September 5th 2021
In October 2018, Club member Ted Reddick was suddenly paralysed from the neck down - having been struck by an extremely rare condition called Tranvserse Myelitis (TM). Ted’s spinal cord was compressed at a high level and irrepairable damage was done to numerous bodily actions and functions. After many months of gruelling (and expensive) neurological rehabilitation, Ted was able to walk again without support and even returned to the Club to hit the occasional tennis ball. It is thought that the extent of his particular ‘attack’ is as rare as greater than one in ten million, but his recovery has flown in the face of many other TM sufferers (now confined to wheelchairs).
Today Ted, on first appearance, looks relatively normal and fully recovered, but that’s far from the truth as he endures a multitude of problems on a continual basis. Ted’s recovery was compromised by the Covid crisis but has used the Club’s gym facilities to build strength and can be seen on the tennis courts most Monday and Wednesday evenings (he says he is the one not running!).
Cycling has been the major recovery medium for Ted (he was a reasonably successful road, time-trial and track racer in the 1980s and early ‘90s) and he is now planning to try to cycle up the 6,200ft Mont Ventoux in France during the week commencing 13th September. The ride has been planned to raise awareness of TM (which
can hit anybody at any time) as well as raise funds to assist other, driven, sufferers secure critical neurological rehabilitation and equipment. Without continual physical therapy a TM sufferer risks a life in a wheelchair and many make no recovery (usually through late or mis-diagnosis) and suffer high levels of fatigue and depression.
Challenge Diary - September 2021
Regretfully I have to advise that my attempt to climb the mountain non-stop yesterday failed after almost exactly 2 hours (my longest single ride since paralysis) and 13.67 miles, at an altitude of 4,818 ft - some 3.5 miles short of the summit.
Needless to say I was extremely disappointed, but it’s clear that it was the affects of my condition that caused me to stop as I was completely incapable of lifting myself out of the saddle to climb around a corner and, after stopping, I had to be caught by one of my support team and was unable to support my weight (collapsing and unable to walk for many hours). Things were that bad that we had to remove the saddle and seatpost from my bike, in order for it to be slid from underneath me to dismount!
Basically my legs ceased to function for a number of hours and my condition deteriorated to a level not dissimilar to that I endured during the early stages of my ‘recovery’ from paralysis. I am walking again today but still incapable of standing/sitting without support - a situation I encountered following a simulation of the ride some weeks ago.
It is clear that my general physical fitness is good, as my average heart rate for the climb was around 118 bpm, with TM being the ultimate cause of my failure to compete the challenge (which was, in any event, never meant to be easy!).
My original objective was to ride to the summit non-stop and obviously that has not happened but, as of today, I am thinking of recommencing the ride on Friday with a view of picking up from where I stopped and attempting to ride to the summit (undoubtedly the hardest section of the whole climb).
Challenge Diary - 17th September 2021
UPDATE (written whilst in great discomfort and unable to walk) I can advise that I attempted to complete the climb of Mont Ventoux on Friday 17th September, from the point where I effectively collapsed four days earlier. This entailed a 3.5 mile ride from a standing start at an average gradient approaching 10% (1 in 10).
Despite some minor residual issues from Monday’s ride - not least the fact that I could not mount or dismount my bike without assistance - and strong winds, I am pleased to advise that I did get to the summit (in around 35 minutes).
It was a stunning day and arriving at the top at around 9.15am saw myself, Nick and my two guides/support looking down on the cloud covering the lower slopes.
The last kilometre was extremely testing, as the effect of the gradient was worsened by having to ride a section directly into a, circa, 20 mph headwind. My accompanying rider literally threw his bike onto the side of the road and ran alongside me to ensure that I could be caught/assisted if the effects of TM took over but (despite some pretty loud vocal expressions of discomfort) I managed to clear the penultimate bend before things started to ease slightly before the top.
This proved categorically that Monday’s problems were not caused by anything other than the effects of TM and I actually climbed to the top in a gear far higher than a majority of riders we encountered on both days (the majority of whom also stopped a number of times). I cannot say it was easy but I rested completely on Tuesday and Thursday in order to both recover and prepare for the Friday attempt and had an unforgettable 28 mile on the Wednesday to test how I was, two days after the initial problems arose.
The range of emotions over the last week has been extensive, but I hope that all who supported me (now over £31,000) will be able to honour their pledges given that I did succeed in my goal - despite some pretty serious issues arising during the first attempt. The photo’s below will hopefully emphasise the scale of what I manged to achieve and, again, many thanks for your support.
Challenge TM update May 2022
In the end my attempt to cycle up Ventoux last September received pledges totalling £32,326 which (despite one developer and two private supporters not paying up) has all been banked. The failed pledges have been made up by company and me personally and the fact that I ended up with 21 corporate and 59 private supporters was pretty humbling.
It’s not been that easy to commit the funds for their intended purpose due, primarily, to the rarity of my condition. I have however been able to assist a community nurse in Essex return to work after some intensive physiotherapy and have today agreed to support a 33 year old lady from Hertfordshire in some critical rehab following a relapse in her condition. I have also recently met a wheelchair bound chap in Norfolk who has been seriously let down by his local hospital and it may be possible for me to assist him get some level of independence back. I don’t doubt that at some point I will be made aware of a case of TM that is newly diagnosed and severe so there is no great rush to commit the funds – although I do believe it’s not right to be asking support from the same people as last year when I have barely scraped the surface of what was so generously donated.
I am going back to Mont Ventoux in September this year with the absolute intention of riding to the top non-stop. After my collapse last year I simply cannot move on without trying again – this despite there being no significant improvement in my condition (although my weight will be lower!). The aim is to get the fund over £50,000 and I’m hoping support will be forthcoming from a few new companies that my business is working with this year. I am not planning a challenge next year due to the fact that I now need a replacement left knee (following the affects of the TM on my already damaged one) and that that is planned for after this year’s ride. I am also looking at going back to Japan next year to have the holiday I was denied when the TM hit back in 2018 (and I’m 60 next year so it has to be done!).
Head over to Ted's website to read more and show your support