The human body is a remarkable machine. For more weeks on end than I care to remember, I’ve been cycling on the edge. The number of wee niggles have been steadily rising: a calf here, a tendon there, a shoulder here, a neck there, a wee finger here, a knee there. The list is almost endless but none of those injuries are individually bad enough or sore enough to keep me off the bike. Only Jane knows how I am in the evening when I try to get out of the chair. Ice helps and brufen too, but I’m not a habitual pill popper and have no desire to become one: and in any case, ultrasound is my friend. Mouldy asked if we could go out to play this weekend and I had to turn him down: I felt bad, like I was letting a good pal down, but deep down I know I need the empty weekends to allow the sore bits to go again on Monday.
If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know my strategy with the sore bits: don’t ease back a single jot, but likewise, don’t push too much harder either… just let the body feel the workload then in a wee while, ask it for more: and keep doing it. If the girls up at Physioflexx (yes, it is double xx) are reading this, they might not be too impressed with my thinking, but hey, I’ve been doing that for over two years now and it seems to work!
You can’t fail to have noticed that September was Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, with #GoGold as its symbol. Well have you also noticed how, on Social Media, every month, indeed virtually every other day, has been taken up with “Awareness”. Branding has taken over the world. Jane knows I’m stubborn, Angela knows I’m stubborn and probably Ross too: my take on it is that I’m determined: I don’t do giving up, not easily and if possible, never at all. So when we got to end of September, it didn’t sit easily with me that I’d to toe the line and wait eleven months before I could start going on about neuroblastoma awareness again. I live this game 24×7. I live this game just like I watch Princess Puddles’ journey unfold 200 miles up the road, except I’m the lucky one. On October 1st, I refused point blank to give up the notion of staying Gold. So I thought to myself, secretly, “I wonder if I could do that again in October”? It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that Going Gold is feckin difficult to do: it’s a thousand LCFN miles in a calendar month: and it’s only ever happened twice in the 27 months that I’ve been on the road.
For starters, you almost certainly need a 31 day calendar month: there’s little point in shorting yersel’ and piling on the pressure. That’s how September ended up being so amazing because not only was it only a 30 day month but I had two days off the bike due to holidays and family commitments. So I piled it onto the other days, just for the kids. It was never going to be any other way. Pressure: yes. But you either rise to meet it head on, or you cower away.
So come October, I had sore bits all over the place and I’d promised myself that it would be a recovery month: except I also wanted to #GoGold again. I had one day parked as a holiday because I was down south (in South Britain) for a long weekend and originally intended travelling back up on the Monday. As it was we came back up on the Sunday night and I had a lie in on the Monday. So the month really didn’t get off to the best of starts: an opening two day 110 was followed by a 250 in the first full week then a four day 214 the next. It hardly set the heather on fire but at least it was comfortable: just 427 required in the remaining two weeks for a second consecutive Golden month. Then something happened to change all that…
I’d hurt my knee on the Friday of the second week, making an emergency stop whilst trying to avoid a kerb in the fog (glasses, fog, dark, couldn’t see where I was going: you get the picture). Simple stuff like getting out of a low chair and walking upstairs were particularly painful, and whilst the first few hundred yards on the bike were sore, after that it was okay. So applying Yompa’s Theory, I decided to give it a bit of a talking to and carry on regardless (see above).
The result was 258 last week, numero quatre on the all time list and a comfortable 832 for the month.
“Gold: piece of cake: just got to stay onboard…”: and that’s when I started thinking “what if”.
178 for Gold posed no challenge whatsoever so I set my sights instead on September’s 1053. “That’s only 221 away” I thought, so I might as well knock that one out the park. I didn’t set off too spectacularly, but Monday’s are always difficult because it’s food day: also, there was a hellish easterly headwind blowing on the way into work so progress was a bit on the tardy side: 48 was solid but was certainly nothing spectacular. But then 50, 52 and 55 on Tuesday through Thursday changed everything: 205 by Thursday night was a new four day record, and suddenly that September milestone was dangling tantalisingly by a thread, just 21 miles up the road. But by now I was more interested in a bigger prize. I was so focussed on a thousand, I’d never even contemplated eleven hundred. It had never been on the radar, ever. My thinking went along the lines of “2/27 for a thousand, what’s the point of thinking on a grander scale”.
Until last night.
I was forced into some serious rebranding (on the name front) before trying to get my head round the 63 miles it would take to seal the deal. The branding came easily: just call it Platinum because it’s rarer than Gold. And because Gold is September’s awareness symbol for kids with cancer per se, I decided that Platinum would be LCFN’s own awareness raiser for kids with neuroblastoma: but in October because I like to be different. It’s our month, our very own special month. 1100 miles on a bike in the calendar month of October is what it takes to Go Platinum. Simple but challenging.
I needed 63 today but gave it 71. I banged in a few extra on the south side of Glasgow seeing as it was a nice day, and it’s relatively flat compared to Ayrshire, but still stuck the Killie-Irvine loop on the end as I do most Fridays. The trip home was 41 miles on its own. The Killie-Irvine cycle path passes almost within sight of Andy Fisher’s house over the field at one point and I always gaze his way: Andy is a Team Oscar hero.
So October has been everything that I’d secretly hoped it would be, and more. Aim for Gold, hit Platinum. Aim for a good bunch of miles in the week, end up doing 276, the most ever: a Halloween Number One.
Now, talking of Halloween, this weekend is the anniversary of Vanessa and I stepping out at Celtic Park with the flag. It was on the 1st November, or tomorrow if you want to talk in Saturdays. I still treasure that picture that Chris took (Chris is V’s dad). I tweeted it when we were in the pub after the game, Vanessa retweeted it, and by tea time the following day it was on 690,000 Twitter accounts. It remains the single biggest piece of awareness raising that I’ve been involved in while I’ve been on the road. That photo was to celebrate 10,000 miles and now the race is on to script another scene to showcase 20,000 miles in a couple of weeks time.
The miles have fair rattled along over the summer. Since we came back from the States at the beginning of July, old George, the LifeCycle bike, has racked up over 4,000 miles. The daily average since the beginning of May is 50: that’s 50 miles every day on top of being at work. I have to pinch myself sometimes to believe that it’s actually happening. Old men don’t do things like this. Twenty two 200 mile weeks in a row and barring illness or injury, there’s no end in sight to that run. Not this side of Christmas anyway.
So what of the future?
Last week I reminisced about the Hundred Days Of Hell and how it tests you to the limit both physically and mentally. Well try this one for starters: if the weather is kind and that 50 mile average continues through the winter, then the 25K target will be done and dusted in just 112 more LCFN days. That’s not hell, that’s heaven.
But we’ll worry about that when it happens. I’m sure that Judith Ralston and her team will take good care of me over these next few months, and if they do, then there may be more splendid escapades like the ones that have adorned the last four weeks.
September may have been Gold, but October is Platinum.
LCFN goes Platinum in October for children with neuroblastoma!