At the beginning of this year, I knew just one soul – personally – with cancer. Now I know four. Although none of the four are children, the message is still the same: none of us can afford to take tomorrow for granted, and perhaps that’s a message that each of us can take into 2020.
It was about this time last year that I jumped on the scales and discovered what a wee fat bastard I’d become through my own slothfulness. Okay, I needed, some might say deserved a rest after LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma (LCFN) and Ride2Cure (R2C) but at the end of the day, that rest underpinned everything that I’d become at the end of 2018.
However I wasn’t ready to get back on the bike, and certainly not in the middle of winter. Been there, done that, didn’t feel the need was pretty much the message.
And that’s why I started walking. It was just about this time, a week or so before Christmas, that I set foot out the door. I was still carrying a knee injury from Ride2Cure and my progress was slow: role reversal when I was out with Jane and it was her that was having to hold back for me. I always got a row for being the one striding out front: now I couldn’t keep up.
But that week of walking spawned something, and Walk2Cure was born.
For me it was a simple long term challenge: to walk 2222 miles in this calendar year, which works out at 10K a day: 6.1 miles a day: but I knew back then that this was going to be no walk in the park.
But it wasn’t me who made Walk2Cure a success. It was Andy and Wendy Fisher, it was Marc and Karen Martin, it was Tommy Melly, and it was my long time work colleague Les Cullen – punted by SPX on the same day as me – who took this thing by the scruff of the neck and made it what it was: a slogathon.
As I write, five of the team have completed the challenge, and the remaining couple of guys will have it done in time for the bells (or should that read the Bells?)
With the whole team supporting Solving Kids Cancer, Walk2Cure has provided an interesting (at times) ongoing commitment to self improvement. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for Team Fisher whose route from home with the dog is along an unlit main road boasting the narrowest of pavements with encroaching hedges. What Andy and Wendy have done is nothing short of remarkable. Then there’s Marc, who’s working away half the time, who’s managed to stay out the pub long enough to keep himself on schedule, while back at HQ, Karen has been quietly working away on her own, building up a real head of steam. Tommy’s Tommy: claims he’s no’ a legend when the rest of the world knows the exact opposite. Tommy’s gone about his business with his normal diligence and bingo, there’s the result. And then, last but not least, there’s Les…
Les used to go walking at lunchtime long before I did, but then the pair of us caught the bug of dumping the motor further and further away from the work to grab walking and thinking miles either side of a day in IT development. As I mentioned earlier, Les and I got our P45’s on the same day back in 2016: surplus to requirements of the corporate giant. When Les got a job at Glasgow University, the walking habit didn’t initially TUPE across with him. That had to wait until the fascination of what was happening across the Walk2Cure community piqued his interest. Les has been playing catchup for much of the year, courtesy of some old war wounds holding him back at the beginning, but old habits die hard and once he started saving on fuel and investing in shoe leather, the ole fella got his mojo back.
A more diverse bunch of folk you could not wish to meet, but to a man and a woman, the Walk2Cure team have proved the old adage that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Chapeau to the lot of you!
My time on the team has been very much overshadowed by the bike. From the moment I came back from Australia in May, Ride2Cure2 has been destined to take over where LCFN left off. Isabella McInerney and Anna Meares were collectively responsible for that. I had this notion that when I got back on my bike on July 1st – a date chosen to mark the second anniversary of Princess Puddles’ passing – it would be good to double up and bag 2222 walking miles along with 2222 cycling miles.
From the outside, it must have seemed like madness to set such a goal. Three, four or maybe even five months in transition where the two disciplines were gonna be sitting (or competing) side by side wasn’t a prospect that filled me with joy. But you make your bed and you lie on it.
I knew as early as the middle of July that it was only a matter of time before the bike overtook the walking shoes, and that duly came about before the end of August. Although there was a dip in form, and to a degree motivation through September and October, Ride2Cure2 has kicked on bigstyle with the arrival of shit winter weather. Perhaps I shouldn’t have doubted myself a couple of months back when it was actually the prospect of winter that was doing the damage…
Show me yours and I’ll show you mine is basically the way it’s panned out. I’m protecting a run of consecutive days on the bike stretching right back to the first day, like my own life depended on it. It’s the currency of commitment to those who are fighting adversity through cancer. It’s my way of saying “see this shit that you’re throwing at me: well have some back. I’ll be seeing you on the other side.”
In the last two weeks, I’ve been out on the road (on various days) at 10pm, 11pm, 12am, 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am and 6am: just to defeat the incoming weather. Two named storms: no days lost.
One hundred and seventy two days and counting. I did not expect that. I’m really not sure what I expected (of myself) back in July, but it certainly wasn’t that. And at an average of 33 miles a day. I could have imagined 33 miles a day by maybe cycling five days out of seven, like it was when I was backwards and forwards to Glasgow. But every day since the beginning of July? I know that’s a stat that sets Ride2Cure2 apart from everything that has gone before. And here’s another one to go with it: The most miles I’ve ever cycled in December stands at 718 back in 2014. This month is on course to go very close to 1100.
That in part has been fuelled by another desire that’s burning brightly: to achieve 6000 miles in the first six months of Ride2Cure2. That’s double what LCFN did six years ago, when I was (only) sixty. I’ve only ever ridden 6K in six consecutive miles once, in the lead up to the ride across Australia, and 7000 in seven months has never happened.
I’ve long since given up badgering people for sponsorship: that avenue of fundraising died a death about four years ago. But what I’ve discovered is that the legacy of riding 51,000 miles, and all of the wee adventures that go with it, has become a storyline in its own right, and it’s by telling that wee tale, with pictures, that I can best attract a whole new audience to neuroblastoma awareness, which in turn leads to more support for research into a cure. That’s how HMP Shotts happened, and it’s also how Nether Robertland Primary School happened. That’s the future of R2CN fundraising.
2019 has taught me that Cancer is more than a star sign: but then Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma is more than a bike ride.