They Think It’s All Over

The last time I penned the blog on a plane, we were heading back from the States a year ago after the flag had been a wander round New York. This time the flag’s headed for Barcelona and a trip round the Nou Camp (amongst other things).

We’re heading out five days after the original LCFN challenge ‘ended’, as if you can just stop riding because you’ve hit a brick wall that’s graffitti’d with ‘Stop Now’ in big gold letters. The challenge now is to come down from a life spent smashing my body, into something that’s altogether more pleasant and manageable. I don’t want to stop riding: that would self imposed purgatory. The aim now is to find the right mix between enough exercise to keep me sane and enough sitting about the place to rest my long term sore bits.

Last Friday I rode one solitary mile from our house to Angela and Gordon’s. Then the champagne came out, and the malt came out and the beer came out. Don’t despair, I pushed the bike home…

Stephanie, Angela’s daughter, videoed the arrival, and Angela and Jane did a great job with a proper finishing line like you get at the school sports, and a load of helium balloons. Thank you ladies, it was great. For my part, I had the Garmin camera running on my bike too so I had the onboard perspective of all the whooping and cheering. The original plan was to film the whole mile for posterity but a full set of red lights up at the Cross then a queue of traffic behind a parked bus kind of scuppered that idea.

So since then it’s been a case of keeping a lid on the miles. I absolutely don’t want to get embroiled in thirty mile days, day after day, ever again, but neither do I want to become a sloth. My body’s become so accustomed to burning up an extra two thousand calories a day that I risk becoming a wee roly poly man if I ain’t careful. So the show will go on, albeit at a reduced level. Had we not been going away today, then this would have been a 140 week and I can live with that.

On Sunday a wee gang of us headed over to Millport to celebrate the end of the journey. The original plan was to do the last mile there but the release of Amelie’s CD ‘About A Girl’ two days earlier changed all of that. I wanted to do a tootling about ten mile lap, which we kind of did in two groups, then I ‘went for it’ with a flying lap on my own. The wind was very strong and all of the gains headed up the back of the island were lost once I turned for home in the last four miles. Red zone and legs falling off pretty much sums it up. Ten miles in 31m37s will do for now but I sure as hell intend going back on a still day and posting a sub thirty. The spirit of the competitive LifeCycle Man is alive and well. Thank you to everyone who made the effort. We’ll do it again in five years when I get to 50,000. Only joking….

What’s really different, what’s really changed, between this week and last (and the one before that and the one before that…) is that I’m no longer a guy who’s riding 25,000 miles for kids’ cancer. So many times when I told that story in the past, I got the feeling that people were thinking “yeh well, he talks a good game but I bet he won’t actually finish it”. I’m not that guy anymore. In the space of a few days, I’ve morphed into the bloke who did it. My endurance CV now has the daddy of them all sitting alongside running/hobbling a hundred miles on foot in a day in 1983, and cycling from Manchester to Glasgow in a day in 1994.

With me parked up relatively speaking, the LCFN goal has shifted. One million miles is now the name of the game and I’m trying to recruit cyclists worldwide to join the LCFN club on Strava and donate their miles to the cause. Every great effort starts frim humble beginnings, I’ve become very accustomed to that over the past three years, so it’s just a case of taking each day, each week, each month and each rider as they come. Collectively, the Millport mob bagged a ton of miles last Sunday and as I’m writing this, we’re through 4,000 miles. There are fifteen of us signed up just now, but I’m expecting that to rise over the coming months.

On the horizon we have a sponsor lined up and we’re busy designing branded kit. The basic design is done: we just need to finalise a few things before we press the button on the production run. My hope, optimistic as ever, is that we’ll have the ‘must have’ shirt in the UK, and that folk will want to wear our kit because it looks great. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. The plan is for the proceeds of the kit sale to go to Solving Kids Cancer.

Right, complete change of tack: next day… the flag’s in Barca. I know we’ve got two flags but this one’s been to America twice, Poland, Spain, Scotland and England. And today it was at the Nou Camp, home of arguably the best team on the planet, with other people looking on, wondering what the fuss is all about. Cue handshakes. I keep saying it… awareness of the disease: 99% of people out there have never heard of neuroblastoma. And y’know, the flag looks so much better with all of the signatures on it: it’s like it’s had a life: and so it has. It’s the public side of what this is about.

The other flag, the one that went to Straya (I still refer to it as the Vanessa flag) still has just the signatures it had when L’Anja brought it back from Adelaide: JJ, Jimbo and Jackie.I want Anna Meares’s paw on that flag. Anna was so good to LCFN back in Dec ’14 and she’s so much of a sporting and kids’ cancer hero back home that she’ll be carrying the Australian flag at the Olympics, her fourth, in a few weeks time. How I hope she bags another gold medal.

Despite all the apparent jollification, I can’t let this week finish without reference to the kids, and in particular the two Scottish warriors that LCFN has featured this last wee while. Eileidh and Kian are currently both battling with everything they have to keep the disease at bay. The outcome is uncertain for both of them, so we keep hoping, we keep wishing, and we ask ourselves why any child should have to go through all of that at age three. And that’s before you pile the agony of the families on top. Lisa, Kian’s mum, has been living in the hospital for weeks and hasn’t seen her orher kids during hat time. Gail is backwards and forwards to Aberdeen just like it’s been for two years. Hard, hard, hard.

There’s a huge part of me that’s thinking I’m letting the kids down by taking a back seat. But it has to happen. Age 63; sore bits; tired bits; I need a rest.

They think it’s all over…

But it ain’t.