It’s written on the flag…

1 Man                  4 Years                                              25,000 Miles

But I fibbed just a wee bit when I made that up because it should actually have read

1 Man                  4 Years 7 Months 4 Days              25,000 Miles

And even that was wrong because fast forward to now it should actually have read something like this:

1 Man                  4 Years 7 Months 4 Days              39,750 Miles

Next week I will be 65: the original (projected) back stop end game: as in no more.

When I started back in 2013, I hadn’t a clue what lay ahead: there was no blog, nor even a notion of it. That didn’t come about until late October when Big Wullie, to whom I will forever be indebted, told me I should start one. And for the first few weeks, I had to send them off to Angela for proof reading, because I wanted donations so much…

How times change.

After about a year, the money dried up: I totally get it that people sign up to do something out of their comfort zone, just once, like a London Marathon, and all their friends chuck in donations to make it seem worthwhile. LCFN stopped being that kind of gig a long, long time ago. When the money stopped, I didn’t: it really was as simple as that. I think it was about the time that JJ over in Australia was punting LCFN on his radio show every single week, that I began to realise that for me, it was no longer about the money but about raising awareness of neuroblastoma. I was done with flogging a dead horse, begging people for money, and frankly I too find it a turn off when I open up my timeline to find the same posts, over and over again, asking the same question: give me your money. So I stopped asking..

Occasionally, people message me and ask how they can help: that’s different. But I’m done with ramming LCFN down people’s throats for cash. And of course that doesn’t sit well with the fact that research costs money: but I’m not a marketing guru and I’m not comfortable that aspect of what I’m doing: leave me to get on with dealing with the pain and I’m like a pig in muck. How I wish sometimes that we had a wee group of people who could flog this horse.

I apologise in advance if this next bit offends anyone, but for the past four years, LCFN has been the corporate cash cow that charity failed to sell. Did I back the wrong horse in going with Solving Kids Cancer (nee the NCCA)? Should I have gone with another neuroblastoma charity? I do understand that everyone is after everyone else’s money, but throughout the past four years, I’ve been asking myself the same question: I believe I’ve proved, over and over again, that I’m in this for the long haul: I believe that this gig is on a different planet from 99% of fundraising events out there. So why has someone who ultimately benefits from my efforts – Solving Kids Cancer – not signed up a megabucks corporate organisation to back it at daft money per mile? I’ve been asking myself that question for at least three years…

I’ve done a lot of reflective thinking these past few weeks. Next Friday will be two days since SPX told me that my skills didn’t match their corporate objectives. Well I’ve dealt with that one: I’ve moved into a different industry, studied like I haven’t studied in thirty years and now I’m building new software products to screen for disease. Being released into the wild after the stifling experience of the preceding years was the best thing that could have happened to me: and two of my former colleagues called it two years ago: Fabiana and Anna, I will never forget the faith that you had in me during those dark, dark days: it’s our secret.

One of the reasons I’ve pushed so hard these past few months has been the ride from Brisbane to Adelaide, which is now just five months away. The original route was 1600 miles, aka 2500km, to be knocked off in three weeks: that’s 75 miles a day. Since then, the wee team that’s planning the event has chosen to use the number ‘2’ in the branding: 2 because two is the most common age of diagnosis. So BrizAlaide has become Bri2Alaide and those 2500km needed to be trimmed to something with more two’s in it. How about 2222km, aka 1390 miles at 65 a day? We’ve achieved that by plotting an inland route that heads up and over the mountains out of Brisbane (hills, on day one, what’s there not to like about that: 100 miles downhill on the other side…) instead of heading down the (Gold) coast to Sydney.

Sydney will happen by a different route: a five hour drive with the Gold bike in the back of the motorhome. Yes, I want to ride over the Sydney Harbour Bridge: yes, I want to see the Opera House go gold at nightfall: yes, I hope that Paul and I can get to visit a cancer research institute: and yes, it would be nice to kick my heels on Bondi Beach, if only for an hour, in winter.

Three months ago, I decided that the best way to prepare for 75 miles a day (before we shortened it) in an Aussie winter at 15C was to ride 35-40 miles a day (average) in a Scottish winter at 2C. I reckoned that the mental side was way more important than the physical, and that if I could come through (what has turned out to be) the longest, harshest winter in years, then that experience would see me through whatever Australia has in store.

Albeit that I’m knackered, to the extent that every day that I’ve been out recently I’ve sworn that next week I’ll take it easier: 2018 has been an epic battle of LCFN versus the weather. We’ve had more snow than we’ve seen in years; we’ve had more episodes of snow than we’ve seen in years, we’ve seen ongoing low temperatures like we’ve not seen in years (has it really been 2C for the past three months?) and yet LCFN has risen above it all: just one day missed in 67, 2445 miles at an average of 36.5 and a run going just now of 47 thirty mile days in a row. The previous best was 42, and the most days in a row of all time stands at 63. It’s my absolute intention, in Elieidh’s memory, to glue those two records together and take out that 63 with consecutive 30 mile days: in winter.

See that thing about never giving up? The proof is in what you deliver, out there on the road: I know, looking at the stats on Strava, that as the miles have gone up, so the speed has gone down, day on day: that’s pure tiredness. Sub 12mph feels insulting but I accept and understand the reasons. I was doing the sums while I was out today: around 36 hours a week of creative mental work in my day job, another 25-30 hours on the bike, then chuck in the tiredness, both physical and mental: that’s the result at the back end of all that. Yes, I’m tired, but when you push yersel’ as hard as LCFN demands, then it’s inevitable that you’re going to find out where the boundaries lie: so you can move them…

I was brought up a sixties Soul boy: Motown, Stax and Atlantic. And while I was thinking back over the last four years today, I had Diana Ross and the Supremes going round in my head: so I re-jigged the lyrics in order to reflect on not just my world, but that of the parents who have lost a child to neuroblastoma: I apologise in advance for this being so hard, but the reality is exactly that way…

Through the mirror of my mind
Time after time
I see reflections of you and me

Reflections of
The way life used to be
Reflections of
The love life took from me

Oh, I’m all alone now
No love to shield me
Trapped in a world
That’s a distorted reality

Happiness it took from me
And left me all alone
With only memories

Through the mirror of my mind
Through all these tears that I’m crying
Reflects a hurt I can’t control
Although you’re gone
I keep holding on
To those happy times
Oh, child when you were mine

As I peer through the windows
Of lost time
Keeping looking over my yesterdays
And all the love I gave all the same
(All the love) All the love
That I invested
(All the tears) All the tears
That I’ve tasted
All in vain

Through the hollow of my tears
I see a dream that’s lost
From the life baby
That you have lost

Everywhere I turn
Seems like everything I see
Reflects a pain I can’t control

In you I put
All my hope and trust
Right before my eyes
My whole world has turned to dust

Reflections of
The love life took from me
Reflections of
The way life used to be

In you I put
All my hope and trust
Right before my eyes
My whole world has turned to dust

Now baby, why did this world do it?