Battle Back Team makes history at Megavalanche Challenge

Eight wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans took on the Megavalanche - mountain biking’s toughest challenge.

The group was the first disabled team, and the first Battle Back team, to complete the epic event. As one of the longest downhill races in the world it's not for the fainthearted. The race, taking place in July, went over glaciers and through forests.

During the race the riders hit speeds of up to 50mph

Colour Sergeant Roger Coates, who runs the Battle Back programme in Catterick, led the team as they tackled the race.


Taking place in Alpe d’Huez, Megavalanche sees 1,400 people from 20 countries train and race over four days.

Maj Austin Billings RAMC, serving WIS, tackles the Megavalanche.

CSgt Coates had entered Megavalanche twice before. So he knew exactly the training, equipment, commitment and motivation needed to take part.

“Sport provides optimism, self-belief and confidence in what can be achieved. This is proven to be of particular importance to this group,” he said.  “All these benefits can be translated outside of sport and into day to day life. Sport helps with coping strategies and resilience – which is so important on an individual’s recovery journey.”

During the race the riders hit speeds of up to 50mph down a black diamond ski run.

Cpl Rachel Kipling RAMC, serving WIS.

“Our cyclists had to cross a 2km frozen glacier pushing, pulling, dragging and lifting each other from one icy plateau to another. Another 20km had them twisting and turning through a dense mountainside forest with a couple of short but tortuous climbs thrown in for good measure. Finally a descent along a steep forest track at high speed saw them across the finish line and into the history books,” said CSgt Coates.

“While most people take part in Megavalanche as individuals, we were the first team to complete, working together to ensure everyone finished. And, to avoid injury, we placed ourselves at the rear of the infamous mass start to ensure the safety of our riders.”

The team after completing the gruelling race.

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