When Claire Lomas was paralysed from the chest down when she fell from her horse during an eventing competition in 2007 she never could have believed that one day she would ride a lap of the North West 200 course on a motorcycle.
Claire’s life was turned upside down when she was just 27. Her accident saw the Englishwoman lose her sport and a career as a chiropractor. Her relationship also fell apart and Claire felt she was losing her identity before she began to focus on rebuilding her life by pushing the boundaries of what she could achieve to new and unforeseeable levels.
In the years since her life changing accident Claire has raised over £850,000 for charity through various challenges, including taking 17 days to complete the 2012 London Marathon in a special robotic suit. A mum, an author and a motivational speaker, she was awarded an MBE in 2017.
Alongside her charity endeavours, Claire has also qualified as a pilot and learned to ride motorbikes, eventually gaining her race licence. Having never ridden a motorcycle prior to her accident, getting to grips with two wheels was particularly challenging for Claire as she has no movement or sensation from the chest down. Taking on her charity lap of the North West 200 roads course on May 11 will present another new challenge as she has previously limited her outings to tracks like Donington Park.
“I am absolutely honoured to have the opportunity to take on this incredible challenge.” Claire says.
“It will be very different to being on a track, which is my only experience. I’m raising money for Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation so that one day paralysis can be reversible.”
Claire’s Suzuki has been adapted with straps to stop her knees from flapping in the wind and toe clips securing her feet to the foot plates. A special shifter allows her to change gears using only her hands. Her husband and father are part of the team, helping to launch her at the start of her lap and catching her when she returns.
“Straight after my accident I thought life was pretty much over.” Claire says.
“Then I started to explore what I was able to do and found new doors to open but I never thought I would be riding a motorbike around the roads in Northern Ireland. It’s both scary and exciting in equal measure!”
“What Claire has achieved is remarkable and we will be delighted to welcome her to the North West 200 as she takes on a new challenge in her journey for a very worthwhile cause.” Mervyn Whyte of the NW200 said.
“Her determination and courage are an inspiration to everyone and Claire will have the support of every North West 200 fan during her lap of the famous 8.9 mile Triangle circuit in May.”