I’m a cyclical animal. For 51 weeks of the year, I’m usually full of beans and ready for anything. But in the 52nd week, I’m a zombie. This was that week. What’s really strange (not) is that it happens at the same time every year, give or take a week or two. And it’s all to do with The Highland March, or in this case The Highland Bike. Readers of last week’s blog Keep Right On To The End Of The Road will know that Dunco and I pulled off a bit of an extravagant stunt by cycling from Fir Park, Motherwell to Carrbridge through Wednesday night and all day Thursday: 165 miles in seventeen and a half hours. This week was payback time.
Monday wasn’t bad. I’ve grown to dread the post HM Monday down the years but this one wasn’t too bad. I managed to stay awake for a start, which is always a bonus. And my legs felt okay too, but history will probably show that I was running on adrenaline.
Cue Tuesday: 5am. Alarm… “OMG no, I haven’t got to get up, have I”. Body not interested. Legs definitely not interested. When in need of some proper Oscar medicine, the message on the bottle is very clear… #NeverGiveUp
So, 18 miles into work, somehow, and a day spent craving the next feed just to get a decent shift in at the office. The irony here is that I actually love my job, have a lot on my plate just now, and need to be ultra productive so the motivation to do stuff is not the issue. Being tired is. Anyway, by hook or by crook, I got through the day, but then I had to put the hammer down on the bike coming home because we were going out in the evening, as in out the door at six fifteen. Rubber legs.
Wednesday was a repeat performance of Tuesday, but worse. Because we didn’t get home until ten on Tuesday night, any chance of an early night went clean out the window so Wednesday was basically Groundhog Day. Zzzzz….
You know that feeling when all you want to do is go to bed and sleep for days? Well that was me on Wednesday when I fell off the bike. As luck would have it however, dinner was late so nesting was a nine o’clock job: but it still got me eight hours kip for the first time in ages and it made me feel brand new. Thursday was almost normal, so much so I don’t think I yawned more than half a dozen times all day. And when you get to Thursday, you know that Friday’s miles are just gonna take care of themselves. You get on the bike and you turn the pedals. Five hours later (Friday is a half day in my work) you get back on the bike and do the same again, even if it is uphill and directly into a 25mph headwind. Job done.
Except…. Instead of taking the direct route home off the A77, I took Oscar’s loop and banged in an extra couple of miles. I did it because you can and because Oscar would have done exactly the same. #NeverGiveUp
One hundred and eighty miles in a week when I was basically running on fumes. And wee Oscar’s extra two miles on top. 182 from the wreckage of 232 the previous week is fantastic, truly fantastic. The old body is performing at a level I never imagined it could, and certainly way above anything I ever expected. Let me put all of this into perspective. In December, I wrote this in the blog “When I set off, I’d lived on a diet of 60-90 miles a week for the best part of 18 months and I thought that would remain pretty much par for the course. But I’d reckoned without the competitive spirit that’s always fighting within me. It’s like that old George Bernard Shaw saying about there being two dogs inside your head, one good and the other bad: the one that you feed the most is the one that wins. For me, competition with the past always wins the day unless I make a conscious effort to screw the nut and do what’s actually required for me right now in this moment. I find myself fighting that demon pretty much every day of the week. Yes I want to do the miles: yes I want to do even more miles, but in the back of my mind I know that there’s a limit on how far I can push an old body”.
Last September, I was amazed that I’d done 500 miles in my first full month. It gave me hope and it gave me confidence. But this is May and the weather’s finally looking up. Unless I suffer a major personal or mechanical failure in the next two weeks, May is going to deliver a whopping 850 LifeCycle miles. Now let’s stop and think about that for a minute. That’s 850 miles in a calendar month, on top of a full time job: with 1600ft of climbing every day. That’s equivalent to 8 times up and down Ben Nevis on top of the miles. Wow! Dear worn out old body, what the feck are you doing?
But if you’re reading this and thinking “this guy’s not only obsessed, he actually mad”, I challenge you thus: “go out and get yourself fitter than you ever believed possible”. Then some more. It’s a great place to be. By a mixture of good fortune and hard work, I’m currently riding the crest of a bike wave.
All week, I’ve been thinking about the success of The Highland Bike and how that event might translate itself into a week long event running alongside The Highland March. The problem is, without some extraordinary detours while the Marchers are out on the road, the Bikers would just spend far too much time in the pub. No, there has to be a better idea: and it has to involve doing LifeCycle miles. The final week of the football season is now a time to remember wee Oscar and to bang in some serious miles: I’m thinking #NeverGiveUp sort of miles. Last week, Dunco and I banged in 196. So I reckon that with some careful route planning, we can (at least) double that next year and do the Wee Man proud.
The Highland Bike is an Inverness Caley Thistle event.
LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma was born out of an idea that I had last summer after being inspired by Celtic supporters raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to support Vanessa Riddle, Oscar Knox and MacKenzie Furniss.
So next May, at the end of the football season, I propose The LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma Wee Oscar Highland Bike Tour, starting from the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium in Inverness, and finishing at Celtic Park. Along the way, the Wee Oscar Tour will call at every top flight ground in Scotland, which by my arithmetic, worked out while coming home today, makes it something in excess of 400 miles. I’ll leave you to ponder a potential route avoiding main roads. I’m up for it. Hands up who else is.
Which brings me to this question: how many miles do I think my old body will be capable of delivering the following week?
One Undred And Eighty. Two.