A Finchley solicitor with an incurable degenerative disorder of the nervous system is gearing up for a 380-kilometre Norwood cycling challenge in Israel.
Douglas Silas, 44, was diagnosed with the rare cerebellar ataxia in 2004. He is steadily losing control of his eyesight, speech and limb co-ordination and now uses a wheelchair.
He has started a strict training regime in preparation for the five-day ride in November, for which he will use a specially-built three-wheel recumbent trike. He has the support of friends and seasoned Norwood cyclists Paul Tuhrim and Stephen Harrison and aims to raise £50,000.
"The doctors in charge of my medical care advised me early on that whatever I wanted to do in life, I should try to do earlier rather than later," Mr Silas explained. "So I am trying to cram the rest of my life into a few years. I have realised that if I do not do a bike ride now, I may never have the opportunity again, so I want to maximise what I can raise for Norwood whilst taking part in a challenge of a lifetime."
His legal firm acts for children with special educational needs and he has recently been shortlisted for Solicitor of the Year by the Law Society.
Another on the challenge is north Londoner Michael Cash, 37, who has cerebral palsy.
Mr Cash, who works for an online maths tuition company, learnt about the ride through Norwood's chair of patronage Ronnie Harris, with whom he will be riding tandem. He has been training hard and has raised more than £3,000 for the charity over the past three months.
"I really enjoy the buzz and sense of achievement I get whilst cycling," he said. "Everyone has been really encouraging and supportive and I look forward to taking part."