3rd – 12th November 2011
Just hours to go (and counting) before a gruelling, 250 mile cycle ride over six days, through rural Rajasthan, north-west India. 250 miles that is, as the crow flies; thus avoiding dust, dips, hills, traffic and mosquitoes.
Vaccinations needed, including Rabies – not that it will prevent Rabies, but it will give you longer in the window of opportunity for the local medics to get the proper stuff in you. Don’t get scratched, let alone bitten by an animal. And avoid the insects. Some hope!
So what brings on this musing? A challenge issued by the chairman of a local “self-help” group running a therapy centre for sufferers of multiple sclerosis. This is a disease that can reduce the powerful and independent to helpless and utterly dependent individuals. No cure as yet, but the team and support at the centre in Canterbury provide a lively atmosphere of hope and of help. The mixture is of physiotherapy and medication that may not always be available on the NHS.

There is also social interaction. The society of sufferers can be a powerful tonic, it can inspire newly diagnosed sufferers to see veterans still mobile or in remission, and still positive about life. There is nothing quite like being part of a group, even if it is not normally your thing.

Which brings me back to the 250 miles, I shall not be doing this alone, nor even just with family (my elder son is cycling with me) but with about 20 others, some of whom did a similarly mad trip in the Jordanian desert two years ago.

The chairman of the “self-help” group (sorry Tony) will be leading us from the rear again, camera in hand no doubt, brushing up on his after-dinner speech sound-bites to go with the truly fantastic, and I mean just amazing, just incredibly how-can-it-be-that-I-am-here, on tarmac, alone on the desert road in Jordan! Except for that speck over there in front, and the one over there behind – both of which I know are cyclists whom I will catch, or will catch me, before the evening and comatose rest overnight in the tent (lean-to – good job it was dry) scenes (sorry, but the scenery was just – well, go and see).

Meanwhile I was cycling. Suffering. Woken early. Striving. Hills and Heat. Ah, I remember that now. And I realise that I am in no way prepared for this next Challenge. 3 days and counting down. I need to believe that tomorrow I will be at least as strong as I am today, and that there is a chance I will be stronger the next day, so that I can get through the crisis that will be coming. The group will help me through. Is this how it is with MS?

Please support the group. www.kentmstc.co.uk Please sponsor me through Virgin Money Giving, Cycle Challenge for Kent MS Therapy Centre.
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AnnMatthews

or
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilipMatthews

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