In the aftermath of another immensely challenging week on the road, from somewhere have come The Ten Commandments Of LifeCycle. I honestly don’t know where the ideas come from, but in a week that was characterised by being physically tired and emotionally drained for the most part, the idea of the 10C planted itself in my brain during a hailstorm on the A77 on the way home from work. This just doesn’t get any easier, and despite the scoreboard continuing to tick over at an extraordinary rate, the results are coming by largely hanging on in there.
1 – Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself
At the end of a winter that seems to have been going forever (which is only partially true, but as summer was all but done when LifeCycle started, it kind of feels that way), it is really, really easy to get down when all you want is a bit of warmth, sunshine and calmness. Day after day of lashing rain, driving wind, wet kit, freezing hands and a messed up bike do leave you wondering “when is this ever going to end”? I’ve felt like that on more than one occasion this week with Tuesday being one of the true low points of the whole winter: an utterly miserable ride home. But only one person is responsible for it being like this, and only one person (or maybe two) can get me through it. However if you’ve never seen people having fun in what they do, check this out…
The vision of that place never fails to pick me up.
2 – Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You
There are a lot of negative people out there, people for whom the glass is way below half empty. And it’s true: the LifeCycle glass is only 3705/25000 full, or 85% empty if you prefer it that way. But the way round it is to surround yourself with people who share the same drive, the same passion, the same desire as you do, to achieve the things that are important to them. Share their energy, dig the vibe, and let a little bit of it rub off on you: and let it happen every week.
You know who you are. You are the people who are doing the same things as me, but different. You are the people who never give up, the people who go out in the cold and the rain. I thank you and I really appreciate having you in my corner.
3 – Remember, There’s A Better Day Around The Next Corner
One of the things I love about the A77, and particularly the trip home on the bad days, is the way it plays tricks with your mind. A headwind here is a cross wind there: a wind coming in from 2 o’clock here is 9 o’clock there. It’s all to do with the geography of the road. And so it is with LifeCycle. If I believed that every day was going to be a ride in the park, I’d be a fool. It’s never like that. For every brilliant, effervescent day, there are two or three stinkers. For every day when it’s sunny and warm, there are two when it’s cold and wet. That’s the territory than comes with the package: that’s what I signed up for. Loop back to Commandment 1, deal with it and move on. Tomorrow is another day.
4 – Give Your Body The Respect It Deserves
I owe my body. I owe it big style for everything I’ve achieved, however small and insignificant through to everything that, at the time that I did it, was off the scale of possibility. And it just keeps on delivering. So I have to remember that without my body, and the state that it’s in, there would be no LIfeCycle, not yesterday, not today, and more importantly not tomorrow and the day after that. That old chestnut about a stitch in time saving nine has never been more true than during the period that I’ve ramped up the miles since the turn of the year. Last week’s blog Ultrasound and Intervals pretty much summed up the thin dividing line between being on the bike and being on the bus, and I vow never to disregard the fact that this ride remains the end result of everything working as one: break a hand, can’t brake; do my back, can’t ride; tweak a calf, can’t pedal. Everything has to work as one… and Omega 3 is the secret ingredient that underpins it all.
5 – Rest Is Important
It didn’t take me long to realise how candles don’t burn well at both ends. I wish I could manage 8 or 9 hours sleep a night but I can’t: too much to do and too many distractions. But I can get by (just) on 6 or 7. Rest is important because my work is important and my work demands 100% creativity and attention. You don’t get that when you’re tired…
It took me the best part of three months to adjust to being on the bike for 90 minutes every 12 hours, day in and day out. When I’m working, I’m out of the house for 13 hours, which leaves little time for anything else. Wake, ride, eat, work, eat, ride, eat, sleep: repeat. That pretty much sums it up. Not exactly the party animal I never was anyway, but I have learned through adjustment that sometimes I just have to take myself off to bed when the action is still in full swing, and prepare to tomorrow: and the day after that, and the day after that. 638 of them…
6 – Don’t Work Too Hard
Wow, it seems a long time ago now since I used Strava and chased records. I stopped using it because my phone was getting wet on occasions when I configured the app away from the house but mainly because I realised that chasing ranking positions on the leaderboard was at odds with what I was really trying to do. So I stopped racing myself and contented myself instead with the notion that getting there at all is infinitely more important than getting there five minutes ago.
If I may take that a step further, I now regard red traffic lights, for so long my enemy on both two wheels and four, as a chance to take a timeout. Revisit Commandments 4 and 5. Everything in moderation and nothing to extreme, except the miles of course.
Chill: and not just in an easterly wind at 6am.
7 – Look Back With Pride: Look Forward With Anticipation
Right now, the best spreadsheet I have is LifeCycle Miles. I think of it as my training diary on speed, except there is none (revisit Commandment 6). What is absolutely fantastic about LM is that it doesn’t lie. It just tells the story, day on day, of every LifeCycle mile (without the weather I might add), and forward projects, with optimism, what’s going to happen in the future.
For example: it says that at the end of September, after six weeks on the road, I was averaging 29.6 miles on the days that I cycled. By October, that was up to 31.2. November it was 31.8, December 32.2, January 32.9 and now at the end of February the daily average stands at 33.4. It is a record of falling out of bed at daft o’clock into laid out clothes, of just getting out there and doing what needs to be done, and at the end of the day, of the reality of this project.
And when I look at those same stats averaged out over elapsed days to include all the ones when I didn’t ride, I see a good story: September 17.9, November 19.2, February 19.1 (stagnation is only the result of two weeks off at Christmas). When I started out, the requirement was to bang in just over 450 miles a month: I’m currently averaging 620.
And the projection: through 5,000 miles in May, through 10,000 miles before the turn of the year (big objective!!!), 15,000 miles in September 2015 before hitting the home straight and 20K in April 2016.
The motivational power of a plan. It takes away the worry and the guesswork. Just do what it says, and keep doing it.
8 – Take Each Day As It Comes
Okay, so I have a plan. Now park it, at least for today. I could fall off, get ill, have to work silly hours and be too tired, or the bike could have a major mechanical.
What I’m saying is that I can only do today what I can do today. Tomorrow is another day and I have no influence over what might happen to blow me off course. When it happens, I will deal with it, but for now, I just deal with what needs to be done (today), and that’s usually another 18 miles in a few hours time.
Revisit Commandment 5… Wake, ride, eat, work, eat, ride, eat, sleep: repeat.
9 – Don’t Ever Assume That Anyone Else Is Interested
I can count on my fingers and toes the number of people who I consider to be truly, spiritually by my side. I know who they are and they know who they are: they are the people who comment and ask about my aches and strains, they are the people who like, they are the people who share, they are the people who retweet, and most importantly they are the people who support the LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma project. For that is what this is really about. 25,000 miles is just my way of divorcing myself from the hard work that goes with fundraising over four long years.
10 – Never Give Up Hope
And finally, the reason why LifeCycle will succeed. Because anyone who has ever known me knows that I was born without the Giving Up gene. Revisit Commandments 1-9 in an infinite loop, then tag on the end that I don’t do giving up, not without a feckin good reason.
25,000 miles will happen.
£100,000 may not.
I can only do what I can do, and ride my bike for 3 hours every day. I will be 61 in a couple of weeks time and I refuse to believe that once I get round a full calendar year without missing a scheduled day, I will fail to circumnavigate the earth in commute miles then do a hundred more just for good measure.
The Ten Commandments Of LifeCycle will see this job through to the end….