C’mon Eileidh

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Hell, it’s great to even have a plan in the first place, but when you’ve half a dozen tricky wee issues that need dealt with, and they all get sorted and things start to fall into place, then it’s a great feeling. Right now, I’m in the bit where the plan’s taking shape but so much can still (and probably will) go wrong.

Here’s what’s happened…

Some weeks ago, the Caley Thistle Highland Marchers announced that they were going back to doing fundraising this year to support LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma and I was very humbled by that. These guys are my friends, some of my bestest friends, and to have them come out of sponsorship retirement for something I believe in so passionately is just fantastic.

But something didn’t feel right.

Here I am, bashing my little legs in to raise what I can to support the NCCA when the Marchers have got a wee girl up the road, right on their doorstep practically, who needs the same cash that might already be coming out of my pot.

Let me roll this story back five months to the beginning of December…

Mouldy and I had just completed the Edinburgh Sick Kids to Yorkhill leg of Cycling Santas and we were in a pub on Byres Road in Glasgow, tired, cold and hungry. And my mind was already starting to focus on the drive down to Stranraer ahead of the final leg in Belfast the following day. The weather was pretty wretched and after we’d eaten, people were starting to head off home. But Mouldy headed in a different direction. He went to talk to a couple on another table where there was a wee girl playing on an iPad. I went over to join him and for a good twenty minutes, we got the inside story of how this wee girl had been in Yorkhill fighting neuroblastoma. And as we ourselves were getting ready to go, she was getting carried about on her papa’s shoulders, loving it all.

It wasn’t until a few days later when I received some photos from Carol, one of the ladies who were on that table, that I twigged who the wee girl was. Even Mouldy didn’t twig because we were discussing that chance meeting last night.

It was Eileidh Paterson.

I’ve followed Eileidh’s story pretty much ever since, always torn by the desire to do more, whilst wanting to stick by my original principle of trying to help all kids, not just selecting one child in particular.

Then came the Highland March and the Highland Bike. I went back to my mates and said “look, I think we should chuck all the money into Eileidh’s pot. She needs £100K by June in order to fund specialised DFMO treatment in the USA (that’s not available in the UK) to help prevent the neuroblastoma from returning and her need is seriously more immediate than mine”. It was an open goal. The guys came straight back and said “let’s do it”.

Let’s put this into perspective for a moment. Eileidh is a Highland girl. The HM is a Highland event. The HB is a spin off of the Highland March. We haven’t done sponsorship for a few years so our captive audience should be refreshed. It’s as perfect a fit as we’re ever going to find.

So at that point, and we’re talking as recently as 48 hours ago here, the plan was to cycle and walk from Caley Stadium to Celtic Park for Eileidh. Then late on Tuesday night, Mouldy came back to me… “why don’t we start the cycle in Forres? That’s where Eileidh lives and it’s only 25 miles to Inverness”. So a few emails, instant messages and text messages later and we had a new plan. The Highland Bike will start in Forres on the Saturday morning and the #TeamOscar cyclists will set off for Inverness having done the ceremonials to acknowledge our adopted wee star. When we get to Inverness, we’ll team up with the Marchers and the rest of the football related stuff will be as per usual for a Highland March.

We went public with the plan on Wednesday night and now it’s all systems go. There’s a lot to do in only two weeks, not the least of which is get a PR machine into full swing and get the money flowing in. We need to get our combined supporters hooked up to the Eileidh appeal until the clock runs down in June. And behind the scenes, there are other, as yet undisclosed things that remain to be sorted out. There are things that we’d like to do that are off the scale in terms of impact, but which require careful planning and authorisation. That’s where we’re at just now.

On the activity front, this week closes the book on April. When it started, I had just a couple of tentative weeks under my belt since coming back, and I was far from certain of both my fitness and how the hernia repair would react to being back on the bike. OMG it’s been hard work, and the weather this week has made it especially so. My weight, which kicked off at a whopping stone above where I would ideally like to be, has not come off at the rate that I would have liked, but I’m happy to report that I can now manage to get into more than one pair of trousers. Half a pound a week seems to be the rate of flab loss. It’ll take longer than I’d hoped but I can live with that. The hernia has been less good. There’s a test that the doctor does: the cough test. It’s a total giveaway if the abdominal wall pops out when you cough because that indicates the site and magnitude of the tear. I have a sore groin but the cough test is reporting negative. The repair is holding but I clearly haven’t overcome the loss of power in the surrounding region. At least that’s my take on it. Pain remains a four letter word until physical evidence says that I have to ease back or take a break. The surgeon said it might take months for the pain to go away completely and it seems like he was right.

And that brings me to the miles…

I reckoned this time last week that I’d be well into the 800’s for April but that took account of a planned day off the bike last Monday. That plan got knocked on the head at short notice so I found myself in the office on all five days. Cue another full house of 200+ miles and instead of racking up a monthly total in the top five, suddenly I found myself looking at the third step on the podium. OMG, where the hell did that come from? 924 in the first full month back.

The plan now is just to keep a lid on the pain, keep the clock ticking over at fortyish every working day, and run down the miles. May’s gonna be mental. Next week’s a three day week courtesy of Monday’s bank holiday and a trip down south on Friday to see my mother: she’s 89 not out but finding it increasingly difficult to smash the ball all round the park. She’s more of a regular number eleven these days just batting the conversation back down the wicket with a straight bat: “Eh, yer wah”?

Since I’ve been back, I haven’t looked at the mileage plan as much as I used to simply because it scares me: such a long way to go and so out of shape. But today, I found myself looking back to this time last year, and something struck me. Something jumped right out the page and splatted me smack on the forehead between the eyes. I work on daily average miles: I always have done. And the average that really, really matters is the one that shows how many miles I’ve cycled on the days that I’ve actually been on the bike. That average ignores holidays and weekends and because of that it tells me, at the current rate of knots, exactly how many days there are left until I reach 25,000 miles. Now I’ve been assuming all the way through that I’d hit the winning mile in the late summer of 2016, maybe late August/early September. Then I looked again at the mileage chart…

On April 30th 2014, I had 581 days left to cycle at the daily average rate I was doing back then. Today, April 30th 2015, that number stands at just 288. That suggests that despite there only being 228 working days in a calendar year, I’ve actually managed to reduce the asking rate by 293 days. It seems impossible but I’ll leave it to the reader to work how it was done.

The last thing I want to talk about this week is the weather. It’s been awful. Okay, this is the West of Scotland and we’re used to rubbish weather but hang on a minute, this has been the last week in April and we’ve had repeated hail storms, we’ve had snow, we’ve had rain, and of course, judging by all that lot, it’s been very, very cold too. And windy. But LifeCycle doesn’t stop for a bit of inclement weather: just stick on an extra layers and get out there.

And I’ll leave you this week with a rallying call to the Marchers and the Bikers… this is the 2015 remix…

In the words of Dexy’s

C’mon  Eileidh

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