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Jonny with bike
by Dr Jonathan White 01 May 2024

From Bushmills to Brighton: Dr Jonathan White’s 600 mile cycle

In May, our very own Overcoming MS facilitator and medical advisor, Dr Jonathan White, will be marking his 40th birthday and the 9th year since his MS diagnosis by undertaking the challenge of a lifetime. He is cycling 600 miles from Bushmills (Northern Ireland) to Brighton to raise money for Overcoming MS! Ahead of his cycle, we spoke to him about what led him to take on this challenge.

Why I chose to take on this challenge

It’s hard to put into words what Overcoming MS means to me. In the darkest of times, it was a beacon of real hope and the path for me to follow. George Jelinek’s work showed me that I had a choice, to make a very real difference in how this condition would affect me, and give the very best odds of living a full and healthy life with MS. That was almost 9 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. I am fitter, healthier and happier than I ever was before MS. But that isn’t to say that life with MS is always easy, because it’s not. I still have symptoms to deal with and have to manage my condition carefully to stay well for myself and my family.

This charity is so much more than a programme based on scientific evidence in lifestyle medicine. It is a vibrant worldwide community, and it has given me my tribe and some of my dearest friends. I have been very fortunate to be involved in many Overcoming MS events now, and every time, a room full of strangers forms a life-long bond based on understanding, love and respect. No one has to explain or justify themselves. Instead, there is a safe space for people to learn from and support one another. This is something to be cherished and celebrated.

I want to prove to myself and our community that a completely average 40-year-old, living with MS for the best part of a decade, can challenge himself physically and mentally, and achieve something just a little bit special.

Man on a bike with blue cycling top on with a child each side in green cycling outfits.

Jonny and his sons in their Brighton cycling kits.

The 600 mile cycle journey

On Thursday 9th May, my cousin Stuart and I are planning to set off from my hometown of Bushmills on the north coast of Ireland, and over 10 days cycle 600 miles to Brighton.

Assuming we get there, we are going to deliver a bottle of the amber nectar that is Bushmills Whiskey to Overcoming MS President and Founder, Linda Bloom at the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club stadium on Saturday 18th May. We might even have a little tipple to celebrate!

Follow Jonny & Stuart’s route by clicking here!

Jonny and Stuart standing next to each other in blue Brighton football club tops.

Stuart (left) and Jonny (right)

Managing my MS throughout the challenge

I’ve been training hard, but I have no way to simulate the cumulative effects of the 10-day ride, and with an unpredictable condition like MS, this does worry me.

If MS fatigue kicks in or my dizziness and balance issues ramp up, then cycling 600 miles is going to be really difficult. I will have to be very careful about conserving my energy, resting when I can, ensuring I am fuelling properly (which is a challenge in itself with a diet that tries to avoid processed foods) and keeping hydrated.  

I plan on living by the mantra ‘ride, eat, sleep, repeat’.  Stuart and I are really lucky though. We have a great support team to guide us, feed us and take our kit from place to place, so we can just focus on turning the pedals.

Jonny on bike

Jonny training for his 600-mile cycle

Why I chose to finish at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club

I started supporting Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club (BHAFC) about 5 years ago, after meeting Overcoming MS Trustee and BHAFC Chair, Tony [Bloom]. I learned the story of how he came from Brighton, loved the club as a child, his family connection there, [which caused him to] support them to rebuild and develop from almost ruin, and that great community connection from the city to the club.

In a league where so many clubs are being bought by consortiums and foreign investors, it is wonderful to see that passion and personal commitment from a local boy. Having been to the AMEX a few times now, I think the warm and welcoming family atmosphere is fantastic, and of course, they play the best football too! My two boys are now the biggest (and possibly only) fans in Northern Ireland!

Two men with dark hair standing behind bikes wearing blue, white and orange cycling clothes.

Jonny (left) and Stuart (right) with their bikes

How to support Jonny

Jonny hopes to raise £15,000 for Overcoming MS so we can give hope to more people with MS and help them to live well with the condition. Help him reach his target and give him your support with a personal message here.

If you want to help celebrate this momentous challenge, we are inviting our community members who are local to Brighton to greet Jonny at the finish line on the day. Contact the Fundraising team for details.

Feeling inspired? Why not take on your own challenge!

Feeling inspired by Jonny and Stuart? Choose your challenge and join #TeamOvercomingMS as we take on the 300 Challenge this June!

Find out more and join the 300 Challenge here.