Local cyclists Paul Rees and Adrian Small are in the middle of an epic cycling challenge, riding over 600 miles around Wales in just 7 days this June in support of the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association (South West Wales Branch), spurred on by thoughts of friend and fellow cyclist Martin Harsant who is living with MND.
Paul aged 54 from Llanelli and Adrian 46 from Penclawdd are well on their way to reaching their £5,000 fundraising target by completing a tough challenge “Wales in a Week”. They set off from Bynea Cycling Club Headquarters on Saturday 1st June, joined by over 40 local cyclists for the first leg of their journey.
On day 1, they were also joined on route by Olympic cyclist, Ciara Oliva who took time out of her busy schedule to ride through south-mid Wales. The ride has so far taken the duo to Chepstow, Newtown and Rhyl in some tough conditions and they’ll finish back at the Club on Friday 7th June.
As well as raising much needed funds for the MND Association’s South West Wales branch, it is hoped the ride will raise awareness of just how devastating MND is and gain support from cycling communities across Wales after friend and fellow cyclist Martin Harsant was sadly diagnosed two years ago.
Cycling has always been a huge part of Martin’s life since he first joined his local club, Port Talbot Wheelers in 1975 when he was just 13. After marrying Llanelli born Linda in 1982 (who is also from a cycling background), Martin then joined Bynea Cycling Club where he’s been a valuable member ever since.
In December 2016, aged 54 Martin started training to take on one of the World’s toughest bike rides - the gruelling “Marmotte sportive” in France (for a second time) but quickly noticed something wasn’t right.
Martin said, “After about a month of training I could sense that something was wrong, I didn’t have the same power in my legs as before. In the February I went in for tests and that was when I was told I had MND”.
Martin continued to cycle (with the aid of an electric bike) for as long as he could until unfortunately, the progressive nature of the disease meant Martin had to retire his bike.
Paul commented, “We are all devastated by Martin’s diagnosis but in dedication to his ability to remain strong, positive and good humored throughout his biggest challenge, we are completing this ride both on Martin’s bikes. As cyclists we have climbed some of the biggest mountains in France with Martin so there seemed no better way to raise money than a cycling challenge closer to home - taking in some of Wales’ great mountains!”
The MND Association is the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on improving access to care, research and campaigning for those people living with or affected by MND.
The local South West Wales branch have been a great source of support both financially and emotionally to Martin and his family and the money Paul and Adrian raise by completing “Wales in a Week” will help the charity continue its work.
Martin added, “We are so lucky to have great support from family and friends and the charity has been a big help to us. Cycling has always been a huge part of me and hopefully Paul and Adrian will raise a lot of money for the charity that will help others living with MND”.
MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease which affects the brain and spinal cord. It attacks the nerves that control movement and eventually leaves people unable to move, communicate or breathe. It kills a third of people within a year of diagnosis and half within two years. There is no cure.
To support Paul and Adrian’s fundraising efforts please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wales-in-a-week
For more information about MND and the MND Association please visit www.mndassociation.org
Complete route https://www.strava.com/routes/18073907
Day 1 https://www.strava.com/routes/17922647
Day 2 https://www.strava.com/routes/17922803
Day 3 https://www.strava.com/routes/17962653
Day 4 https://www.strava.com/routes/17962882
Day 5 https://www.strava.com/routes/17963242
Day 6 https://www.strava.com/routes/18071768
Day 7 https://www.strava.com/routes/18071987