The Wokingham Paper

Zebra Natalie completes epic 5,000-mile ride round Britain’s coastline

DAY  th April

 

WHEN Natalie Wilson decided to tackle a new sporting record she got on her bike.

The 29-year old from Wokingham has just completed a grueling 5,000 mile cycle around Britain’s coastline.

She is the first disabled female to complete the route on a tricycle in just 98 days.

That’s despite the fact that even a slight road bump could cause her bones to dislocate.

Arriving back in the borough on Friday evening – with the finish line being The Two Poplars pub on Finchampstead Road – a beaming Natalie said it was fantastic to be home: “Now I just want to have a bath and put my head on a soft pillow.”

Natalie suffers from a rare condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which makes her tire easy, as well as bowl, bladder and blood pressure conditions.

She has endured numerous operations over the years and even had to have a painful tooth extraction during her marathon cycle.

However, she is delighted to have raised the profile of EDS as well as sponsorship to help others with the same condition.

“The toughest part of the route was cycling up the steep coastal gradients in Devon and Cornwall in the snow,” she said.

“I never planned for the Beast from the East and it got really tough. One day the temperature dropped to -8ºC.

“When I was struggling I started making comparisons in my head and realised that what I was doing was much easier and less painful than when I had brain surgery and much easier than some others everyday lives.”

Natalie completed the journey unsupported which meant not only carrying heavy camping equipment but also extra food and water when travelling through remote parts of the Scottish Highlands.

“I was scared of being so remote and so far away from help at first but it gave me such a confidence boost that I could cope on my own,” she added.

“I wanted to travel this part of the coastline before it got too busy with tourists and before the dreaded midgie season.

“I never realised such beauty existed. It was barren in parts but tranquil and you really felt at one with nature and the beaches were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.”

Halfway through her journey, she suffered severe tooth pain which meant surgery at a hospital in Newcastle.

But the woman, who just five years ago had to wear a permanent neck brace, was determined to complete the route she started in February.

She began by cycling 85 miles to Brighton where she completed the town’s Half Marathon before starting on her round Britain route.

“This journey has been very tough but incredible. I took it on to raise awareness of EDS.

“I have made hundreds of new friends all with their own inspiring stories and had local communities rally round to help 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.”

And she has also had backing and support from friends at the Wokingham Cycling Club (WCC).

She said: “I joined the Cycling Club when I moved here and they have been a fantastic club to ride with. They have been completely inclusive and never judge me for riding a different bike.

“WCC is a great place for local cyclists to go and ride with friendly, likeminded people who love cycling!”

To donate to Natalie’s fundraiser and to read more about her cycle, log on to: www.zebraonabike.co.uk

 

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