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North Coast 500 cycle challenge completed by eye condition sufferer who reveals compensations of tough ride in plucky effort for Nystagmus Network


By Neil MacPhail

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Sam Jones celebrates at Inverness Castle.
Sam Jones celebrates at Inverness Castle.

Cycling the North Coast 500 route in eight days is a pretty hefty challenge under the best of conditions.

But pedalling the twisting, undulating and at times single-track and potholed road with a visual impairment takes some bravery.

And Sam Jones did it – riding the route to raise funds for the Nystagmus Network, the charity founded by his mother Vivien after he was diagnosed with the condition 36 years ago as a baby.

The Nystagmus Network is a registered charity supporting people living with nystagmus, which is a form of vision impairment characterised by uncontrollable eye movements.

The condition compromises the ability to focus, recognise faces and perceive the world in three dimensions.

“The ride was not easy with some brutal climbs and horrendous headwinds, but the spectacular scenery compensated. I recovered most nights with burgers and a few pints."

So navigating the roads at speed on a bike presented a very real challenge for Mr Jones.

He was supported by Nystagmus Network chairman Tim Cuddeford, who drove a support vehicle, and a friend who cycled alongside him for the first few days.

Mr Jones said: “I was a bit concerned when Bill left, but with the map and computer on the handlebars it was a cinch.

“The ride was not easy with some brutal climbs and horrendous headwinds, but the spectacular scenery compensated. I recovered most nights with burgers and a few pints.

“It was great to reach Inverness again, as it was definitely the most challenging fundraiser I have undertaken.”

There is currently no effective treatment for nystagmus. At least one in 1000 people have the condition.

The Nystagmus Network relies on fundraising, membership subscriptions, donations and gifts in wills to enable it to provide support, fund research and raise awareness.


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