Banksy On A Bike

You know that feeling you get when the stewardess comes on the intercom and announces “would all passengers return to their seats and fasten their safety belts. We are ten minutes to landing…” : it’s a sense of “of course we’ll get down okay, and it’ll be great to get off this plane…

Well I wouldn’t exactly call it a panic attack, but this morning, as soon as I woke, with wee Dennis headbutting my chin, my first thought was “we’re flying out to Australia in three weeks!!!!

Nervous? You bet.

Excited? You bet.

Ready for this? You bet.

Ride2Cure has been five long years in the making, five years in which LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma has been the apprenticeship for the adventure of a lifetime. This isn’t about a bloke riding a bike two thousand kilometres across the Australia outback, this is about raising awareness of neuroblastoma and funding for new, ground breaking research. Ride2Cure is 100% not about fluffy stuff. Ride2 Cure is about the kids of today not becoming the parents of the next generation of kids diagnosed with the disease. And that can only come about through research. Neuroblastoma Australia help to fund research into the disease at the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia.

I know in my heart that I’m fast approaching something that has been meant to happen (it’s just that I didn’t know) since the moment I first clapped eyes on the Vanessa Riddle Appeal and the WeeOscar4Life campaign. Ride2Cure is my calling: I had a pension bloke at my house (at my invitation) at the back end of last year and something he said will live with me until I lose my marbles: “the years between 65 and 75 are when you need to do stuff”. The unwritten rule in that is that past 75, you’re in the departure lounge when it comes to doing real stuff, like riding a bike for 2000km.

My time is now and it’s limited.

Regular followers of the LCFN blog will recall that I set the end of the LCFN ride at 44,444 miles in order to allow it morph into the 2,222km of the Ride2Cure: and it’s on schedule. Bang: on: schedule. LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma will end 609 miles from now. Will I miss it? Of course I will, but only in a non-masochistic kind of a way. Five Scottish winters have taken their toll, especially the 2017/18 vintage, and I’ve no desire to smash my aging body through a sixth at 200 miles a week: this will be my 30th 200 mile week in a row. No, I didn’t expect to do that at the start of the year but then how many parents of two year olds back on Hogmanay expected to be living a life from hell six months later? Since I started that double hundred run, over fifty families in the UK and a further twenty in Australia have been ravaged by neuroblastoma. Ride2Cure aims to try and bin that statistic forever, even if we don’t manage it in a single year.

So with LCFN drawing to a close, and my training for R2C ditto, I’ve had some hard decisions to make. I cannot, and will not, walk away from neuroblastoma awareness raising. Until Vanessa got ill, I’d never heard of the disease, and until the second wave of fundraising for wee Oscar, it didn’t twig in my brain how significant a bastard of a disease this is. I know now: I’ve cried at three funerals in the past twelve months.

So when I was out on the road a couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about the LCFN legacy: what can I leave for future generations of cyclists? What message can I put out there for other people to relate to after I can’t physically do this anymore?

And while I was out yesterday, demolishing all the pensioner segments around Dunlop on Strava, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I’ll change my name…

For Gawd knows how long, it feels like forever, I’ve been Von Schiehallion on social media. I’m Von Schiehallion on Twitter and I’m Von Schiehallion on Strava. The legend goes back to the Caley Thistle Highland March when, around 2008, I wanted to bag Schiehallion the mountain en route from Kenmore to Dalnacaroch Lodge. It was only adding an hour to my day and as it was there, just over the fence behind the lodges at the top of the Schiehallion road, I just wanted/needed to do it. Again, it was a calling. So I jumped the fence and bagged it. A couple of years later, while we were parked up with beer in the bunkhouse at Laggan Bridge ahead of the penultimate stage in a snowstorm over the Corrieyairick Pass, the marchers began tossing daft posh names around: I wanted to be Baron Somebody, and thinking back to my childhood and kids’ comics I thought that if I’m gonna be a self appointed Baron, then it needs to have Von after it: Baron Von Schiehallion was born. Then when I got on Twitter and Strava, I dropped the Baron bit and kept Von Schiehallion. There endeth today’s history lesson.

So then I thought, “if I’m gonna change my name on social media, then it needs to be meaningful: it needs to have an impact…”

So what have I been doing these last three weeks, while I’ve been winding down the endurance work in order to home in on the magic 44444 miles? I’ve been upping the quality, or to be more precise in practical terms, smashing Strava segments within ten miles of Stewarton. But I’m choosy: I’m not remotely interested in the fast downhill stuff. I want the uphill stuff: I want the painful  stuff. The legacy of LCFN morphing into R2C will be that this mad pensioner fae Ayrshire went around the place slapping the name Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma on the top of Strava leaderboards. Yesterday I had a good rummage: I’ve got 125 of the pensioner records.  This is what it says on every one of those leaderboards:

  1. Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma…

The guys who I’ve knocked off the top will be grandads: guys who’ve been cycling for half their lives, guys who are probably the crème de la crème of club cycling in West Central Scotland. And now this bloke has turned up, who they don’t know used to be a 31 minute 10K runner, with thighs like tree trunks, and he’s rewriting the record books.

All in the name of neuroblastoma awareness, so that by the time I’m done, there won’t be a cyclist round these parts who hasn’t heard of the disease.

And in Australia too…

Because I’m planning on destroying a whole bunch of Strava segments down under. There’s a 6 mile, 1750ft climb at the start of day 2 of the Ride2Cure that has a pensioner record of 53 minutes. That’s going. Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma is going to own that mountain.

And so it goes on. When I come back from Oz, I’m planning on spreading my wings, mile by mile, zone by zone, county by county, mopping up Strava segments and plonking Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma at the top of every uphill pensioner leaderboard.

Do you remember that classic scene in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid where they’re getting followed by the tracker guy and the cavalry, and Robert Redford looks back down into the valley, sees the dust and utters the immortal phrase “Who are those guys?

Well I’m a man on a mission: a new mission.

I can’t realistically attack King Of The Mountain records, because at age 65, they are the domain of the young team. But I do have actually four to my name, and hard earned they were. No, what I’m after, in the years that lie ahead before I can’t do this anymore, is to slap Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma on top of a thousand pensioner leaderboards. Strava will never have seen anything like it. Yes, my assault will be targeted: yes, I will be going places with the sole purpose of doing stuff under cover, but it’s in order to get the locals posing that same question that Butch Cassidy asked, but in the singular…

Who is that guy?

Banksy is Banksy and I guess only Banksy knows who Banksy is.

But the world of cycling on Strava is about to find out that Banksy has an accomplice: he sneaks into your neighbourhood, he climbs your hills, takes the pain and smashes your segments, then he sneaks away again…

Banksy on a bike.

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