Quad Bike

Four miles in two weeks. You could be forgiven for thinking that I’ve retired, but I haven’t. I’m taking an injury timeout. The four miles were courtesy of a two mile trip out of town on Monday afternoon (a lovely crisp autumn day for a bike ride, just as every day has been this week), before I had to turn round and head back home. I fear that this is gonna be a long haul.

I look back forty years through a catalogue of running and biking injuries that includes a chipped ankle (operation), a chipped elbow, multiple Achilles tendon injuries, too many calf strains to count, hamstring tendon strains (top and bottom), a destroyed cartilage, maybe a couple of dozen toenails, torn ligaments in hands, arms knees and ankles, groin muscles torn, hamstrings torn, shin splints… the list goes on and on. There was even one infamous night at the Cumbernauld sports injuries clinic in ’83 after my first Marathon Walk when I had three different physios working of separate injuries simultaneously.

But never a quadriceps tear. Until now.

The main muscle that does the hardest shift, the one that drives the engine, has given way. And in this glorious autumn weather, I can’t even start to describe how frustrating and annoying that is. Four measly miles in two gorgeous weeks and no end in sight to the misery. I did it chasing KOM’s on tired legs. Yes, I know, it serves me right.

I’ll try and describe it: Remember when you were wee and yer pal (at least, you thought he was yer pal) gave you a Chinese burn? Well that’s what this feels like, except it’s slap bang in the front of my thigh. As I’m sat here now, I can feel it, yet the only exercise I’ve done today is cut the grass. I need to set Jane loose on it now that she’s a qualified Swedish Masseur. She passed her exams last weekend. Chapeau!

What’s going to make this even more frustrating is that Jane’s signed up to do a 6am boot camp for the next four weeks and I would have jumped at the chance of heading out the door to bag 20 miles in the dark before breakfast. I used to love those early morning forays out into the wilderness when there was no other bugger about. But even if I somehow make a miraculous recovery, 6am is out of the question: nae warm up and surrounded by hills is just asking for trouble. So I’m gonna sit out the next few weeks, October for sure, and take each week after that as it comes. There’s zero point in trying it out again soon, only to break down, because that’ll put me back right back to the start and possibly beyond: scar tissue and all that. The LCFN record for lost time stands at 9 weeks after a hernia op in 2015: this may come close.

The first casualty of doing hee haw has been food. I like to trough loads of the stuff, which is never a problem when yer burning up 1500 calories a day. But when yer sat on yer backside, that’s a big meal or two that have to be parked for another day. And the beer, which is more than a trifle unfortunate.

Anyway, that’s enough of my expanding 32” waistline…

What about Puddles?

Last week, if you recall, was the worst week ever. Poor Gail could do little, save for reporting on one bad experience on top of another. Forgive me for thinking it, let alone putting it into print, but the adult strength treatment is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back and ends a young person’s life. Despite the fact that Eileidh has defied the odds time and again and bounced back stronger than before, last weekend was different. I’m not even going to start to pretend that I understand the toxicity of the chemo, but my understanding is that this round has been the hardest and most toxic of any that our Princess has had to endure. It was never like this in Corrie…

I think each of us reading the unfolding story were somehow secretly fearing the worst.

But Eileidh is Eileidh.

I love the way Gail manages to weave mischief into the blog, as though “up to no good” is a watch phrase for “she’s feeling much better and on the way back”. It’s what we all hope for, every day. You know that scene in “Brave”, the song mashup between Sara Bareilles and Cyndi Lauper, where all the kids fighting cancer sneak out of their rooms to go paint daubing down the corridor? That’s how I imagine Eileidh on a good day: out of bed, off down the ward (still attached to her kit, of course), and up to no good, but in a nice way.

And so it came to pass that in the middle of this week, Gail greeted us with these words “Eileidh went back up to the medical ward just before lunchtime today. She has responded so well to TVD, they have decided not to give her the final block. They feel it would do more harm than good. The risk of severe and possibly fatal complications is too great to warrant it”.

Whisper it quietly, for that is all we can do just now, but Eileidh is doing okay. This is one small step, another tiny wee step along the road to a proper four year old’s life. Eileidh is a remarkable child, and it’s hugely sobering to me, to think that it’ll be two years since I first met her in a few weeks’ time. That’s almost half of her wee life that she’s been fighting this demon with a smile on her face.

Talking of fighting things, the Solving Kids Cancer team, featuring Leona Knox on behalf of the parents, and a battalion of medical/lawyery folk, took NICE to an appeal in Manchester last Friday. NICE inexplicably decided, a couple of months ago, that they would deny kids in the UK access to the drug that families hundreds of thousands of pounds for, so they can get access to treatment in the United States. A drug that was 30 years in research and development, and proven to make a difference, denied on grounds of cost. As if kids’ lives didn’t matter whereas it’s okay to waste thousands of times that money on waging war. It’s an immoral situation to be in, and one that does this country a great disservice. Leona, I sincerely hope that you and your team get the result the kids so richly deserve.

When it comes to deserving things, no one is more so this week than Steve Abraham, the king of our LCFN Million Mile Challenge on Strava. Steve has spent around 16 hours a day on two wheels in pursuit of the world record for the most miles cycled in 30 consecutive days. The big man came in at 7,104 miles (and a half) which works out at an astonishing average of 236 miles a day. Every day! Divide that by the time he spent on the bike and you’re up around 15mph average. I’m lucky if I can bring that average home after two hours, let along sixteen, and for thirty days in a row? Astonishing! The word machine was invented for Steve Abraham, world record holder elect.

The squad that’s been banging in those Million Miles, as mentioned a week ago, comes from countries all over the world. Well this week we welcomed another important member to LCFN, not on the bike but on the Facebook page. Afshin, who studied medicine at the Tehran University of Medical Science, has a beautiful daughter Hana who’s been diagnosed with neuroblastoma at stage one. As we are only too aware with the cases that we’ve encountered on LCFN, neuroblastoma is indiscriminate in who it selects for the fight. Afshin can draw strength from the fact that he has found us, because we will follow Hana’s journey, and offer what support we can, just as we would if the child was our own. Afshin, welcome to LCFN : our journey knows no bounds.

The final topic for this week comes from a programme I caught on TV last night on Diabetes. I know more than a wee bit about the disease through my current work in disease detection, but the stark reality of the sharp end of the disease, with people losing limbs and their vision, was a sharp, and at times unruly reminder of what we are doing to our bodies with our slothlike couch potato lifestyles. There will be people reading this who will think “but it won’t happen to me” and I will counter that with “oh yes it will. Your habits are yours to choose: or to change. Get on a bike and burn, baby, burn. If you didn’t see the programme, then I implore you to catch it on iPlayer. You will be shocked: possibly into action.

I’ve spent the last three years burning up calories, almost a million and a half of them on this gig, but last night’s show had me worrying that I need to get over this injury sooner rather than later. I need to be out there. I need to be powering a quad bike.

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