Imagine

Imagine being out before seven

It’s easy if you try

No motors to annoy us

No chance of a long lie

Imagine all the people

Cycling for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no cancer

I know it’s hard to do

Nothing to fund or fight for

And no research, too

Imagine all the children

Living life as they please… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will ride as one

Imagine no obsessions

I wonder if you can

No need for drips or chemo

A motherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Caring all around the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will ride as one.

I don’t know why that just happened. I was out there today, battling into a raging headwind, and trying to work out what route to do. It’s been a bit of a shit week: I had back wheel punctures on both Monday and Tuesday, then on Wednesday morning, when I had to get out early because I had an online meeting at my normal bike time, it absolutely pished it down: soaked to the skin. Yesterday was a nice day, albeit as windy as hell, and today I found myself doing almost exactly the same route to the seaside just so I could come back on the wind: with a sore leg.

Actually I do know where the John Lennon remix came from. When I got to Torranyard today, I’d already got 7 miles in the bag courtesy of a loop all around Stewarton before I left town. So I reckoned that all I had to do to bag another 30 (that’s now eleven in a row by the way: the record’s twenty eight) was to keep going for another 8 miles, maybe add a mile for contingency then turn around. And it was at that point, when I was thinking that, that I thought this…

Imagine if I had a make believe job in Saltcoats, that I could cycle to every day. Then imagine, when I got there, that they said “not much happening today, take the day off”, so I’d just cycle home again. There’s merit in this madcap idea. Saltcoats is into the wind, as in into a mad, mad prevailing south westerly wind 90% of the time. Payback is on the return leg. But not only that, Saltcoats is home to that stretch of coastline that they like to feature on the news whenever the weather is really wild in the winter: the bit where the sea crashes over the railway line on Reporting Scotland. Well between the sea wall and the railway line is the bike path. I fancy a bit of that come the winter.

Something else happened this week that got me thinking back. I found an old blog from January 2014 while I was rummaging for something, when I’d only been on the road for six months, and in it, I was trying to guess when I’d hit my original 25,000 mile target and stop riding. If I tell you that the story was entitled “They Think It’s All Over: It Will Be in July 2017”, you’ll probably understand why this particular piece caught my attention. That projection was based on averaging 140 miles a week from then until my retirement next year. Well a couple of things have sabotaged that idea: I got made redundant two years (and one day) before my retirement date, and the work I’ve been doing since I left the old place has been so inspiring that I’ve given up any idea of chucking it next year anyway. I love my life just the way it is. I’d happily keep going for another ten years.

Anyway Eleanor, a good friend of LCFN for many a long day, and a mummy back in the days when Finn and Joe played cricket for Kilmarnock as kids, commented on that post “that’s how things looked then. Shows the value of setting goals then smashing right through them to raise then bar further and higher. Hope you are planning a “compare and contrast” blog on this”.

Well with the four year anniversary just three weeks away, now seems as good a time as any.

I looked back in Strava to July 2013 to rediscover what it was that set the scene for LCFN. I looked at Wednesday 31st July. It reads “Commute to the bus. Sunny. 13C. No wind. 4.6 miles”. Then coming home it reads “Commute home. J24 MTB. No wind. Cloudy, 19C. 15.0 miles”. J24 MTB is the folding mountain bike, branded as Joe 24, that I was using back then. 26” wheels, folds in half, goes on a bus, or at least it did back then: I think they’ve changed the rules now and banned big folders. That period is littered with rides to the bus in the morning, and rides all the way home. It’s also interesting to note that the folding mountain bike was chugging along at 15mph over the Fenwick Muir. I’d be happy with on a road bike!!!

LCFN started in earnest on the 19th August, so I’ve got three more weeks to clog the miles and get as close to 33K as I can for the birthday. But going with that theme of smashing goals, it’s interesting to compare 2014, 15, 16 and 17 to see how they stack up.

Comparing year on year to this date, 28th July:

In 2014, I’d racked up 5,266 miles.

In 2015, it was 4,097 miles.

In 2016, the wretched year that threatened to derail the whole project, the total was 4,264.

In 2017, the total’s 4,723.

2014 wins by a short head but considering I was cycling back and forth to Glasgow five days a week for most of that year, this year runs it a good second, especially when I’ve been working from home and only out the door once a day. At the end of the day, the only metric that counts is how much you want it: talking of which…

This is from the Shock And Awe blog back in May:

“I’m turned on by ridiculous stats. When I was a kid, I remember Geoff Boycott scoring his 100th first class century, ironically enough in a Test Match at Headingley, his home ground. A hundred hundreds, I’ve always thought that had a special ring to it. Well I’ll let you into a wee secret…

I dream of a hunnerd two hunnerds..

I kinda like the thought of doing the hundredth one in the week of my 65th birthday next March. That means I need 27, ooft that’s a Wum of double tons: cannae give up now. The next few weeks are gonna be barren: next week’s okay (74) but the week after that I’m down south with work (a rest!!!!) and following that we’re into the holiday season with odd days away here, there and everywhere. All it takes is one day off and that week’s a gonner. So let’s break it down: let’s make it 80 two hundred mile weeks by August”.

August is next week. I’m sitting on 79 double hunnerds. I need 35 from the next two days fto make that 80. So let’s just call it 80. By August. Last year I only clocked up one double ton after July.

There are 33 weeks left until I get my pension: the challenge now is that I’ve to convert 20 of them into double tons. Old Geoffrey would be proud, not necessarily by the outcome, but by the application: shit weather, dig in and don’t give your wicket away cheaply. By cheaply I mean “hmm, looks a bit wet today, don’t fancy that”.

Now before I finish this week, two things have caught my eye…

The LCFN blog, which topped out in 2016 with 4,260 hits, has bagged 4,910 in July (yes, you did read that right). No month has ever has 5,000 hits (obviously) and it’s 100% down the smile of Princess Puddles and the spirit of Gail, her amazing mummy, that we’re looking at that stat. LCFN and Eileidh’s Journey have been as one for the best part of two years and it ain’t ending anytime soon. If you want a wristband (yes, we still have a few), then message me. All funds raised from the wristbands will go towards Eileidh’s memory.

The other thing is that Jimmy Harrington is also reminiscing: about his walk around Australia. Jimmy’s four year anniversary is coming up too and I think he’s got itchy feet. He’s doing a video and asking for contributions from folk that he met along the way, either in person or through social media. Big man, I’m gonna do you a special from the wild west coast of Scotland in the next few days. If it wasn’t for you, and for Brainchild, there would be no Strayan LCFN: there would have been no Puddles CD and there would have been no wedding song for Eli n Hazza. Jimmy, you were the man, you are the man, and you will always be the man.

Imagine that four years ago…