Doing The Double

When I was a kid, a cricket daft kid, the double was a much sought after feat to be savoured: a thousand runs and a hundred wickets in a single cricket season. It wasn’t that uncommon, but as the game focussed more and more on big bash and less on proper cricket, so the opportunity diminished. The last bloke to do the double was Franklyn Stephenson in 1988: however his feat was hugely impressive.

He arrived at the last game of the season with the wickets already in the bag, but was still seeking 210 runs. The only problem was, as a tail end batsman, he’d never scored a century, and he needed either a really big one, or two: no problem: 111 in the first innings followed by 117 in the second sealed the deal. Oh, and just for good measure, he bagged another 11 wickets in the match. That’s what I call doing it in style!

So back in late February, just as I was coming back from a torn calf, I had this daft idea – even to me it seemed daft at the time – that I should try and go for the double: 2222 miles of walking and 2222 miles of cycling in this calendar year. I’d always intended to forward load the walking miles to make the back of the year a bit of a breeze: it’s the way I work. But deciding at what point to actually get on the bike was a bit more problematic. I know for a fact that walking/running and cycling don’t mix: all they do is recharge your batteries for the other sport. Ian Stewart, the 1969 European 5000m champion and Olympic bronze medallist at Munich in 1972, took a sabbatical from running in 1973 and jumped on his bike. He went road racing on two wheels for a year then came back and won the World Cross Country Championship in 1975.

The difference is that he was 26: I’m 66.

What the hell. Age is only a number. I work on the principle that if you’re fit enough, strong enough and inspired enough, then you’re good enough (to give it a go). My inspiration comes from Oscar, Vanessa and Mackenzie. They got me going on a folding bike six years ago.


I flirted with the bike a couple of times back in May: nothing special, just a couple of jaunts that were enough to convince that I wasn’t ready for this. It was just after I’d come back from Australia and I still had the buzz of Wagga School coursing through my veins. The bike went back in the shed.

But I knew deep down that Ride2Cure2 was coming, Australia Take (That) 2 had relit my fire. Did you see what I did there?

However there was no way, back in May that I was going to entertain cycling and running in the same timespace. For a start, the Walk2Cure asking rate was still above 4 miles a day – it doesn’t sound much, but that’s still an hour and a quarter at my pace, every day. I figured that I needed to get the rate down before even contemplating giving it a go.

So I upped the walking miles.

By the end of May, the asking rate was down to three and three quarter miles a day.

By the middle of June, it was three and a third.I figured about then that if I went for it bigtime, I could get it under three before the second anniversary of Puddles’ passing. The anniversary was way more important than any sore legs that might (???) be heading my way, so it was then that I pledged to kickstart Ride2Cure on Eileidh’s anniversary. I needed a symbolic date to give Ride2Cure a sense of purpose and July 1st was it.

The only problem was how I was going to feel this week….

Two people have a clue: Jane lived through LCFN and she witnessed first hand the evolution from absolute beginner to thunder thigh Taylor (not to mention the calves). I bet she still remembers the time we went to Belfast for the weekend in February ’14 and I had to take the ultrasound kit because my quads were basically done for by all the hills, and they would cramp in an instant up for no reason.

The other person who knows is Big Paul. The big man witnessed first hand how legs that hadn’t seen a workload like it, ever, grew stronger, day on day, during that epic second week of Ride2Cure. It was something stupid like six 100 mile days out of ten, when I hadn’t done one for about twenty years. That stuff gives you strength: and confidence.

On Monday I had a physio appointment with Marianne, the girl who once upon a time fixed Jane’s shoulder. Now she’s fixing mine: the one I hurt when I fell off the R2C bike in Jerilderie back in September last year. Her practice has a gig in Stewarton, but because my appointment was booked for July 1st, I went for the practice in Prestwick, simply because it’s 20 miles away. That’s exactly the kind of reasoning that served me so well for five years during LCFN. In the early days, I called it wee Oscar shining my front light on random wayward roads, just to bag extra miles. These days, forearmed with experience, I just head off in the opposite direction from where I’m actually headed. It works a treat.

But none of that is getting away from the fact that my legs are pretty much empty tonight. Today has been an interesting one: four days into R2C2, I managed to spend roughly the same amount of time – just under three hours – on both my walking legs and my cycling legs. The bike legs were empty before I even headed out the door, but a proper breakfast of oily fish, curly kale, tomatoes, spring onions, radishes, cheese, eggs and bread pretty much filled the tank. I can honestly say that as long as I kept my foot off the gas, it was fine. I tried to go flat but that’s impossible round these parts. Wherever you look, it’s a thousand feet of climbing in return for anything decent.

I’d bagged four walking miles at 6am so that got my legs going a wee bit. But see the second walk after I got back off the bike? Me no likey that! It felt like I had big bags of lactic acid bouncing up and down in my quads: not to the extent that I couldn’t walk, but hellish uncomfortable all the same.

I knew it would be like this in transition. I’ve maybe got six weeks or so of this carry-on before I can pretty much ditch the walking and revert to what I do best. I’ve dropped cryptic clues from time to time during Walk2Cure but I haven’t actually announced where I’m at for a very long time. I prefer to hide my progress in steps, or where the schedule says we should all be at this any particular point in time.

Well, let’s sort that. Let’s Proclaim the fact that there are less than 500 miles to walk: and I don’t have to walk another five hundred after that. In fact, it might even be done by the time Jane and I head off to see the Proclaimers in September.

But you know what?

I reckon the bike’s gonna beat the walking to the magical 2222: and that’s because now that I’m back on the bike, I’m fucking back on the bike. No messin’.

Week 1 of Ride2Cure2 is going to be a 200 mile week. Just like it should be. Just like the old days. The original Ride2Cure taught Paul and I that if you give it some whack, your body has a way of responding. Yeah, it may moan a wee bit at the outset, but if you show it who’s boss, then the results will come.

Ride2Cure2 is on the way: there are already less than 24,900 miles to the other end.

I have more available time for this than at any time on LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma, and it’s gonna be a whole heap of painful fun.

The challenge now is to do the double in style: and finish the 2222 miles of walking and cycling on the same day!

I guess it was always going to end like this: not just any old double, but the double!

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