A Retirement Home

On a normal LifeCycle day, I play by two rules:

To consider biking to work, I need to be able to get out of the street without falling off. If I can do that, then I’ll go A77 if I can get the bike up the first steep hill out of Stewarton without the back wheel spinning to a standstill. Ice in the dark at 5:30am is a silent enemy.

So imagine my joy these last three weeks when I’ve been waking and looking out of the window to survey a scene of white, day after day. It matters not a jot that I haven’t had to venture out up the Cutstraw to check out the state of the back road up past Billy Bowie’s place. On all but three days since my op, which was three weeks ago yesterday, I couldn’t have got the bike out of the street anyway, let alone up that first hill. That’s the territory in which I’ve been recuperating and working from home. I reported last week that I’d lost only 120 real miles through having my operation. That’s still the case seven days on and I’m overjoyed by it. And see next week: I’m on holiday, using up what’s left of my annual leave so that’s even more blank days parked ahead of the long hot summer (see what I did there).

Being off certainly gives you time to think, and to reflect. I received the sad news last Friday that a guy I worked with in my early days at Weir, who left to pursue a different career in IT in the late nineties, collapsed and died in the street. He could only have been in his forties. I wrote late last year about living each day like it’s your last and while it’s easy to live today like you’re planning for tomorrow, I guess sometimes it’s important to let that go and live for today: and give it all you’ve got in case tomorrow never comes.

I’m grateful to my Aussie pals (you all know who you are) for a lot of things, not least the fact that just about every one of them seems to have been bred from the up and at ‘em mould. I like that. Tell it like it is and play hard. Well one of the girls posted late on Tuesday night our time that it was World Cancer day. Not a moment missed to proclaim to the world at 6am local time that this was the day when we should all remember those who are suffering from this dreadful disease. It took my dad when he was just 48. A workaholic who biked across Birmingham to his work when he first got married, he just felt unwell one day and took a timeout from work on doctors’ orders. They opened him up to have a poke about on the Thursday and he was gone the following Tuesday. I was sat at his desk, doing his job, amongst his pals the day he died. It was a job he got me for the summer and this was my third year at it. The first year I sold car tyres; the second year I sold motorbike tyres; then the third year they gave me the big stuff: earthmovers and big diggers. That day has lived with me for over 40 years. I remember it like it was yesterday…

And on so called World Cancer Day, the BBC reported a story that new figures suggest that 50% of people will get cancer at some point in their lives. That is one scary statistic. I would strongly suggest (my opinion only I might add) that much of it is lifestyle induced, and the fact that people are living longer also adds to the chances. It’s a bit like watching Aston Villa: eventually, they are bound to score a goal.

But the difference between childhood cancer and adult cancer is stark: at least the adults get to have a childhood. For the children who encounter neuroblastoma, childhood is anything but normal. That’s why LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma matters and why all of us on this journey want to see the back of this awful disease.

So, how’s my recovery going?

Well I’m happy to report that I can sit bolt upright for longer (all of five minutes!) so long as I don’t crease my abdomen. The scar is still some way from being properly healed, even after three weeks, so I suspect it’ll be a little time yet before I’ll be tugging and pulling at it with any harsh physical demands (when I say a little time, I’m hoping another three weeks max of course). The conditions for getting back on the bike are no excruciating pain and no lingering redness at the site of the scar. Time is a great healer allegedly but I just wish it would get a move on. It’s gonna be light at night at this rate…

It’s hard to believe that this time last year, I was still clattering up and down the road on an old mountain bike with brakes that used to seize regularly and gears that had a mind of their own. That’s the muck of the A77 for you. It was about that time that a chap in a bike shop told me that the optimum number of bikes that a bloke should own is n+1, where n is the number he owns just now. The follow on from that conversation was that in March of last year, I did indeed upgrade to n+1 and that’s the workhorse that’s seen me through the last 9,000 miles. However I’ve had that same conversation with another chap who knows about bikes and he is saying the same thing to me, but with a different slant. He thinks I need to return to the days of speed and stop being a fuddy duddy. Fully laden, my tourer comes in at over 30lb, which is kinda heavy once you put me onboard too, but I’ve always reckoned that the extra weight is good for stability on the (many) wild days that the Fenwick Muir has to offer. But the tourer, less than 12 months old, has seen four chains, three rear cassettes, two front chain rings and two rear derailleurs so I feel kinda justified in looking at my options. I keep seeing this slogan coming up on my Twitter feed that says “Make the Rest Of Your Life The Best Of Your Life”. Well maybe now is a good time to have some fun and make the rest of this bike ride a speedo experience. Father Birthday will be visiting again in March so I shall converse with my mentor…

To change tack completely, I had my annual performance review today with my boss, who works in the States. Because we’re a global operation, everything is done by conferencing and instant messaging, even to the point where we can share screens across continents. It’s a very slick way of doing business. At the end of the review, we got round to discussing the future and I explained that I only have three years to go to the UK retirement age. But I’m going to be a young 65 in three years’ time and no way will my brain be ready to switch off from all the creative stuff. So I broached the subject of maybe working on past my normal retirement age on reduced hours. I mention it because see those 25,000 miles….

And finally this week, I spotted the list of declared runners for the 2015 Grand National on Wednesday. I was lucky enough to back the winner last year, Pineau De Re, the winnings from which went straight into the LifeCycle Pot. Yes, I’ll be backing it again, but my real focus is on three horses from Ireland: Gallant Oscar, Oscar Time and Owega Star. At the current time, they’re all being offered at odds of 40/1 plus so I’ll be whacking the token pounds on early doors. But the bet I’m really interested in is the 1-2-3 in the frame, as in all three named horses to place, in any order. I’m not a great authority on betting returns but even if each horse is offered at 10/1 to finish in the first three, then the return would be over a grand.  And if the wee man’s up there watching, and weaving his wee bit of magic, “I’d love it, just love it” (Kevin Keegan speak) if those three Irish horses run well and do the business.

And that’s it for another week. A week of sitting about doing not much except passing the time, doing a bit of work from home and waiting patiently for the family to come home with a cat on my lap:

A retirement home?

Not likely…

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