A former military man who served in Afghanistan has swapped his stripes for bikes and launched a new cycling business in Nidderdale.
After ending his 39-year army career, Vern Overton decided to retrain as a bike mechanic, triathlon coach and mountain bike leader and set up his own firm in Darley.
It is hoped the new venture will tap into the area’s Tour de France legacy, while showcasing the stunning Nidderdale countryside.
Mr Overton said: “I recently retired from the army after serving for 12 months in Afghanistan and ending my career commanding junior soldiers at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.
“Rather than go back to Windsor, where we had a base, my wife Lorna and I decided to stay and we bought a cottage in Darley as we fell in love with the area.
“I wanted to make the best use of my new qualifications and do something I enjoyed so I bought some bikes.”
Based at a former dairy farm in Low Lane, Vern Overton Cycling offers bike hire, repairs and a ride leading and guiding company.
Mr Overton said: “The bikes I offer are high quality road bikes and mountain bikes. As well as provide bikes for hire, I am able to repair bikes for others and lead groups of riders around local roads and trails, such as the new mountain bike track build by Yorkshire Water near Fewston Reservoir.”
Mr Overton, who still does triathlon coaching for junior soldiers at Penny Pot Lane, joined the army aged 16, rising through the ranks from Guardsman to Lieutenant Colonel.
He said: “I was the force Quartermaster at Camp Bastion, in Afghanistan, so I was in charge of the kit. I was there in the final year with the aim of getting out safely in one piece.
“I served in the Grenadier Guards for 39 years, which was a long old time, hence why, I’m doing something I really enjoy doing.
“It’s a massive difference to being in the army but it’s about working with people and getting on with people so my military career has stood me in good stead.”
Keen cyclist Mr Overton has noticed a surge in popularity for the sport since the Tour de France came to the area last year, coupled with this year’s inaugural Tour de Yorkshire event.
He said: “I think there was always a good interest in Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, but I think in this area it really has grown in popularity. There has been a big increase in road biking in particular.”