Virtual Reality

This feels quite surreal tonight. I’m virtually in Adelaide, feeling all of the (same) emotions from September 2018 all over again, but with the added bonus of having (also) demolished 10,000 miles since I got back on my bike in July last year.

Let’s deal with the virtual Ride2Cure first.

I knew it would be hard. And it was with some trepidation that I turned the wheels on the first few miles in the garden shed on 17th March. The first time around, Ride2Cure was done and dusted in 15 days. This was a little more leisurely and took 32. But it’s still a healthy average of 43 miles a day. The trick, when you take on something as long as that – and it’s a time honoured phrase – is to take each day as it comes. I remember on the real Stage 3, seeing that Dubbo 500 sign, and it hung like a heavy weight round my neck for a week. You simply cannot allow the long game to get in the way of what you’ve got to do today and tomorrow. That’s really all that counts: repeat.

As each day morphs into the next – Flobberday was what I called them last week – I’ve come to realise that the only way to get through each day is to set a task, something that has to be done, something that has to be achieved, just so that you don’t become a blob. Today isn’t yesterday, so why do the same square root of fuck all that characterised it? That’s the challenge: to make every day count.

So as I’ve been trundling my way across the virtual outback, I’ve been trying to work out (a) how long lockdown is gonna last, and how many lockdowns we’re likely to see over the next twelve months (b) what effect social distancing is going to have on Ride2Cure2 if I elect to go back out on the road once the lockdown restrictions are over?

Let me answer those questions in reverse order…

As folk get ever more narky during this crisis, especially on social media, the last thing I want is to undo all the good work of the last seven years. I don’t want folk shouting obscenities and I don’t want folk going on the local Facebook group saying that “That bloke on the bike has been out every *^$%&0 day this week.” It’s not worth the hassle. Secondly, once the next lockdown comes in, I’ll be back in the shed anyway (re-read the explanation above). I made the choice to go there and I can live quite happily with it just so long as I have a daily objective.

And that brings me to what happens next? If you’ve ever watched a Question Of Sport, you’ll know it’s always a belter of a challenge. This one is no different.

I’m planning on virtual riding round the coast of Ireland, taking in wee every coastal road. If the virtual Ride2Cure was a challenge, let me tell you that this is going to be next level. Don’t be fooled by the coastal route: anywhere near the coast is hilly. I did think of taking on the virtual circuit of Arran first – 56 miles and thousands upon thousands of feet of climbing – but that can wait. Ireland gets the nod.

I haven’t actually calculated how far this is, because the coastal nooks and crannies will add loads of extra miles on every stage. But I’m reckoning on something close to 4,000 miles. At 30 miles a day, I’m cool with the fact that the clocks will have changed again by the time this gig’s out the way.

And another reason why the Virtual Tour D’Ireland appeals is because of wee Oscar. ‘Nuff said.

These are strange days indeed.

The jigsaws are out. Jigsaws that we haven’t done in years. Jigsaws that we’ve never done because we were all jigsawed out. But beware: jigsaws are the curse of many a late night. “One last piece” was many a call at ten o’clock while some poor bugger eventually crawled into bed at three.

Cards is another one. We are a household of three: Jane, Joe and moi. At Jane’s insistence, and it’s a good one, we play cards for an hour every other night. Drink at the table, hardly a spoken word as each hand unfolds, the Taylors do a mean game of cards as long as it’s competitive and there’s a winner. But no fallouts. We don’t do fallouts, and anyway, as I said at the top of the show, there’s always tomorrow and another chance to turn it all around, for better or for worse.

The SNOMED-CT project is still coming along, albeit at a snail’s pace. One of things that’s important when you’re designing new stuff on the hoof is to allow time for ideas to get bedded in: to see where each idea leads in terms of what additional functionality might come next. What I learnt yesterday is that one of the Primary Care system providers has a whole stack of COVID-19 searches that can help to point the way forward in a way that’s of benefit in terms of relating COVID-19 to other health conditions. It’s all well and good looking up the family tree of this condition and that condition, but at some point, you need to be able to relate across the way in order to join everything together. It’s like designing a jigsaw with clinical terms, but without the picture. That’s why it takes a while. But the beauty of what I’m thinking is that this thing, when it’s complete, will not just work for COVID-19, it’ll work for any health condition that you care to mention. So for example, if there’s a relationship so bbetween Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Failure, this will find it and document it. When I’m not on the bike, or sat with the cat on my lap, that’s my passion.

Going back to the bike, I can’t finish this week without relating to Ride2Cure2 reaching 10,000 miles. The first 10,000 miles of LCFN took fifteen months: this taken less than ten. The LCFN 10K was marked by Vanessa and I walking out at Celtic Park versus Inverness. This one’s going to celebrated by virtual cycling round Ireland. It’s taken 292 stages without missing a day. All of those winter storms: Ride2Cure2 beat them all. And those 292 stages have come in at an average of over 34 miles a day. That’s now up near the level where LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma was operating before I went to Australia. And then there’s the small matter of 363,000ft of climbing to go along with the miles. The average ascent is near enough 1,250ft of climbing every day, or as I used to say in the old days, Ben Nevis twice a week.

Total time on the bike this time around’s sitting at 815 hours at an average of almost three a day. The calories burnt are at 469,000, which if you convert it back into pints of real ale, is 1,876, or six pints a day. I quite like that stat, not that I’ve knocked back quite as many as that.

Like I said at the top of the show, these are surreal times. Historians will look back at 2020 with a view quite dissimilar to anything that’s gone before. Right now is a time to redefine your objectives and think about how you can get through this in one piece.

Tomorrow I plan on riding a bespoke virtual tour of Adelaide, then bolting the Killer Mile on the back end of it. The KM’s a near 600ft climb up a measured one mile course at Mow Cop near Stoke on Trent. It was a beast when I did it as a runner 35 years ago, but I’ve never done it on a bike. What worries me most about it? The 30% gradient at the ¾ mile mark. That bit is going to be absolutely hellish: so bring it on!

This is an unreal world we’re living in right now. But one thing is keeping Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma on the road: virtual reality.

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