Reflections…

I spent a lot of time thinking today: thinking about how on earth I took on this challenge almost three years ago; thinking about the people I’ve met; thinking about the kids I never got a chance to meet; and right now, thinking about the ones that I did, and who are still fighting to make every day a brand new adventure.

I took on the Glasgow ride today because (a) it kills yer legs within two miles of leaving the house (b) it blows like mad most of the time up on the Fenwick Muir [and today was no exception] (c) I’ve spent about 80% of my time on that blessed road. And for just one last time, I wanted to nail it: I wanted to show it who was boss, who had prevailed, who had overcome. With two weeks to go, LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma stands on the cusp of defeating the Fenwick Muir. And today was about proving it.

LCFN has prevailed.

People are joining LCFN all the time so forgive me if I’m repeating myself: but I think this is important.

Between the ages of 16 and 36, I didn’t ride a bike at all. Not once. I was a student, a computer programmer, a backgammon player and a runner. But never a cyclist. Interestingly enough, there was a 10K in Kilmarnock, just down the road, last Sunday, and had the LifeCycle Man of the mid 80’s been running in that race, he would have won it. Back in my day, 31 minutes something would have got me a top twenty placing, and I was always happy with that: I knew that my place was never at the top table of Scottish athletics: the good guys were running 28’s, 29’s and 30. How times, and lifestyles, have changed.

I was never fast, as in fast, but I could always go for a long time. If I may take a wee aside here for a moment, ten years ago, I coached a lovely young lady ahead of the Glasgow 10K, the big one they do in September. Together, we got 15 minutes off her PB: and we’ve been friends ever since. I haven’t seen her in ages and ages but that doesn’t matter. Last weekend, she took on the Caledonian Challenge which is a near 50 mile walk starting at the southern end of the Great Glen Way north of Fort William, and finishing at Tyndrum on the West Highland Way. Basically, it’s got ten flat miles of the GGW  bolted onto the best (interesting and challenging) bits of the WHW. Sophia finished it, having walked through the day and the night, and in her Facebook book post the next day, there was a hint of never again. I stamped on it. Trampled all over it. Next year, Sophia and I will walk that walk together, and reminisce how we came to know each other all those years ago: it was a chance meeting because of her perseverance. And she’s got ten years’ worth of living in Luxembourg and London before finally arriving back in Glasgow to tell me about.

So back to today. There was no holding back. Yesterday I pummelled my wee legs on as a flat a route as I could find heading out west towards Kilwinning and Irvine before paying the price into the wind coming home. Today I took the hills and the wind at the start and just hung on for dear life until I turned for home in Glasgow. You kind of need to know how horrible that road is at 6am on a dark, cold and wet winter’s morning to fully appreciate why I did that today. It was payback for all the bad times. And for all the times that the Fenwick Muir was a pig in the mornings, it was always ten times worse coming home at night: nearly always into a howling south westerly prevailing wind. I thought long and hard today about the times that I headed back over that Muir into driving wind and rain, in the pitch black, with just wee Oscar’s light to guide the way. 6mph was flat out on occasions, such was the ferocity of the weather.

But LCFN prevailed.

I want you to think about how tired you feel at the end of a working day: that’s mega important in relation to what’s coming, because with the exception of about ten excursion days, the remaining 590 LCFN days have been full on working days…

  • 40 days between 29 and 29 miles
  • 188 days between 30 and 39 miles
  • 256 days between 40 and 49 miles
  • 70 days between 50 and 59 miles
  • 21 days between 60 and 69 miles
  • And 7 days more than that.

Let that sink in for a minute. Bloke, aged 60, just got a bus pass, decides to take on the full force of nature, and the Fenwick Muir, for kids with cancer. And wins.

LCFN has prevailed.

And then there’s Puddles. People of a certain age will remember The Rise And Fall Of Reginald Perrin on council telly. Old Reggie used to have a catchphrase that he always managed to utter in vicinity of his boss, CJ, in every episode: “I didn’t get where I am today…” Well sitting where I am today, with calf muscles about the same size as my Ross, who’s the reigning Caledonian nae dodgy stuff bodybuilding champion, and thighs like tree trunks, I can truthfully say that “I didn’t get where I am today without kids like Vanessa and Oscar and Mackenzie and Alfie and Anya and Zakky and Kian and Luke. And Eileidh. The list is endless. One every three and a bit days: and counting.

LCFN prevails for the kids.

Tonight, there are only 182 miles left. The grand total is sitting on 24,818 and I’ve never been more motivated.

Talking of motivation, LCFN is about raising awareness about neuroblastoma, and nowhere is that more pertinent than in the blog. I started (three months late) because Wullie Broon told me to.

And because I like numbers, here’s LCFN StatsRUs: the on the road story of the journey…

In the first six months of 2014, the blog had 1,421 hits.

In the first six months of 2015, it had 1,810 hits

So far this year, and June isn’t finished yet, it has had 1,883 hits.

Awareness is winning: LCFN has prevailed.

And so to the future…

I’m going to bang the 25,000th mile on the head on the 1st July to coincide with the release of Amelie’s second CD “About A Girl” (that’s Eileidh by the way). I just wish we could get Messenger to do voice calls properly cos we could really do with saying “G’day” that day.

And you might be thinking that with only 182 miles to go and two weeks to do it in, I’m going to overshoot. No chance: I’m in Liverpool for most of next week., A rest is on the cards. We’ve a team day out at Chester Races next Friday and I can tell you right now that any nag who’s name even slightly resembles Vanessa, Oscar, Mackenzie, Alfie, Anya, Zakky, Kian, Luke or Eileidh is getting money invested on it. Or Puddles of course. Losses don’t count but all winnings will go to LCFN.

And so to Strava…

The LCFN club on Strava has gained another member and is up to 9. It might not sound like much but believe me, these are early days.

I set the first target at 100,000 miles but the team’s already through 2,000 and counting. Want to join? It’s easy: sign up for Strava, join the LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma club then get on yer bike. And record the miles, of course.

And before I finish this week, a wee bit of news on perhaps the most exciting development since August 2013: LCFN is working on branded cycling shirts that will definitely stand out from the crowd. We have supporters worldwide and it’s only right that they should have the opportunity to wear the shirt with pride. I’m expecting a massive reaction when our guys go out on the road.

LCFN has grown organically. I was the old guy with a folding bike and a bus pass three years ago, but inspired by a collection of warriors, we are where we are.

LCFN has prevailed.

And it’s about to take off for the next generation of kids who’ve yet to be diagnosed.

I’m going nowhere. We’re going nowhere. Except on our bikes.

As I said to one of Princess Puddles’s supporters today: we ain’t doing bad for a scratch squad of helpers.

LCFN has prevailed…