Take It To The Limit

I’ve been here before: and more than once. The first time was after Highland Bike 1 when I had a few of the injuries that are recurrent today. Some might say they’re overuse but I prefer to use the term finding the limits. To be quite honest however, this is Wednesday night and I’m literally staggering towards a record that I never contemplated that I would ever be able to grasp with both hands…

One thousand miles in a calendar month.

It isn’t the just the miles that do the damage. It isn’t even just the time that it takes that does the damage. What does the damage is the constant pressure of having to deliver huge miles, day after day, on top of a full time demanding job. As things stand, I’m averaging 51 miles for every day that I’ve been on the bike in May. And I’ve also been at work on 27 of them, with the exception of the two days that I did the Highland Bike with #TeamOscar. And maybe that’s where the problem lies. I’m often asked to go cycling at weekends and I always turn that opportunity down because Saturday and Sunday are my rest days. I’ve said it many times but if I start a new week unrefreshed, the outcome is both certain and unpleasant. Right now, I’m not in a good place.

On the injury front, I have an issue with the hamstring tendon at the back of my right knee. In fairness I’ve had that injury on an off for over twelve months, ever since HB1 when I think back, and I’ve kind of managed it with ice, ultrasound and a good talking to. But now I also have an issue in the back of my other knee, that one that for years has been referred to as my bad knee because that’s the one I crocked in the Corrieyairick Pass race and which subsequently required surgery and finished my running career. Then there’s constant cramping in my right quad. I’ve had that before too and I’ll deal with that by scoffing bananas and taking more water onboard. I’m convinced it’s dehydration related. And finally there’s my hernia scar. It’s been on fire for the past fortnight and whilst the cough test tells me that the repair is still okay, the scar isn’t. That gets the Sudocrem treatment every night to try and douse the flames. But see the worst part: riding along into the teeth of a gale when the pain suddenly kicks in extra sharp and you think “oh feck, I hope it hasn’t burst”! Then it recedes again, you check over it when you get home and it’s still intact. I always come to the conclusion that it must be the tight cycling gear digging into the sore spot. But it isn’t nice.

It’s at times when I feel like this that I realise that no one, not even my most fervent of supporters, can grasp how feckin’ difficult LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma really is: just like I have no proper understanding whatsoever what it must be like to live your life 24×7 with a child that’s in constant pain, and not knowing what the next day, next week or next month will bring. No one can until you’ve been there. But that’s the very thing that binds LFN to the families who live with neuroblastoma all year round. Gail Paterson called it right when she said recently “A year ago we were a normal family; now cancer is normal”. For me, two years ago, my daily working routine was normal; now it is one monumental physical and mental workload piled high on top of a normal working family life. But I won’t change my ways. I’m stubborn, I’ll freely admit it, but hey, if I wasn’t stubborn I most certainly wouldn’t be sitting on 14,500 odd miles after 21 months on the road. Stubborn, or committed as prefer to call it, should be my middle name.

At this point, since I’m kind of in the mood for one, let me loose on a rant. On Sunday, Finn, Joe and I went to the Celtic-Inverness match at Celtic Park. People who know me well will also know that I try to treat everyone equally, fairly and honestly, and that extends to football supporters too. I’m prepared to go where others fear to tread, and on this occasion, that meant being in the Kerrydale Suite, a hotbed of Celtic fervour, for fully 90 minutes before the match kicked off: and sitting with a table full of Celtic fans enjoying great craic and festivity. After all, this was their championship party so why not engage and embrace: for we still have a Cup Final to look forward to this coming weekend, and at their expense too. I guess just being in there is enough to upset some of my mates, but apparently I committed an even worse sin at kick off: I took time out to video the home support giving it laldy on a rousing rendition of YNWA as the game kicked off. Apparently that’s extremely bad form if you’re young, blinkered and inward looking. Fortunately I consider myself to be none of those things. So to finish this wee rant, I’ll say this to my accusers: see at the final whistle when you all fecked off: I stayed behind to see what it’s like for a team to lift a big trophy, because in my football life, that hardly ever happens. And do you know who else stayed behind on the away terrace to applaud Celtic lifting the SPFL trophy? Charlie Christie and his wife. I guess that makes them bad people too: I counted six bad people in the away end. The rest had gone sulking away after a bad day at the office. Well I’ll finish this rant by telling you what I did after the match: I met up again with the same crew I’d been with pre-match and we just carried on like the game had never happened (except they were in the mood to paaaarty). I’m proud to call these guys n gals my friends and I know (because they told me so) that they’re proud to have an away supporter roll with them, drink beer and make merry. And the postscript to this story is that the next time we’re in town, I’ll do it all again. And just for the record, these guys are all devout supporters of LNF…

With that off my chest, I want to share some great news with you. I have met some fantastic people on this journey, people who I am proud to call my friends and one of them is Princess Puddles’s mum Gail. Gail messaged me earlier this evening with a screenshot of Eileidh’s Appeal: it’s sitting at a whopping £80K. Just a few days ago it was only at £70K and as every day passes I, and everyone else associated with the campaign is growing ever more confident that our wee Princess is gonna be on that plan to America at the end of June. For all you Inverness supporters reading this, pick a number, either five or ten, then pledge to chuck those number of pounds into Eileidh’s Appeal for every goal that we score in the Cup Final on Saturday. I think Jane and I had had a wee bit to drink when we made our pledge but hey ho, I cannae think of a better way of splashing the jumping about cash, assuming that we do score some goals that is.

And so finally: to the scoreboard. This has felt like a second innings run chase all week: 223 to make that elusive thousand, reducing first by 45, then by 48 and today by 49. With only 81 remaining and two days to do it in, it’s tantalisingly close. If the bike stays fit and my body doesn’t break, it should happen just like it does in the movies. And that will leave one more major target before our summer holiday:

15,000 miles: or as I prefer to call it, only four digits to the finish line.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be really bothered when it happened so long as I got to crack a bottle of fizzy and scoff cake, but for weeks and weeks now, I’ve had my eye on a special date: Jane’s birthday. For ages it was going to be a breeze but then I lost June 10th because our Joe has an appointment that I need to accompany him to. At relatively short notice, the loss of those 40 miles has piled the pressure on the remaining days and that in turn has added to the pressure of delivering those thousand miles in May: the two events were always interlinked. Can I do it? Yes. But for yes, you should really read maybe. I could deliver on Friday then break down on Monday. And there’s really only one way of finding out. I need to deliver 44 a day between now and the middle of June to give Jane 15,000 miles on her birthday. But at least that’s seven down on where I’ve just come from.

I can and will Take It To The Limit (one more time….)

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