Ma Wee Sair Knee

Where to start?

They say that a week’s a long time in politics but that claim doesn’t stand a chance alongside a week on this caper. Let’s turn the clock back 10 days…

Last week’s rant “Rest If You Must But…” was knocked up early because I’d to head north to the land of the league leaders, Inverness, last weekend for Granny’s 80th. And the drama that was yet to unfold (at the end of the week) is still untold to the public at large.

Here’s the scenario: I’d elected to ride last Friday, basically because I refuse to give up any opportunity to bag miles unless it’s (a) -10C or (b) 6” of snow under my wheels. Everything else is fair game in my book. However I was under pressure to get home, get changed and leg it up the road so when I left work at midday, there wasn’t a minute to spare. I’d conditioned myself, even at the end of another 200 mile week, to 90 minutes of pretty much flat out effort.

But it was raining: and it was windy, as in 25mph of a headwind windy. The route out of work is a rat run designed to minimise traffic lights and motors. But at the first significant junction, there was a constant stream of traffic coming from my left so I thought “sod it, left it is then”. I normally go right. From there it’s about a hundred yards down a fast straight downhill before a wee road on the right takes me back to where the right turn would have delivered me: swings and roundabouts really.

When I got to the wee right turn, there was nothing coming and I was doing about 20. The road cuts back on itself so you kind of need all of the road to make the turn: but hell, there was a car parked 5 yards round the corner on my side of the road. With no room to make the turn fast, I hit the brakes to miss the motor: too late, I was on a white 20mph sign on the road. The back wheel locked up on the wet paint, I tried to adjust, overcooked it and the bike spat me off, except it didn’t because I was clipped on. I went down hard on the same knee that I injured in a major off recceing the Corrieyairkick in 2006 before doing it again in the actual race two weeks later. After surgery in 2007, I was told that my endurance days were over. The surgeon was right: I couldn’t run but I sure as hell could ride a bike and get my fix that way, sair knee or no sair knee.

At this point, let’s get one thing clear: it was my fault 100%. I took the corner too fast and didn’t expect a plonker to park up in a dangerous location. Okay let’s change that: 90% my fault and 10% plonker…

Unfortunately that was my fifth off since I started LifeCycle and four of them have ended with me coming down on that knee. It’s not happy. So cue last Friday: handlebars bent, troos ripped (I always wear troos in the rain for muscle warmth) lots of blood and a very sore knee. Given the circumstances there was hee haw I could do except straighten out the bike and jump back on. I legged it down the road as best I could and interestingly enough, the driving rain actually did a good job of washing away the blood. But by the time I’d got changed and sat in the car for four hours driving up the road, I was struggling. If this had been any other day but Friday, I was gubbed: game over.

But I haven’t experienced 30 years of sports injuries for nowt: I know that ice, ultrasound and Ibuprofen are the secret ingredients of getting a LifeCyclist back on the road. Saturday: wasted (in more ways than one). However in matters football, Inverness won, we played well and we’re still top of the league! Sunday: struggling, courtesy of a fatal crash on the A9 at Dalwhinnie and a 6 hour detourious drive home via Spean Bridge, Fort Bill and the A82. Not ideal…

On arrival back home, the first thing I did was shop. The second thing I did was get out on my bike to see what would happen… sair, as they say in Scots, but I can deal with that. I don’t do sair, I do let’s get this thing done.

Now, roll the clock back 24 hours…

I tweeted sometime on Saturday, knowing that I was in trouble, that it was distinctly possible that I wouldn’t make Monday. It was that close. Here’s the response that came back from the very same special person that featured in last week’s blog:

“remember you’re playing the long game… -40 miles on Monday v -8000 miles next year! Be kind to yourself”

And that was followed shortly after by

“good luck #LifeCycle man! #knowyourlimits #whatlimits

Now when you’re sat there reading this, you probably don’t appreciate how supportive and how inspiring those words are. I’ve averaged 44 miles a day (on top of a full time job) since Highland Bike back at the start of May and here was a scenario that threatened to derail my progress. There was no way I was not getting on that bike at 5am on Monday morning.

Ride into work I did, loaded as ever with food and stuff for the week. Monday is always the heaviest payload, a real shame in this instance because it’s as hilly as feck. But I took it easy, real easy. I expected a kickback on the return trip and it was with real trepidation that I set off uphill from the factory… “hmm, not bad, I can deal with this”.

Tuesday and Wednesday were basically a repeat performance, Groundhog Day if you like, and the real upside of this was that by the time I set out on Thursday, not only was I 130 miles further down the road than I might have been, but my legs felt quite fresh: cue the madhouse. Tuesdays and Thursdays I do the fitness training at my youngest lads’s football team (U15) so there’s basically no time to lose on the home run: leg it lad.

And as I was l feeling okay, albeit with a sair knee, it spawned the following prose on Twitter. LifeCycle does Burns I guess you could say:

Oh wee sair knee ye’ve made me glee,

wi a hunnerd an seventy miles.

But fifty mair is surely fair,

up an doon ’em hiles

Well here’s the repost, cobbled up 24 hours later:

Ma wee sair knee

How have ye be?

I know I asked ye big stuff

Fifty I said but sixty ye ken

Ye are so, so, so, so, so tough

So let’s get this straight: Today was 63 miles. That’s the most in a single day since I started, and it was fuelled by untired legs. The run home was 39 miles and it was the longest single run since I started, fuelled by untired legs (okay, and malt extract doorsteps on top of loads of salmon). The week was 238 miles, only four short of the all time record since LifeCycle began. Did I see that coming? No way, not a chance. Did I envisage 200 miles seven days ago? Probably not.

But this is where we’re at: this whole escapade is not about giving up. Would you ask the family of a child to give up when all is seemingly lost? Of course not: the parents of Ashya King proved that. So the show goes on and next week promises another red letter day… (check the miles)

But before that, let’s just stop and take stock. A year ago, I was three weeks into LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma. Those first three weeks were 115, 120 and 124. Now roll the clock forward to the first three weeks of year two: 231, 221 and 238.

These are extraordinary times.

My special mentor said #knowyourlimits #whatlimitsand sometimes I feel like that. Push, push, push. Indeed I’ve fined tuned that for my Twitter followers to #NaeLimits but in actual fact I know that I can’t actually do any more. But fortunately I don’t need to…

Ma wee sair knee will see to that.

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