As anyone who knows me will attest, I like to make a bit of a fuss about my birthday. I mean, I’m going to be a year older whether I like it or not, so why not go out and celebrate it? Most years I start planning what I’m going to do to months in advance.
In some respects this year is no different. Though it’s still two months until my birthday I know exactly what I’m going to be doing. The difference is that this year I won’t be celebrating. No going to the pub, no party, no dinner. No cider, even.
Nope. This year I’ll be cycling 100km around the streets of London at night, all in the name of charidee – in the name of the MS Society, to be precise.
I’ve been thinking about doing a charity challenge for quite a while. I knew it had to be cycling, because, frankly it’s the only sporty thing I do: I’m hardly going to take up running and do the London marathon, am I?
I toyed with the idea of doing Land’s End to John O’Groats, but baulked when I realised just how far it is and how many hours in the saddle it would take. It’s a giant step from a 20-mile daily round trip commute to over 800 miles in nine days – a step I’m not quite ready for.
So I started looking for something a tad less challenging; something that would ease me into long distance cycling. This was when I chanced upon the Nightrider. At a mere 100km in one night, it’s infinitely more do-able. After all, that’s only three times my normal daily commute. I can do that, right?
Right. If it weren’t at night, then it wouldn’t be a problem. But it is at night: it starts at around 11pm and finishes sometime around 7am. Once upon a time that would have been fine, but I’m getting on a bit now and I need my sleep. Simply staying awake all night is going to be a challenge in itself: combine that with cycling, and, well…I’m starting to wonder why I thought this would be a good idea.
So why is it a good idea? Why am I putting myself through this in the name of the MS Society?
I could tell you all about how there are around 100,000 people in the UK living with the uncertainty of multiple sclerosis. I could tell you about how it’s usually diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s. I could tell you about how there’s no cure: once someone has it they have it for life.
But the actual answer is because I work for the MS Society.
Almost every day I speak to people with multiple sclerosis, or their friends or family, about MS and how it affects them. As part of the Information team, I do my best to answer their questions. I’m often told that the information I’ve given them has been helpful – or they appreciate talking to someone who understands what they’re dealing with.
But sometimes they ask me questions that I don’t have the answer to. Things like: When are you going to find a cure? Why aren’t there any treatments for progressive MS? Why do I have to go for yet another benefit assessment to prove I’ve still got MS? Don’t they realise I’d work if I could?
It’s for all those people I speak to, and their as-yet unanswerable questions, that I’m attempting to stay awake all night while simultaneously cycling around the streets of London.
So, in lieu of the opportunity to buy me a pint for my birthday, can I persuade you to buy MS a pint instead? Or a cocktail, or a glass of wine…or even, if you’re feeling generous, a whole bottle of wine?
Here’s the link: https://www.justgiving.com/Jude-Burke
Thanks for your support!