After clearing the first rise after Chalet Reynard (after 13 miles of climbing to that point) and the subsequent bend (at around 15%/1 in 7 gradient) my legs simply could not turn. I was unable to lift myself out of the saddle and ultimately had no option other than to stop. My support team literally had to catch me and hold me upright as my legs collapsed underneath me.
I was incapable of walking for a few hours and lifting myself out of a chair (or sitting down generally) is still difficult as I type this (some 10 hours later).
To say I am gutted is an understatement!
The photo above shows me within sight of the summit and seconds before everything went wrong.
Thanks to my team from Mellow Jersey and their guides Alan and Martin without who I would be presently laying at the side of the road!
My name is Ted Reddick and I’m a 58 year old businessman from Lee-on-the-Solent in Hampshire, England. In 2018 I was hit by a rare neurological condition called Transverse Myelitis (otherwise referred to as TM), which left me paralysed from the neck down.
Up to the point of diagnosis I was fit and active; playing tennis, racquetball and squash regularly, as well as cycling extensively. Thanks to intensive and costly neurological rehabilitation and physiotherapy, my condition has improved considerably, although some aspects of life are seriously compromised by, possibly, irrecoverable damage.
Challenge-TM is my attempt to raise awareness of this rare and easily misdiagnosed condition. As you will read in my story, I was lucky that when I was struck down it happened to be in a place where the condition was recognised and treated quickly. Others may not be so lucky and without fast and effective help it can have serious long-lasting affects.
My aim is to create awareness — because with awareness comes research and more informed treatment plans – and to raise funds to help those unable to afford critical rehabilitation treatment.
My (failed) challenge for 2021 was to cycle up Mont Ventoux, in Provence, France; a 6,200 ft mountain climb made famous by the Tour de France. With the issues I face this was never going to be easy but I had hoped that succeeding would have enabled me to raise funds from within the business community and friends to help other sufferers.
In very basic terms the body’s autoimmune system attacks the spinal cord and causes lesions which affect functions in the body below the level of the lesion. Unfortunately my attack was severe and it initially caused full paralysis below my neck.
A more detailed explanation of the condition can be read here. More information on how the (UK based) TM Society can provide support and assistance to new and existing sufferers can be found on their website: www.myelitis.org.uk
Having spent many years (between 1981 and 1993) racing bicycles, it has remained one of my passions. The Covid-19 pandemic seriously interrupted my physiotherapy program (not least my inability to use a gym) and, as a result, I focused on cycling as the best form of exercise in order to increase and regain some of my leg strength as well as general all round fitness and upper body strengthening.
I lost 22lbs of muscle and a considerable amount of strength during the initial onset period and, despite over 30 months of recovery, I am still faced with a multitude of issues that are proven to worsen without almost daily activity and exercise.
With this in mind – and with a long-held desire to ride up some of the famous Grand Tour climbs – I chose to attempt to ride up Mont Ventoux in September 2021. The primary objective was to get to the top non-stop but unfortunately it was not to be, as the long terms effects of TM took it’s hold after 13 miles of climbing and 3 miles from the summit.
My objective financially was to raise at least £25,000, which would then have been used by Challenge-TM (a company set up specifically for this task) to distribute to those newly diagnosed with TM and who have the drive and desire to succeed in life or sport. Prior to the attempt I had received pledges of just under £31,000 and, following the ‘failure’ many requested that their pledges remain.
The recipients of any funds received must demonstrate a commitment to push themselves to enable the best possible recovery. I know it’s achievable as I’ve done it myself and I intend to maintain a mentoring and motivational role if deemed appropriate.
By working with companies such as Hobbs Rehabilitation and Wattbike we may well be able to provide assistance to those unable to access sufficient funds for critical rehabilitation therapy.
I plan to maintain a close involvement with those sufferers as I would hope that through my efforts to succeed that will help to drive others in the right direction.
Despite my Ventoux challenge failing I still intend to undertake something every year from hereon as I need something to help me focus on my own continued therapy as well as that of others.
As of August 2021 my exercise regime generally comprises of 4 days ‘on’ followed by a single day of rest – however this is heavily dependent on factors outside of my control (not least the massive fatigue and lethargy that TM can cause).
When I am at home I use a Wattbike Atom for at least one 1 hour session a week. This machine is essentially a static bicycle which measures a multitude of actions and inputs. It has proven to be invaluable, as I can measure my improvement through time. Using mountain and specific climbing programs has assisted me greatly in increasing my power output at a lower cadence (pedal revolutions) than I would normally use.
I combine the Wattbike with road cycling although (up to June 2021) I also incorporated one lengthy gym session every week (with an hour on weight equipment). Most of my road rides are presently ridden on one of my Colnago road bikes although in Norfolk I also use a less valuable Pinarello when the weather turns and, for the really bad weather (and the winter) a BMC Alpenchallenge belt driven hybrid complete with mudguards. As an ex racer I have retained many of my old racing bikes but the collection has also grown to 22 in total (many acquired following TM as a diversion).
I spend a lot of time at my girlfriend’s home in Norfolk where I road cycle almost every day. Balance and co-ordination issues make the quiet Norfolk lanes a lot safer than my local roads in Hampshire!
I play tennis twice a week with a group of guys with whom I have played doubles with for many years. Although I spent nearly a year away from playing they ensured that my space was retained but, naturally, things are a lot different now to what they used to be.
Image © Cycling Weekly
An article published in Cycling Weekly in March 2019.
Image © Cycling Weekly
An article published in Bike-Mag in July 2021.