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Woman who completed London Marathon in 'bionic' suit plans London to Paris bike ride

Claire Lomas, paralysed in horse-riding accident five years ago, plans new challenge

Claire Lomas, the woman who earlier this month captured national headlines when she completed the Virgin London Marathon after 16 days with the aid of a bionic suit, is already planning her next challenge – a bike ride from London to Paris.

The 32-year-old former eventer from Leicestershire was left paralysed from the neck down after breaking her neck, back and ribs in a fall while taking part in the Osberton Horse Trials in 2007.

A fortnight ago, a crowd of wellwishers cheered her on as she completed the London Marathon course more than two weeks after starting, raising more than £200,000 for Spinal Research in the process.

London Marathon rules state that competitors must complete the 26.2-mile course on the day of the race, so Mrs Lomas does not appear in the official results and was not eligible for a medal – although there was no shortage of other runners willing to give her the ones they had been awarded.

Now she has revealed that she is in talks with a bike manufacturer to build her a bicycle that can be powered using her arms and legs for the 250-mile ride from the British capital to the French one, reports the BBC.

Mrs Lomas said that she wasn’t sure whether the bike she would need to undertake the challenge existed as yet, but envisaged that the design would be based on the static bike she already uses to exercise.

"I've always trained on this bike, an FES bike, which stands for functional electrical stimulation,” she explained.

"It's basically pads on my legs which make my legs work. It sends a signal and makes my muscles contract and make the pedalling motion.

"It's still as hard as anyone else pedalling, it just it doesn't go via my spinal cord, the signal goes straight to my muscle.”

Mrs Lomas is working on building up the strength in her legs, but would also like to have the option of using her arms.

"Although I will have a long time to get my legs really, really strong, it will be good to mix both up, to help me get all that way.

"I've been in touch with the biking firm, and I'm hoping they'll support me with the challenge and provide a bike."

Speaking of the incident that led to her being paralysed, Mrs Lomas said, "Spinal injuries happen in a second, it could be anyone.

"You're fit and everything at the time of the accident, then suddenly your life changes, but what doesn't change is your personality."

Since suffering those horrific injuries, Mrs Lomas has become a mother – her daughter Maisie is 13 months old, and accompanied her on the London Marathon course with other members of the family.

Mrs Lomas aims to continue raising money for Spinal Research, including through her planned London to Paris ride.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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notfastenough | 3727 posts | 11 years ago

Impressive woman. This did make me think about how everything depends on the spine, and how said spine is not protected on the bike.

OldRidgeback | 4483 posts | 11 years ago

She's an inspiration.

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