Paralysed fundraiser Claire Lomas has set herself a new motorcycle challenge after the shock and disappointment of officials pulling the plug on her planned lap of the iconic Isle of Man TT course.
The 38-year-old, who is paralysed from the chest down, was preparing to take on the gruelling 37-mile road course with 227 testing corners next month despite not being able to feel the machine below her but organisers have decided it would be too dangerous for her.
Claire, from Eye Kettleby, is now planning to complete a lap at each of the nine circuits for the Bennetts British Superbikes Championships on the day of each race.
Thousands of pounds had already been donated for the aborted Isle of Man lap for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, to help cure paralysis, The Bike Experience, which aims to get more people on bikes, and The Matt Hampson Foundation, which supports injured sports people, and those causes will benefit from the new challenge, which starts at Silverstone on September 8.
Claire told the Melton Times: “Initially I was disappointed about the Isle of Man lap.
“I had trained hard with the help of Rockingham and MSV trackdays and I felt I was on target for the lap.
“However, if I get to do the challenge another year then the more experienced I am the better it will be.
“I respect their reasons and I am focusing on gaining more experience.”
She had been practicisng for the Isle of Man TT lap at speeds of up to 100mph on an adapted Suzuki SV650, with toe clips to prevent her feet sliding and velcro to hold her knees in place, on track days at Donington Park, near Leicester, and Rockingham, near Corby.
But the Manx Motor Cycle Club, which authorises races on the road circuit, decided to prevent her riding because of safety concerns.
It said in a statement: “The Manx Motor Cycle Club were very keen to support the remarkable Claire Lomas when she approached us about her ambitious attempt to lap the TT Mountain Course on a solo motorcycle.
“However, we have concerns about her level of experience in motorcycling to date and the demanding nature of the challenge that she has set herself.
“The TT Mountain Course has varying terrain and over 227 corners – it is both a major mental and physical challenge – and we feel that based on her development sessions with rider coaches, this year’s event is too soon for her to complete the challenge safely.
“As race organisers we are duty bound to act responsibly and have therefore advised Claire that we cannot permit the lap this year.”
The club says it has not closed the door on Claire eventually doing her lap on the Isle of Man, adding in its statement that it was ‘delighted’ Claire had set up an alternative fundraiser and that it would continue to talk to her as she develops her riding expertise.
The superbikes opportunity came about via Twitter after series director Stuart Higgs got in touch and he says the championship is ‘very proud’ to support Claire’s fundraiser.
She is now fully focused on the new challenge which will take place on different, unfamiliar circuits and in front of crowds of up to 50,000 people at each one.
She added: “I will be riding on the Sunday of the race meetings.
“I will be nervous but excited and honoured to have this amazing opportunity.
“I won’t know all the tracks so that makes it more daunting but I will continue doing MSV trackdays and improving my riding in the meantime.”
Go online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/clairesiomttlap to sponsor Claire or get in touch with her at www.claireschallenge.co.uk if you would like provide sponsorship on her bike or clothing during the nine-lap superbikes challenge.