Rich's life is a scary ride but he is ready for road ahead
DESIGNER Rich Tindale refuses to dwell on the risk that the next relapse of his incurable illness could leave him blind or facing life in a wheelchair.
He is so positive about living with multiple sclerosis that he has arranged a spin in the country on his bike.
But this is no ordinary ride – it involves pedalling a total of 400 miles to Belgium in just four days.
In fact, the 33-year-old is brushing aside the disease to lead 22 friends in the cycling marathon.
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The trip aims to raise £20,000 for five charities, including the MS Trust.
Rich, pictured left, has set up a huge reward for himself after crossing the finishing line in the town of Spa – the self-confessed Formula One fan has treated himself to tickets for the Belgium Grand Prix, which will be staged that weekend.
Far from being deterred from the task by his condition, it inspired Rich, of Sandon Road, Stafford, to get on with organising the event.
Rich was diagnosed with MS in 2007 and since then he has had two relapses – one temporarily paralysing his arm and the other taking away part of his sight.
He said: "That last one was in 2011 and the doctors say I could start to get them every two years.
"With MS, you never know what the next relapse will do to you and what is round the corner, so the thought that something very bad may happen next year focused me to get this event up and running as soon as possible.
"The year after being diagnosed, me and a friend, Si Campbell, cycled 300 miles from London to Paris to raise £5,000 for the MS Trust.
"Then my mum and dad, Cathy and Michael, put aside £1,000 for me to start off a second fund-raiser.
"That gesture, and the uncertainty about my future health, has given me the drive to arrange what we are calling the 'Ride2Spa'.
The group will set off from the home of the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, Buckinghamshire on August 27.
Rich is head of design at the Francesco hairdressing group.
Around £10,000 has already been pledged in sponsorship and despite his illness, Rich is currently training by spending 150 miles a week in the saddle.
Other charities to benefit will be Cancer Research, Mind, Ronald McDonald House (a respite unit in Birmingham) and Birmingham Children's Hospital, where Si's son Jasper has been treated for leukaemia.
Rich says the project is helping him stay positive. He added : "The doctors have told me such a frame of mind is really therapeutic when faced with such a devastating illness.
"I just hope what I am doing will help others realise that you can lead a normal life even with MS."
The first signs of Rich's illness were pins and needles in his legs.
Following an MRI scan, the disease was confirmed.
Rich said: "I was absolutely distraught and in a spin. I had visions of being in a wheelchair within weeks. A few days later, I lost the use of my left arm for several weeks because of the first relapse, although it then returned."
Rich was then referred to specialists at the neurology department of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, where he was put on Beta Interferon.
Since then, he has used a two-inch needle to inject the drug into his thigh at home every Thursday.
The medication soon stabilised the symptoms and has allowed him to continue working.
Rich's second relapse was in March last year, when he awoke and found he could not see his partner Kate Fox's head because of a huge blind-spot.
An MRI scan found scarring on the optical nerve. Three days of intensive steroid treatment at UHNS brought improvements. Although his right field of vision is still impaired his eyesight has still been ruled fit to drive.
Rich added: "There is currently no known cure for MS but the Avonex Beta-Inteferon seems to be delaying the progression of the degenerative disease resulting in only one relapse in the past five years.
"I know I may get another next year and don't know what it will bring. But I am still here and that's the main thing."
Anyone wishing to sponsor the ride should visit its website at www.ride2spa.com.