The Englishman Who Rode a Bike in BelgiumSteve Farmer
It has been four years since I was initially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. What was initially terrifying is now something that is part of my life. I can deal with it because I have exceptional medical support and am in an environment where the support from friends and colleagues gives me the space to make full use of the advice from that medical support. This means I can live life to the full whilst understanding that living life to the full also means that I have to make compromises.
Cycling is something that has become increasingly important to me since my diagnosis. It has helped me to stay fit and also helped me to cope personally with a condition that does not make itself easy to understand or predict. To combine something that I love with an action to raise funds for research into MS and support for those impacted by it is something that means a lot to me. In 2016 I took part in Klimmen Tegen MS, or Climb Against MS: Mont Ventoux, The Beast of Provence. And in 2018, it will be La Doyenne. The Old Lady. Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Kindly sounding nicknames and a slightly bland title. Behind these lays a ferocious challenge. The oldest of the Spring Classics, one day races that provide stern tests for the toughest professionals. They have their day the 22nd April. On the 21st, it is the turn of the amateurs to take on these mythical, grandiosely named climbs: Cote de la Roche-aux-Faucons, Col du Rosier. Col du Maquisard and the legendary Cote de La Redoute. Magical. That’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
I rode it last year and it was the toughest and finest day I have had on a bike. I want to experience it again and I want to keep experiencing days like it, because they help me maintain my self-confidence. I also want those who have been diagnosed with this disease to have the chance to experience such special days for themselves, taking on whatever challenge is special and personal to them. Of course, ideally, I would like us all to be cured and get rid of the uncertainty and confusion that we all have, but in the meantime I want everyone with MS to have the care that I have had.
That means money for research and money for support.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2017 was an intensely personal challenge. I can't explain how it felt, for once the words just don't seem to exist. It just meant a lot to know that I could complete it, climb La Redoute without stopping even though I have been diagnosed with MS. For 2018 it will still be just as personal but, with your help, I also want it to be something more.
Last year, it was for pride. This year, it is for the future.
(The event will take place on 21st April and I will be riding the 153km version, not the 250km version - I am not that crazy!).
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