I had numerous accidents during my racing career and as a result, now suffer from Osteo-Arthritis. Although not life threatening, arthritis is a troublesome problem causing pain and restricting mobility. By the summer of 2004, walking was causing me great discomfort and just standing for only a short while was becoming difficult.
But I am not one to sit around and do nothing. It all started when my long suffering wife Yvonne and I went to a 'Brocante' (bric-a-brac sale) not far from our home in France where I saw a racing cycle for sale. It seemed daft at the time, but I bought the thing on impulse, mainly because I love tinkering. I started to fettle the bike and get it sorted…more or less.
Being only 1.60 metres means that the frame size is fairly critical, and I thought that I was somewhere right in the sizing. How wrong can you be.... I got the bike near to what I thought was ready to ride, until an acquaintance brought me down to earth with a bump. His opening words were: "The frame is far too big for you, and what on earth is all the oil doing on the chain?"
Within minutes the degrease fluid was out and the whole bike was striped of its excess oil. Inside leg measurements followed, various dimensions were altered and I found myself sitting on a totally changed bike. What a difference! Tony told me to go for a ride up the lane on his own, very expensive racing bike. it was just like getting out of a Morris Minor and stepping into a Ferrari. But for the time being, my revamped cycle would have to do.
Tony agreed to accompany me on a training ride and evaluate my performance and ability, and make sure that I was in some way capable of riding a bike for the sole reason of helping me with my joint mobility. A couple of weeks getting into the rhythm of riding a bike with my head down and my backside in the air seemed hardly the position for an arthritic back, but from the racing days, I had been used to this position for years. Although there was a lot of stiffness in the spine, it didn't prove too uncomfortable.
After a couple of weeks, I went out with Tony and his wife Helen for a gentle training ride and ended up doing over 60km. I enjoyed every minute of it. I was a bit sore for a couple of days but the die was cast and I haven't stopped riding since.
But Tony had a bombshell up his sleeve. Late September 2004, he asked me to go over earlier than planned for our ride, as he wanted to show me something. In the cycle workshop he showed me a time trail bike with a Paul Donohue frame of light aluminium. Then he invited me use the frame as he thought I had enough dedication for riding and 'it was obvious that I needed a frame of the right size to make life easier'.
I bought wheels, levers and other running parts from Tony and local suppliers and he fettled the frame for me.
I now ride almost every day, and at weekends, am holding my own with the French road racers, even picking up the odd award. As far as the arthritis is concerned, its still there - but it no longer rules my life. I have got my mobility back and I am a much fitter and healthier person.
Now I want to use this event to raise as much money as I possibly can for the Arthritis research Campaign Charity. So please go to the Sponsor page and give your support.
Meanwhile…..thank you Tony - for everything.
Copyright © 2015 Maurice Carroll
cycling in France|arthritis|cycle ride|road racing|joint pains|cycle routes in france