A Forres man who achieved the second fastest time ever competing in the Scottish 100-mile cycle championship is determined to go one better – but first he needs to get a new bike!
Callum Finlayson is determined to compete in the British time trial championship in July having already taken the Scottish equivalent and in doing so coming within just 54 seconds of the fastest ever time.
The Moray Firth Cycling Club member, however, is currently struggling to obtain the equipment he believes is essential if he is to take the next step.
Callum’s achievements already are all the more remarkable when the fact that he suffered a stroke five years ago is taken into account – the result of the rare condition ‘neurosarcoidosis’. He was told at the time that he could never ride a bike again, but grit and determination saw the 41-year-old stage a remarkable fight back to fitness.
Now Callum, who lives with his wife Stephanie and six-year-old son Brodie, is working to set up a charity that will help people with the same condition as he believes ironically, it was the cycling that saved him.
Meanwhile the driving instructor is now also throwing himself into fundraising for the £12,000 required for a bike frame and other pieces of equipment which will help him break the Scottish record.
Callum said: “I have phoned and written to dozens of bike companies but I have been knocked back.
“Some have said they can give a discount but the sheer cost of what I need to break the record is just too high. I am determined to break the record next July, but to do that I need a better frame and ideally other pieces of kit which will help me go faster.
“I won this years race on a bike which was all put together from second-hand equipment – I got the frame off eBay and someone lent me handle bars.
“I can use that bike again if I have to but I know I can do so much better if I have a new bike. All of the pieces of kit I need come from different manufactures. I need the frame, handle bars, gears, wheels for example.”
Following his stroke Callum’s weight rose rapidly to 21 stone and he was told that he would not be back to ‘normal’ for at least three years – and never go anywhere on his own.
“I turned to the internet, did some research and got a second opinion that backed me and said I had a better chance of beating this if I got fit.
“So I took a chance and went back on my bike. Initially I had to have someone cycle with me as I was not allowed out alone. The hardest thing was putting my cycling gear on due to my size – once I actually broke a rib putting a shoe on.”
His efforts paid off however – and now he is absolutely determined to help others. He said: “There is not a lot of information out there about neuroscarcoidosis apart from gloom and doom – Stephanie had to stop me from looking on the internet as she found me crying at what I had read.
“There is no help group for people who have the condition or their families, so as well as winning the race in record time, I am also setting up the charity PedalStrokes for Scarcoidosis.
“I know I can be a good mentor for people and I can inspire people who have been through the same or similar. The charity will be aimed at those who have what I have, have suffered a stroke or have epilepsy, but I also want to helped those who have served in the armed forces.
“Nobody should have to go through what my family and I did alone, so as well as knocking the record out of the park, I plan to dedicate myself to helping others.”
To help Callum in his pledge to thrash the Scottish record people are invited to visit Callum’s website.