My other half and I have tried to get into the RideLondon 100 mile cycle event for years, long before my diagnosis - he got bored of signing up for the ballot, at which point fate decided to give me a space!
These mass events are special and the atmosphere of taking part is amazing. It didn't feel right to just go and do it, so I decided to raise money for OMS in the preparation.
Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis threw quite a spanner in my plan of life at the time. Finding OMS gave me hope and positivity that I could make changes to the lifestyle I was leading for a better health outcome.
People are often surprised to hear that I have MS and the invisibility of this condition has been at times difficult for others to comprehend.
These days I feel a lot more open to talk about my condition, but it's taken me years... now I shout about it to anyone who will listen and I encourage everyone to do the same!
It is hugely liberating to talk and it enables me to concentrate on what really matters - getting better, rather than hiding the fact that I have MS.
I like to wear my OMS running vest whenever I can to engage with people and share how the organisational support and 7-step programme of OMS can help us to stay sane and motivated whilst being diagnosed with an incurable disease. The vest is a regular staple on my weekly parkruns, especially when touring in areas I haven't been before.
The problem was OMS didn't have a cycle jersey - mmmh what could I do?
I engaged with a number of companies who weren't really interested in creating a one-off cycle jersey for me and the funds weren't available to set up the minimum order required.
Then I came across thecyclejersey company following a recommendation from our local cycle shop. And we clicked - it turned out that they were very interested to help us and even offered to donate money for every single OMS cycle jersey being sold in the future.
This means that 10% of all sales will go to OMS!
I shared with them the ideas I had for the design based on the existing OMS running vest and my own cycle jerseys - they were brilliant and I sported the first ever OMS cycle jersey when completing the 100 mile Prudential RideLondon event this year!
It must have given me wings, as I cycled the furthest and quickest I have ever cycled before, completing the full course in an official time of 06:06:38. I had an amazing time and was able to raise a respectable amount for OMS (it is not too late to donate, please see link below).
What made me really happy and excited though was that anyone with MS, a family member or friend of someone with MS will now be able to buy and sport their own OMS cycle jersey with pride and in the knowledge that part of the jersey cost will have benefited this great charity.
Today I feel relieved that I am no longer scared to share that I have MS and I am happier and healthier than I have ever been. OMS has made me that strong person, someone who is happy to talk about MS and how we can all help ourselves and each other to get better and stay well.
I hope the cycle jersey will get people talking when out on their bikes... and proudly show what we can all achieve, regardless of MS.
May you all be well and please say hello if you see me out on the trails - I will be the one in the OMS cycle jersey!
- To buy your own OMS cycle jersey
- To sponsor me for my RideLondon
- Read Claudia's previous blog post “A healthier body leads to a healthier and stronger mind!”