A keen cyclist is taking on a Lands End to John O’Groats cycle ride to raise money for a little-known medical condition.
Malcolm Rawlins, 61, from Horsham, and Dean Wallace, from Leighton Buzzard, is due to set out from Land’s End on Saturday September 6 morning.
Malcolm told the County Times that he is raising money for Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT), a degenerative neurological condition which he has.
“I have always been a bit clumsy, not a good athlete, and rather noisy when I walk (flappy footed),” he said.
“In my early 50s I realised there was something not right as my hands were becoming weak and the fingers clawed.
“I also realised that I could no longer raise my weight onto my toes. I was very fortunate that my GP has neurological training and spotted the CMT characteristics immediately when I described my symptoms.
“I had a genetic test done and was found to have CMT type 1a, the most common form. I’m sure I inherited CMT from my father, who was never diagnosed with the disease, but had similar symptoms.
“He died in his 60s, after a massive stroke in his 50s, and his previous difficult walking gait and other problems were put down to lack of fitness and his type 2 diabetes by the doctors at that time.
“Knowing I have the disease, and that it is incurable, has made me determined to fight back against it as hard as I can. Like most CMTers, as we call ourselves, I have very poor balance and find walking awkward and tiring. Surprisingly maybe, I can still ski. The boots give me the support my lower leg muscles lack, and my thigh and core muscles do the rest. Similarly I have found that I can still cycle quite well, again this is a case of using thigh and core muscles to overcome weakness elsewhere.
“I have mostly been a mountain biker in the past and have ridden the South Downs Way, numerous off-road trails across the South of England and also the Way of the Roses coast to coast route from Morecambe to Bridlington.”
Malcolm said it was Dean who came up with the idea of the ride, and was looking for someone to keep him company on the way.
“I jumped at the chance, metaphorically speaking,” he said, “as jumping is not within my ability these days.
“We’ve been planning the ride for several months, have a total of 15 B&Bs booked at roughly 75 mile intervals and the trains to Penzance and back from Thurso booked, with cycle reservations which are essential, particularly on the Scottish trains.
“I’m very much looking forward to the ride. I know I can easily cycle 75 miles in a day, and have recently been doing long rides back to back to get used to riding on consecutive days.
“My main concern is the over 8,000 feet of ascent we’ll be facing on some of the days. There is around 69,000 feet of ascent over the whole 1000 miles our route will cover, taking the longer, but safer, B road option wherever possible.
“A number of friends and relatives are going to meet up with us along the way, and a few of our cycling buddies are going to do odd days with us to keep us company.”
To sponsor Malcolm, visit his fundraising page at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MalcolmRawlins
For more information about the charity he is supporting, visit: http://www.cmt.org.uk/