Huge congratulations to Natalie Wilson who is set to arrive in Brighton tomorrow to complete a staggering cycle challenge.
Natalie Wilson's epic challenge to cycle the coastline of Great Britain on her recumbent trike finishes at the end of this week.
Natalie, the `zebra on a bike` who suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), started her journey on February 24 from her home in Wokingham, Berkshire, having cycled 85 miles to Brighton, she then completed the Brighton Half Marathon before circumnavigating the entire coastline. Natalie will return back in Brighton at 5pm tomorrow and will then cycle back to Wokingham on Friday.
It has not been an easy challenge; Natalie had to face ‘The Beast from the East’ in early March where the roads in the South West were covered in snow drifts and ice. She had a serious mechanical problem with her trike in remote northern Scotland, and a tooth extraction led to a visit to the operating theatre in Newcastle. Natalie has shown true grit and determination in overcoming every obstacle and always maintained her positivity throughout.
Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is a genetic connective tissue disorder, Natalie’s joints can dislocate, she has had brain surgery and has a lot of problems with her stomach, bladder, bowel, heart rate and blood pressure. Five years ago Natalie was wearing a permanent neck brace and was very disabled. Cycling has strengthened her muscles enough to help support the connective tissue.
Cycling has given Natalie an independent life, and Natalie will tell you that it really saddens her when she sees people with similar conditions that have given up on an active life. Cycling a trike, and with the many adaptions available, provides an opportunity for people to experience freedom, and she knows how exhilarating it is getting yourself out into the countryside under your own steam.
“This journey has been very tough but incredible," Natlie said. "I took it on to raise awareness of EDS and I’ve encouraged everyone and anyone to join and host me the whole way round. I have made hundreds of new friends, all with their own inspiring stories; local communities have rallied round and helped me when I have had problems.
“There is a part of me that wants to cycle the whole route again just to spend time with all the people I have met. There are actually very few people whom have seen the entirety of our British Coastline, its beauty, its uniqueness and its people and I feel truly privileged to have been able to push my imperfect body and have this wonderful experience.”
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CHALLENGE
What has been your favourite part of the coastline?
The North and West Coast of Scotland, I was there out of tourist season and I never realised such beauty existed, it was barren in parts but tranquil and you really felt at one with nature, the beaches were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! I also cycled round a few of the islands; Mull, Skye and Mainland Orkney all of which had their own personalities and differing landscapes, definitely places I would go back to.
What was the toughest part of the journey?
Cycling up the steep coastal 25% gradients in Devon and Cornwall in the snow, one day the temperature dropped to -8 degrees Celsius.
Have you seen much wildlife?
Yes, the nature of cycling means that you travel slower and don’t disturb the wildlife. In particular I’ve seen Red Squirrels in Wales and Scotland, Golden Eagles in Galloway, Sea Eagles on Mull, Red Deer and Stags, lots of Seals and numerous species of birds I’ve never come across before.
What are you most looking forward to about reaching home?
I am definitely most looking forward to having a bath and putting my head on my pillow.
Do you have any other challenges lined up?
I am always on my ICE Trike and always cycling, instead of undertaking more personal challenges I want to help others have similar experiences that I have had.
As well as raising awareness Natalie is very passionate about raising money for the charity that she volunteers for that supports others with EDS - Ehlers Danlos Support UK.
To find out more about her challenge and donate: www.zebraonabike.co.uk