113, And A Miss

Today, I was nearly snookered behind the yellow, or should I say under it. The weather was awful, some might even go so far as to say it was shit, and I set out, in driving rain, to knock off another twenty odd miles in support of Puddles. The way it works is that I try to make my two hours on the bike as challenging and interesting as I can in the time that I have available. They say that time is money, but in my game, time spent on the bike is also hugely productive in the creative sense.

I’ll come back to the yellow in a bit but first let me lift the lid on the Puddles connection.

I wear a wristband that ties LCFN to Eileidh’s Journey. So do a couple of hundred other people around the world. I know there’s one in Philadelphia because I’ve seen a photo of it on Facebook. There are also twenty or so in Straya: two are in Brisbane and the rest are in transit to Adelaide as you’re reading this. I so want my Aussie friends to have LCFN/EJ bands.

Eileidh has been most unwell these last couple of weeks, fluctuating between her normal bouncy persona and a much more subdued clone of her mischievous self. Gail writes such a fantastic and detailed account of the day’s trauma late into the evening that it’s become a regular fix in the lives of so many of her supporters. Sometimes I wonder if I actually need to share the story on LCFN because I suspect that most of my followers are on Eileidh’s Journey as well. These are really, really difficult days for the Princess of Puddledom.

So the way I look at it, I wear her band and it has both of our names on it: Eileidh’s Journey and LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma. Gail has told me on numerous occasions that Eileidh thinks that everyone on a bike is called Steve, which is really kinda cute: I guess we both get it, to use Leona Knox’s phrase. Eileidh gets people on bikes and I get how hard she’s fighting for her life right now.

So I push harder because she’s having to.

So I go up more hills because she’s climbing the walls.

So I go into the wind on the way out so I can hopefully recover on my way home.

So I never give up. Vanessa Riddle didn’t. Wee Oscar didn’t and Princess Puddles most certainly isn’t. That’s our mantra.

This is all relevant because the weather has turned. While our Aussie friends are basking in their spring, we are staring down the barrel of a Scottish winter. The wind is up already and has been blowing at 25mph off the coast for most of the week. And now the rain’s here as well. This is Scotland. This is LCFN.

But as I was trailblazing out into a fierce headwind today, the rain smashing down across my face, I found a positive vibe… “This ain’t the Fenwick Muir. I don’t have to ride the Fenwick Muir ever again in winter”. But you know I’m gonna, just for the hell of it and for old time’s sake. Probably at 5am too so I can get the full, surreal “did I really survive this for three years” feeling. If you’re reading this and you’re living in England, then I understand how you won’t quite grasp what this is about. The biggest onshore windfarm in Europe (before the Romanians built a bigger one) is five miles up the road. It powers Glasgow. Do you get my drift? The Fenwick Muir in winter is pure evil on a bike.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah yes, snookered behind the yellow…

I was flying back to Stewarton with the wind on the Irvine road, doing about 20mph (Strava confirms it), just past Perceton and over the top of the brow of a hill, when this happened:

The number 113 from Irvine to Stewarton.

I nearly shat myself. I was wearing a high viz yellow jacket because the weather was bad, and I had two red strobe lights on the back of the bike. I thought I was safe. I wasn’t. Remember that buses have big wing mirrors and how hell that guy didn’t take me out, I’ll never know.

Anyway, when I got home, I sent the evidence to the bus company, complete with the registration number, and to their credit, they came straight back and said that the operations manager would be waiting for the driver when he came back off his shift. I knocked the sound off on the video because this is a family show and you really don’t want to hear the commentary…. ^&%TGF$$£*”$$*&$

What else?

Well big Steve Abraham, the Machine, the Million Mile Man who’s donating his miles to the LCFN challenge, is now eight days into his attempt on the world record for the most miles cycled in 30 consecutive days. I don’t have today’s miles because he’s probably still out there, but to last night, eight days into his adventure, he’d bagged an astonishing 1,730 miles: and a half. That’s an average of 216 miles a day.  And that wee half might matter in twenty two day’s time. The guy is simple amazing. The most I’ve ever done in a day is 237, Manchester to Glasgow, and there was no way I could have got back on a bike the next day. And in any case, I had a broken elbow: I fell off at Carnforth and rode the last 175 miles one handed. Eileidh knows how it is to overcome the pain.

The other big thing that’s happened this week is that I’ve been messing about with my business rule engine. It detects disease by enabling clinical professionals to define what they are looking for, then it generates query sets that go and do the business: all above board and contracted where the opportunity has been recognised and welcomed. This stuff works. Imagine you’re walking around with a condition that might be life changing but you don’t know about it. My rule engine will find it when it’s in the hands of a professionally trained clinical analyst. That’s what my colleagues down in Liverpool do. I’m just their data man, creating the tools to allow them to do their jobs more effectively. That’s 25 years in engineering for you, turning data into knowledge, only to be told that my skills weren’t required any more. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You couldn’t have known it when you released me into the wild, but I’ve never been more motivated, more useful or more effective than I am right now.

When I was a runner 30 years ago back in Cumbernauld, one of my fellow runners coined a phrase “so you’re between injuries then” whenever I was fit. I laughed at it back then but I know exactly what she meant. Roll that scenario forward those thirty years and replace injuries by runners. I’m a coach, and have been (on and off) for all that time, and for the best part of two and a half years, I’ve been between runners. The knowledge is still there, and always will be, but I don’t go seeking athletes anymore. I work on the basis that if opportunity knocks, and someone wants to run a PB at 10K, then I’ll help them to get there. Just like my other rule engine, this one works as well. A week ago, I had no athletes: now I think I may have two. The winter is always a good time to start working with athletes because the first rule of commitment is to set foot out the door. No one ever prospered meaningfully by sitting on their backside.

Longtime lurkers on this site will recall that a year ago, my friend Eleanor committed to riding her bike 500 miles in twelve months, on the back of what I’d been doing on LCFN. But Eleanor’s rules were that she would achieve it organically, by using two wheels for those wee trips, where she used to use four. And you know what? She’s done it: she’s only gone and done it. For a busy, working mum, with a family to keep in order, and a job to keep on top of, this was no easy self imposed challenge. Jane and I have huge respect for what she’s achieved. And now it’s a part of her daily life and those wee miles, here and there, are keeping the Million Mile Challenge scoreboard ticking over. I keep saying it, but every little helps.

And finally…

I’m in Liverpool all of next week so two more days is all I have left on the bike before the railway extravaganza kicks off. Seventeen trains (it would have been eighteen but for a late change of plan) and some very long days lie ahead. Next week’s blog, still to have a theme and a title, unless someone fancies writing it for me, will be out on Thursday night courtesy of the Stella Express.

At least there’s no chance of me being snookered under the yellow.

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