End Of Term Report

I apologise in advance if this reads a bit like an end of year School report, but that’s basically what it is. The family’s back on Tiree, just as we were a year ago when I bagged 202 miles on a folding bike. I didn’t know it at the time but those miles were destined to have a profound impact on the following 11 months…

So much has happened: Wee Oscar, Vanessa and MacKenzie were in there from the start but now you can add the amazing Jimmy Harrington and the fighting spirit of Nathalie Traller to the mix. LifeCycle has become so much more than just a bloke on a bike. I kind of feel that there are people out there who ‘get it’ and I share their inspiration and motivation. What I’ve really come to realise is that there are people all over the world, a community if you like, all doing the same things, sharing the same vision and fighting the same battles in the name of children’s cancer. I am not alone.

What is truly remarkable however is the way this holiday, this time off from the 5am starts and all the big hills, has crept up on me. In this game, experience and reflection are everything. I still vividly remember setting off from Motherwell with Dunkant at 10:15pm on a Wednesday night at the start of May and thinking “next stop Carrbridge, 165 miles away”. Scary? Yeah, sort of. Daunting? Most definitely. But you don’t get anywhere in life by looking at those challenges and thinking “Nah, I think I’ll give that one a miss”. Not only was Motherwell to Carrbridge a celebration of mind over body over logic, it was the springboard for everything that has happened since.

I read on Twitter this morning that Graham Spiers, sports journalist for the Herald newspaper, and a virtual next door neighbour in that he lives in a farmhouse just a few miles away outside Dunlop, had cycled back from a stint at the Commonwealth Games yesterday. “It nearly killed me” were his exact words. Graham, Neuroblastoma kills children every day of the year , not just in this country but across the globe. Nathalie Traller is desperately seeking therapy in the United States, denied to her only because she’s only 15, yet that same therapy is available over the age of 18. Nathalie doesn’t have three years. And over in Australia, Jimmy Harrington, fresh from his 11,000 mile walk round the entire coastline of that vast continent, is now planning to host a music festival in Adelaide in October in aid of Brainchild. These people are my new inspiration, the people who refuse to just sit back and let the world just pass them by. So Graham, I invite you to get on your bike and join me for a week of LifeCycle: then return to your newspaper and put the experience into words: and I’ll eat my hat if you take me up on the offer…

We bought the bikes to Tiree but I promised myself that this would be a proper holiday and that there would be no repeat of last year’s daily laps of the island. For a start this is a chance to let the body recover for a few days. I’ve been carrying a few different injuries for the past few weeks and because of the schedule that’s coming up in a few weeks’ (more of which nearer the time…), time off the bike is really important.

It’s kind of ironic that we came away from Glasgow just as the Commonwealth Games were ramping up. I watched the Marathon this morning and marvelled not just at the scenery but at the way the people of Glasgow came out in huge numbers to cheer on the athletes. In the Women’s race, Scotland was represented by Hayley Haining. Watching Hayley took me back to the Carluke Highland Games in what must have been 1985 or 86. We had a bunch of our Cumbernauld kids entered in the middle distance (800m) races and our Junior Girls were literally blown away by a wee 13 year old from Nith Valley AC. In a two lap race, that wee girl won by the length of the home straight. That was the first time I saw Hayley Haining. Because Nith Valley were a Division 1 club at the time while we were Division 4, I only got to watch wee Hayley at championships and Highland Games but 20 years later, I caught up with her again at the Great Scottish Run. She’s just finished first Scot in the women’s race and I reminded her of that day at Carluke. She smiled and remembered fondly of her upbringing in the grass roots of the sport. Hayley Haining is a true legend and a great ambassador for Scottish Athletics. It was also nice to reflect on that race and that day at Carluke with John Morrison, the best of our young crop at Cumbernauld back in those days. Morrison, as he was known back then, was a decent 800m runner in his own right, a sub 2 minute youth in his prime, and it was great craic to reminisce over the old days on Facebook while the Marathon was in progress. Morrison, you’re a legend too mate, but a whole host of different reasons…

So what of the future?

When I set out on August 19th last year, I had a notional idea that I might manage 20,000 miles at a push. But through a long, dark, cold, wet winter, push came to shove and I upped the target to 25K. And egged on by Wullie Broon and a host of Bampots, I started dreaming of greater things. The week leading up to the first anniversary is going to bring up 8,000 miles and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realise that 8,000 x 4 years is way in excess of 25K miles. At the current rate of progress, LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma is going to be done in the late summer of 2016, eighteen months ahead of schedule. Then what?

Suggestions via comments on the blog, for this is just a wee End Of Term report….

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