Young and talented grant will help downhill mountain bike racer hit the heights

£1,000 will help cover costs of travel and equipment

Young and talented grant will help downhill mountain bike racer hit the heights

A GRANT from Dorset Community Foundation will help 13-year-old downhill mountain bike racer Reed Darley’s quest to take on the best in the world.

The Ferndown youngster is already in the UK’s top ten among his age group and has set his sights on representing his country in World Cup races around the globe in the hair-raising sport that involves hurtling down mountain sides at more than 40mph.

He has been awarded £1,000 from the foundation’s Lord Lieutenant’s Fund for Young and Talented, which is also supported by Wimborne engineering company Superior Seals. The fund awards grants of up to £1,000 towards costs that might prevent youngsters from making the most of their natural ability.

This year it has awarded a total of more than £11,000 to 15 young sports people.

The Ferndown Middle School pupil and parents Louisa and Mark will use the grant to help towards a new specialist downhill racing bike, which will cost more than £2,000, as well as travel, entry fees, clothing and equipment.

Reed, who has been racing bikes since he was nine, has to travel all over England and Wales to take part in regional and national events. His mum said he isn’t daunted by the dizzying heights of the courses, which involve jumps, twists and risky routes across jagged rock gardens.

“You get a lot of adrenalin before the start and you’re so nervous at the top,” said Reed. “But once you get off the start gate, it’s kind of all right. I still talk to myself when I’m going down to help me concentrate but it’s good.”

His mum added: “He just loves it and he has always had a natural flair for racing bike. The courses are incredibly steep and although it takes them just three minutes to race down, it takes us an hour to walk it. It’s crazy, but it’s great. It’s what he loves and we support him a hundred per cent.”

The sport’s dangerous side was brought home to the family when Reed took a major tumble during a race in Wales recently. “My front wheel slipped on a bank and I went straight on to my head,” said Reed. “I was annoyed when I found out I had been three seconds ahead at that point.”

Louisa added: “The medics brought him down so it wasn’t too good, he bashed his head and he had a sore neck but he passed the concussion tests. It’s the negative side of racing but he has all the protective gear and he is very confident at what he does, and of course there are risks with every sport.”

We applied and were over the moon that Reed had been chosen

The family have converted a camper van so that they have somewhere to stay and store Reed’s equipment at race meetings. “Most weekends we’re trying to get him to a different race or bike park to give him as many opportunities as possible to learn and gain experience,” said Louisa.

The plan is for Reed to keep competing at a high level and hopefully be talent scouted by a racing team. “I go to the gym four times a week and practice riding whenever I can,” said Reed. “It’s a lot of work but I’m determined to keep on getting better.”

The family found out about the foundation’s fund through a magazine article. “We applied and were over the moon that Reed had been chosen,” said Louisa.

Reed added: “It’s amazing and it’ll make a lot of difference. It will help my mum and dad pay off the new downhill bike for me and also with getting more tyres and paying for my race entries.”

Dorset Community Foundation chief executive Grant Robson said: “Reed is one of the youngest beneficiaries of the fund but we recognised both his talent and his determination. The whole ethos of the fund is to allow young people to fulfil their potential when there are financial barriers in their way and this is a perfect example. We will watch his progress with interest.”

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