Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Epilepsy Action Cycling Hero



French Village Diaries Epilepsy Action cycling hero
Epilepsy Action Hero

We have reached July. A month dedicated to cycling, well for us anyway. 

French Village Diaries Tour de France
My Tour de France yellow jersey

The Tour de France has begun, I’ve dug out my yellow T-shirt and our evenings are spent glued to the TV where the familiar faces of Gary Imlach, Chris Boardman, Ned Boulting and David Millar relay the day’s events; their words as entertaining as they are informative. We shouted ‘YES’ in unison as Mark Cavendish crossed the line on day 1 to take the yellow jersey for the first time, despite nearly 30 stage wins in the Tour over the last ten years. We’ve toured Normandy, the Loire, Poitou-Charentes and the Limousin (or should that be Nouvelle Aquitaine?) with them, many places we have visited with our bikes in recent years and we are looking forward to the action and stunning scenery to come in the mountain stages. It is a moment of normality and excitement in what are otherwise dark and stressful days following the Brexit referendum.


French Village Diaries Tour des Deux Sevres
Cycle themed decorations

Next week our neighbouring village will host the arrival of the final day of the Tour des Deux Sèvres. Not quite in the same league as the Tour de France, but that hasn’t stopped them erecting cycle themed decorations in the village, or organising a day of celebrations and entertainments. We will be there, getting our fix of live cycling action, as this year I’m not sure we will make it to any of the Tour de France stages.

Adrian has been spending as much time as possible training for his Prudential Ride London Surrey 100 event on 31st July. Cycling 160km (100miles) in one day is rather daunting and hasn’t been easy to train for, as time and weather have been against him. He did manage an 80km ride last weekend at 28km/h with no stops. He left after morning coffee and returned for a late lunch, feeling (justifiably) pleased with his performance. He will be increasing his training rides to 100km and 120km once he is back from working in UK, but it is unlikely he will have time to attempt 160km before the day itself. We are also planning a 100km ride together (at a much slower pace) as part of the Rapha Women's 100 on 17th July. This will be my last big ride for a few weeks, as a small gynea op will keep me off my bike for a while.


French Village Diaries Ardechoise cycling
Adrian at the Ardechoise event

A real boost to Adrian’s confidence came from our trip to the Ardeche at the end of June. Here he completed an 85km cycling event in three hours 45 minutes and got a real taste for climbing proper hills and riding in a large group event. He loved it, his pre-event nerves were soon replaced with excitement and adrenalin, and each update I received from him was more animated. His only regret was signing up for the 85km rather than the 125km event, but he is already making plans for next year. I was really proud of him and thought he looked pretty damned good in his Ardechoise jersey. See here for a full update on the Ardechoise.


French Village Diaries Epilepsy Action cycling hero
Epilepsy Action Hero

He is getting quite a collection of cycling jerseys this summer as his Epilepsy Action Hero jersey has arrived for the Prudential Ride London Surrey 100. Epilepsy is a difficult condition to live with. It may not show itself very often (if you are lucky like me) but it is always there, lurking in the background. I can’t forget about it, go out without my sunglasses on, or overdo things in the garden, as that is when it will strike. When it does, it’s not pleasant. It’s scary for those around who find you flat out and unresponsive. It’s exhausting and painful for me, every muscle spasms, then aches for days, the bruises where I hit the deck and the bite marks in my mouth, I could go on. I do know I am very lucky to have an amazing husband, who I trust with my life and he truly is my Epilepsy Action hero. Not only has he had to pick me up (literally) after a seizure, but his strong arms have held me tight when the visual wobbles have reared up and despite us both feeling my body twitching, he kept a full seizure away.

In the UK alone 600,000 people suffer from epilepsy and Epilepsy Action are there to help them and their families, providing support in person and online. I understand more about my epilepsy now than I did when it struck at 17 as there is so much more information available on the internet. If you want to know more about the work Epilepsy Action do you can visit their website here.

Adrian is fit (the French health service has confirmed) and has quite a few kilometres under his belt, but this event will still be a challenge and the longest day on the bike he has ever done. If you would like to help by virtually cheering him on, please donate to his Just Giving Page. Every small amount will help make a difference to the lives of people living with epilepsy, please click here. We are very close to raising £500 and would love to reach that target.

£10 could give 50 people information about first aid for seizures – helping people with epilepsy be safe in public.
£20 could equip a new volunteer with resources to raise awareness of epilepsy in their local community.
£30 could help the Epilepsy Action experts support five people newly diagnosed with epilepsy, providing one-to-one advice when it’s needed most.

Thank you.

May the wheels of our bikes continue to turn, even if the wheels of politics seem to have buckled.