I’d already decided to theme this week’s blog around the trials and tribulations of nursing my beat up old body through the final eight and a half thousand miles when a video appeared on my timeline from Australia (question: why does the best material always come from Australia?) featuring a guy with one arm and one leg riding a mountain stage in the Alps. Apparently he’s riding the Alps and the Pyrenees for the second year in a row. After watching that, my wee aches and pains fade into insignificance. The video is on the LFN page so seek it out: it might inspire you to do something that you thought was utterly impossible.
But having raised a virtual glass to this guy, I’m still going to review where I’m at, because for most of this week, I’ve been contemplating what’s around the next corner or maybe just a couple of miles up the road.
It was around this time last year that I first noticed a wee niggly ache in my groin, and I did nothing about it until September when my GP confirmed it as a hernia. I know the routine from there: a letter to Crosshouse, an outpatient appointment where the initial diagnosis was confirmed, some pre-op tests and finally half an hour on the slab followed by a wee sleep, a cup of tea and home again. Total time from diagnosis to operation: four months. Total time spent by the NHS in sorting me out: seven hours tops. Total miles from initial grumbling to operation: five thousand miles.
I need eight and half thousand miles to finish the job. Another five thousand careful miles might get me a long way towards that target: or I might blow up. Right now, it’s like I’m driving an old banger back from say, China, and the engine was playing up. Y’know, like gotta drive at thirty to forty all the way home and hope it makes it. That’s the territory I’ll be in for the rest of the year at least..
One of the key benefits of keeping an Excel daily log in Evernote (apart from the fact that the miles are available 24×7 on a range of devices) is that allows me to look back and see where things have gone wrong. A year back, I can pinpoint a daily average of 44 over seven weeks. This year, I’m looking at 48 over ten weeks: the same period, just as the weather improved after the hell of a Fenwick Muir winter. Coincidence: I think not. Lesson learned: it would appear not. But then in my defence, I did think that the operation back in January had been a complete success and sorted the issue because I was pain free as recently as June.
If I can draw a parallel that springs to mind but on a different scale of magnitude, when a child with neuroblastoma has completed a gruelling course of treatment, twelve months being typical, the words that the parents want to hear are “cancer free”. But in reality, the interpretation that applies is “no evidence of cancer at that moment in time”. The two terms mean completely different things.
So in my case, what I should have considered back in June when everything was rosy in the garden, was that I was hernia free at that moment in time. Right now, I suspect that that is no longer the case and the workload over the piece may have something to do with it. Now what I have to do is fiddle about with the mileage plan and do what’s necessary to get myself over the finish line. That’s a combination of careful route selection according to the weather (or no route selection at all) and low gears. I don’t actually care if the lycra boys that I only ever see in nice weather go flying by at twice my speed: I know that I’ll still be out there in November and December in the dark on unlit roads while they’re lay on the couch.
I’d like to do a couple of shout outs this week, not least because both of these people have direct links to the LFN adventure.
This Sunday, the incomparable Jimmy Harrington is appearing live in the studio on JJ’s British Beat show on PBA FM in Adelaide. If you’re listening in Australia, it’s 9pm to 11pm. If you’re in the UK, it’s 12:30pm to 2:30pm. Quite apart from the fact that the music is always five star rated, matched by the banter on the BB Facebook page, having JH in the studio will allow those of us who don’t really know the guy behind the name to hear at first hand why he chose to walk around the coastline of Australia at age 20 to raise money and awareness for Brainchild, a charity that supports brain and spinal cancer in children. For those of you who don’t know the story, Google Jimmy’s Walk For Cancer: it’s just extraordinary. In the UK, you can get PBA-FM online by searching for the radio station then clicking listen live, or by listening on the Tune-In Radio app on a smartphone. It’ll be worth it, believe me.
The second person is a well known face if you happen to live in Scotland, and often referred to in LFN circles when the weather’s rubbish. Judith Ralston has been on the fringes of the action for a while now courtesy of random exchanges back and forth on social media about particularly nasty bits of weather just around the corner. What’s so random about that in the west of Scotland I ask myself? Anyway, Judith’s doing a charity bike ride for cancer in a couple of weeks, and after I’d commented on that, we struck up a deal whereby I’d do it too if she followed LFN. It’s a done deal now and Judith we welcome you aboard. Now, see that lovely bit of sunshine that you brought us to end the week, can you superglue it to the sky please?
In other news this week, I’ve knocked up a LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma Twibbon in support of the global campaign that runs throughout September to raise awareness of Children’s Cancer. If you’re not aware what a Twibbon is, it’s a wee logo that sits in the bottom right hand corner of your profile photo. The LFN Twibbon image is of a golden bike, gold being the colour that brands the campaign across the world. If you look at the large scale image that I posted on the LFN Facebook page, you’ll see that the bike is branded with LIFECYCLEFORNEUROBLASTOMA on the frame. You can add the golden bike to your own profile picture by clicking on the following links:
On the back of that idea, I’ve tweeted Glasgow City Council (more than once) and asked if they can arrange to have all of the prominent buildings in the city lit up in gold throughout September. I’m thinking of the City Chambers, the Hydro, the Armadillo, the Squinty Bridge, the BBC, STV and the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I’ve also suggested that they brand it #GlasgowGoesGold and show the world that people do indeed make Glasgow. Watch this space…
On the diary front, today was the 399th day of LFN since I started on 19th August 2013. The miles currently sit on 16,440, an average of 41.2 for each of those 399 days (on top of a full day’s work remember) and I will have a wee warm glow inside me on Monday when I finally crack 400 days on the road. The milestones follow quickly after that because in the next couple of weeks, there’s the two year anniversary followed by two thirds distance and 200 days to go at the current average rate. Oh, and 17,000 miles before the end of the month.
It continues to be difficult, and the early autumn of 2015 doesn’t help. But rest assured that I will stick in there, keep turning those pedals (slowly) and maybe even notch up a 12th consecutive 200 mile week next week.
Whatever the weather, I’ll just take it one day at a time…