The Englishman Who Rode a Bike in Belgium

I already posted that 2018 would be the year of just one challenge. It is something already very special for me, the whole experience of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I don’t expect everyone to understand that, you just have to trust me on this one.

It will be even more special because, like  ‘Climb Against MS’ in 2016, it will be sponsored with the target to raise funds for MS Research and support with those who have been diagnosed with MS. For the latter, there are quite a few of us and we all need support in different ways. To be honest we could all do without the disease so that is where the research comes in. At the very least, some sort of control or the ultimate dream of a cure.

This needs money and so I would like to raise as much as possible.

That’s the altruistic reason. There is another, also very personal and with a slightly obscure inspiration: Strava, Facebook for people who wear lycra. I belong to several groups on this application, all of which have a weekly leaderboard showing who has ridden the most kilometres. In one of my groups I have been second for the last two weeks, not bad at all. What is even better? The guy in first place also has MS. I don’t know him but his title on Strava makes that pretty clear.

I would like to be first but there you go.

The big thing, for me. The top two in cycling group both have MS! That really struck me. Of course, I like it. To be completely honest, it gives me a lot of pride. It also reminds me that people with MS are very capable.

To be honest, it made me want to show off. Show what someone with MS can do. I am not the best cyclist in the world but I am not the worst. I’ve got pride in that. And I am good at plenty of other things. Cooking, being a pompous tw*t about wine, work, listening to music, even going to concerts. To be frank, I am far from incapable. Like a lot of people with MS.

We all have issues, though, that mean life is not normal. I have my ‘brick wall days, an increasing ability to forget what I am talking about mid-sentence, not to mention the odd problems with getting the words out of my mouth of my mouth in the first place. Concentration is difficult but I am thankful that the physical issues are limited. Tingling on the right side, a slight and not-very-noticeable limp and that odd feeling that someone is hugging me all day.

That’s where amazing support helps. Little tricks like the magic 30 minute sleep or making crazy use of notes, prompts, so I don’t forget what the hell I am talking about. Swinging my arms more to help counter the limp – ‘Walk like John Travolta’ was the way the physiotherapist put it. Amazing support that I am lucky to have. All people with MS should have the same.

Still, the support cannot stop everything nd I just hope one of the ‘brick wall’ days does not happen on April 21st, 2018, the day of the big ride. To stop them happening is a motivation. To stop the symptoms I have from getting worse is a motivation. Support for all with MS is a motivation.  The dream is a cure. And that needs money. To raise funds and to show what people with MS can do are the two powerful motivators for me to ride a bike in Belgium. Very powerful motivations.

Let’s not we get too pure, though. There are base motivations. I would like to do some parts of Liege-Bastogne-Liege quicker than last year. And perhaps quicker than the other cyclists around me. Perhaps show off a little. A little demon in me loved a spurt of overtaking on some the climbs last year. Take that, able-bodied cyclist!

Sorry. I apologise. But I am that human.

The Liege-Bastogne-Liege Challenge will take place on April 21st, 2018. The next day the professionals will ride the same course. I will be riding the 153 kilometre version involving 2,700 m of climbing. 

Sponsorship page can be found here. You don’t have to sponsor me….. but it would be nice if you did! 

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