Whole Lotta Love

Special month, special week, special day, special people…

I work hard every day but it’s people who make this challenge special: the people who support me mentally through encouragement, the people who support me financially with their spare pennies and the people who just hang around the edges of what this is about before realising that I’m in this 100% for longer than they can flirt on the outside looking in. LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma is not going away anytime soon!

Monday was fantastic. It was a truly special day, a Cake Day. Thank you Tara! It was a day that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time: 10,000 LifeCycle miles on the way into work. Completed in fourteen months at an average of 195 miles a week at age 61. Y’know, I’m really, really proud of that, I really am. But let’s move on. It’s in the past…

I’ve chosen to dedicate those first 10,000 miles to all of those children who fought neuroblastoma once and survived. Those miles were for you. It took a long time, it was painful and we didn’t know what was round the next corner. None of us knew what the outcome was going to be if we are perfectly honest about it. But we all came through it and we live to fight another day.

To all the children for whom those 10,000 miles and that long fight were enough to banish neuroblastoma forever, I love you and I pay homage to your fighting spirit: Bravo!

However to all the children who relapsed and have to do it all again, this next one is for you. Please don’t go away because I’m not planning to either. We are in this together. It took me 14 months to crack the first 10,000 miles and that felt like an eternity. But I got used to the routine. There were many times when I could have given up (cue lashing rain at 5am, sleet smashing into your face on a 40mph gale and so on) but you don’t. To give up is to lose all hope. And without hope there is no future. We never give up.

The next 10,000 miles are going to be the rollercoaster from hell. I’m a year older for a start: 62 in the spring. The Daily Express says this is going to be the worst winter for a hundred years: but they said that last year and look what happened. Nothing. It was the mildest winter in my short memory. The thing about the next 10,000 miles is the thing that builds a bridge between the LifeCycle challenge and every child and every family who has to go through this a second time: we’ve been here before. Yes we’re scarred by the pain and the memory of the first time around, but we came through that and now we know that we have the strength to go through it all again. We don’t know what the outcome will be, none of us know that, but we know for sure that we ready and well up for the fight.

And so to this week: Tuesday… wet going into work and a tick, tick, tick off the front wheel approaching Williamwood High School on the road from Waterfoot to Clarkston Toll.  Twice I pulled over to the side of the road to see if I’d got a leaf stuck to the wheel but both times I couldn’t see anything untoward. However it was pitch black and the street lighting was poor. “Sod it” I thought, “something’s not right but let’s crack on, get these miles done and get it sorted once I get to work”. Half an hour later I discovered that  I had a hawthorn spike stuck in the sidewall, still attached to a small twig that was catching on the mudguard: I pulled it out and Pssssssssssssssssst. The tyre was flat in fifteen seconds. Bugger! But I keep spare everything on the bike (and in my drawer at work) so an hour later it was all sorted. On the road again.

Cue Thursday…

I left the house at 5:15am and something didn’t feel right. The bike didn’t feel right. I pulled over and checked both tyres: the back one was fine but the front was spongy: I’d got another feckin puncture in the same wheel I’d fixed only 48 hours earlier! FFS…

I stopped at the bus stop round the corner (yes, it was raining and yes, it does have a shelter). I had three choices: turn around, go back home and borrow Jane’s bike: nah, too much hassle swapping everything over; lights, bag and stuff. That’s not happening. Option 2 was to go back home and pinch Jane’s front wheel: she has the same bike as me. Tempting, but hassle because I’d have to open up the house to open up the bike shed to get the wheel off. Nah, I’ll just pump the fecker up and give it some welly: adjust the route to suit how the bike is feeling and just roll with it. Well if the truth be told, that tyre got me to work and soon as I tried to put more air in it, went down faster than Ross County on a Saturday afternoon. I took the tyre off and hey, there was a hawthorn spike straight through the outer skin of the tyre. Cue Groundhog Day.

And so to today. This was a day I’d secretly been hoping would happen for a very long time and even to the last minute I was unsure that it would actually evolve: but it did! I had three companions for the run home from Cathcart to Stewarton at lunchtime. One of those three was Jane, Mrs LifeCycle and cake maker extraordinaire. I think Jane had been secretly dreading today because Professor Gloom, the weather forecaster, has been particularly pessimistic about Friday afternoon all week. And he was right. Giffnock and the lower slopes of Newton Mearns were okay(ish) but as ever when you head out past the Malletsheugh, the conditions on the Muir were brutal.: 25-30mph of a headwind and lashing rain. It would be a lie if I said I was disappointed because I know how the Fenwick Muir can be. In fact it will be like this two thirds of the time for the next four months, except then it will also be dark on an unlit road. Yeah, I’ll take you on mate…

My other two guests today were very special people who vowed to join me in this particular week two months ago. One of them oozes what I call spirit out of every pore of her body. She knows what I’m talking about and I know that I am right. Special person number one has gone away from today saying she’s just completed the hardest thing of her entire life. I’m really pleased about that. Special person number two found it really, really hard, particularly once we hit the hills in the pouring rain. But with the words of a conversation that we’d had as we passed the Red House ringing in his ears, this guy dug deep into the spirit of wee Oscar and delivered a result when a mere mortal would have chucked the bike over the fence into a field and hitched a life home. But we don’t do giving up on LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma and now that message has a tincy wincy bigger audience…

LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma is not about giving up: ever.

So, where does that leave us? Well this is the weekend that the clocks go back so Monday is the first of the hundred days from Hell. No daylight, morning or night, for 100 days. It will blow like hell, it will lash down with rain regularly and it will be freezing cold many times. It will be hard, very hard. But isn’t that the same hard choice facing each and every one of those children fighting neuroblastoma for the second time?

We are all in this together and after the week I’ve just had, I feel a Whole Lotta Love out there….


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