Leicester

'Bionic' woman Claire Lomas plans cycling challenge

A paralysed Leicestershire woman who walked the London Marathon route in a "bionic" suit says she is planning a "more ambitious" challenge.

Claire Lomas from Eye Kettleby near Melton Mowbray, hopes to cycle from London to Paris using a bike powered by legs and arms.

She said she was not even sure if the design existed and talks with a biking firm were in the early stages.

But she is aiming to be ready for the cycling challenge next spring.

The 32-year-old said she usually trained on a static version of the sort of bike she hoped to use.

Pedalling motion

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

"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," she said.

She said her priority was building up her legs, but she still wanted to have the option to use her arms incorporated in the design.

"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."

No medal

Mrs Lomas was left paralysed when she broke her neck, back and ribs and punctured a lung in a riding accident at the Osberton Horse Trials in Nottinghamshire.

"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."

Mrs Lomas walked up to two miles a day to complete the London Marathon course, accompanied by her husband Dan, mother Joyce and 13-month-old daughter Maisie.

She crossed the finish line 16 days after starting the race.

Organisers were criticised for insisting she would not appear in the official results or receive a medal for finishing, as rules state competitors must complete the course on the day the event starts.

She said she would continue to raise money for the charity she supported when she completed the marathon.

Donations are still coming in, but she estimates she has raised nearly £200,000 for Spinal Research.

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