for riding and now I'm worried about being able to pedal. The crazy shit you guys overcome makes my problems feel like a breeze. Thanks for posting.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for your comment and much love for all your hard work in the military to keep this world a safer place
  • 6 0
 Yeah Boii!!!
  • 3 0
 Thanks buddy for everything
  • 5 0
 Fair play dude, inspirational stuff, keep at it.
  • 2 0
 Thank you
  • 1 0
 Blooming heck, I've met you a few times, but I never realised your story dude, blown away by your determination and seeing you this weekend at Matt and netts farewell ride, nobody would know that you'd been in a wheelchair a couple of years ago. Inspiration for injured riders. Good on ya!
  • 2 0
 Great article; inspirational and cool photos! Well done and good for you man!!!
  • 2 0
 Get it "Wormy"! I'm on the long road to recovery myself after breaking my neck in July. You're a motivator!
  • 2 0
 keep shredding dude! respect
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the support
  • 2 0
 What an inspirational and impressive story. Good luck and stay strong!
  • 2 0
 Thanks dude, keep those trails lit
  • 2 0
 @wormy-mtb:
Is there an option to buy items online?
  • 1 0
 @elkhan: there will be I you keep and eye on my Instagram page and my Facebook. A lot of things are still in production but will be available really soon
  • 2 0
 Keep pushing on and never give up!
  • 1 0
 I never have and I never will
  • 2 0
 Yes dude!
keep chewing that dirt :-)
yeeeeeoooow
  • 2 0
 Cheers bro
  • 2 0
 Yes Karl. Awesome article. Emily and I will see you at ArdRock ????
  • 1 0
 I certainly hope so if they will have me back again
  • 2 0
 Inspirational! Keep on shredding!!
  • 1 0
 Thank you
  • 2 0
 More power to ya man ????????????????good luck in 2019
  • 1 0
 Thanks buddy
  • 2 0
 Great story. Gotta ask though - how did you fall 40ft? That's huge.
  • 2 0
 Top fucking boy!
  • 1 0
 Lol to the point lol
  • 2 0
 Awesome
  • 1 0
 Thanks
  • 2 0
 fantastic achievement!
  • 1 0
 Inspiration to us all, keep it up, you're getting there!

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