Father and son plan 4,300 mile cycle ride across America

George and Josh Kohler are cycling across the US in aid of the Battle Back Centre

Joshua and George Kohler are preparing for a 4,300 mile cycle ride across America in aid of the Royal British Legion's Battle Back Centre. - Credit: Kohler family

A father and son are saddling up for an unsupported cycle ride from New York to San Francisco.

George and Josh Kohler, from Halvergate, near Great Yarmouth, are setting off on April 3 with a fundraising target of £10,000 for the Royal British Legion's Battle Back Centre.

They need to complete the journey within the 90 days of their visas and will be unsupported, relying on their tent and the goodwill of people they meet along the way.

Jane Kohler, wife and mother, has been masterminding the route which will take them to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and Monument Valley.

She said her husband George only took up cycling a year and half ago after son Josh, 19, was inspired to take on the self-funded challenge by a speaker Leon McCarron who visited his school via Zoom during the pandemic.

Mr Kohler, 53, is a former lieutenant colonel with the Army's Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Corps and has first hand experience of injured personnel returning from tours and the importance of support offered at Battle Back.

He said he had the best of inspirations in Nick Beighton, a paracanoeist who lost his legs on active service in Afghanistan and had benefited from the centre's rehabilitation programme.

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Having taken the call about a man being injured in an explosion, it was his story of battling back that he would be focusing on when times got tough, he said.

Mrs Kohler said the route had been loosely planned and would involve them "roughing it" most of the time although there was a network of people through an organisation called Warm Showers that would likely help.

She said the main challenges would be physical, the pair having to cover up to 70 miles every day.

She estimated the desert terrain would be among the most hazardous with weather events like tornados in Kansas likely to have an impact.

Last year the pair completed a John O'Groats to Land's End bike ride as a warm-up to the main event - the hills in other parts of the country "a baptism of fire" after the kind of routes Norfolk could offer.

To donate search Biking4Battleback on the Just Giving website.

You can also follow their journey on various social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter via @bikingforbattleback.

About Battle Back

The Royal British Legion established the Battle Back Centre in Lilleshall, Shropshire, in 2011 to support wounded and injured service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  At the time Mr Kohler served at the associated Regional Headquarters.

The centre's aim is to help ensure the best possible recovery for the armed forces community, whether it’s returning to duty or successfully transitioning to civilian life.

Focused around adaptive sport and adventurous training activities, such as wheelchair basketball, archery, mountain biking, climbing and caving, Battle Back helps build camaraderie as well as the chance to connect through shared experiences.

As well as continuing to support wounded, injured and sick service personnel, more recently the RBL have expanded the service with the introduction of wellbeing courses for veterans.

For more information visit the RBL website.