Most days, at some point in the day, I think about how good it feels to be healthy in mind and body and the things it allows me to do. There have been very long periods in my life when even a little was not possible and right now I'm lucky in that it almost seems like it was somebody else back then. I simply love riding a bike and it's very much a part of who I am that I ride everyday to get to and around appointments for work and for just about everything else. I feel lucky and grateful that I can do this.
At the start of the year I planned an ambitious (for me) ride as a fundraising event for the Autism charity I work for (adults with Asperger's) - to be able to buy some bikes for our service users to ride. As you might guess, I'm quite the advocate for cycling - with my colleagues and with service users and have generated some enthusiasm for it among them. We just need to get some bikes to get folk started now.
Once I'd decided to go for it, I started cramming in miles - thinking that if I could ride a very long way home from work in the cold, wet and dark of winter then I was building up some kind of adaptable tolerance level. There were numerous set backs - flu, colds, waiting to afford bike parts/repair (I only have one bike - and it's been rare that everything is in tip top condition at the same time). But I love it. Just simply riding a bike is a joyous liberation.
As the winter finally abated I had a crash and banged my knee. It happens, we all crash at some point. With age, recovery seems to take a lot longer and this one has been a bugger. My swollen knee seemed to be recovering slowly but then after three weeks became much worse and kept me off the bike for another three weeks. My training program was out the window and the event was in question. I was having to take the bus everywhere. It's a lot of travelling, (always done by bike usually) and that alone was impacting on my optimism and love of my job.
I extremely grateful to glupton1976 of these hereabouts who went out of his way to help me and gave me good advice and a program to help me recover. Cheers mate. He knows his stuff about cycling and I'd certainly recommend him as a physio.
Slowly, I got back on the bike - very easy at first and have tried to build fitness but juggle not hindering recovery with doing too much. I may have overdone it a couple of times but it's hard to curb ambition.
I put the date back and although I haven't done all the enormous and ambitious training rides I had planned - this Friday is the day I cycle the West Highland Way.
Am I ready? Oh yes! Is my body ready? ...we'll see. I had a respite trip with a lad in Aviemore last week (we went cycling for a few days - brilliant). Afterwards I stayed up there and did almost 120 miles and 9,000ft ascent in three days. On the last day my knee was very sore and I thought it was done for - I slowly ambled up the Lairig Ghru to roll back down but by the time I hit the best part of the climb the knee had eased and I was buzzing. Six hours later I rolled back into Aviemore having loved every second of being out on the bike. Knee has been okayish since. I've yet to know how it will be beyond ten hours of riding. I'm resting til Friday now, but I can't wait.
If anyone reading this wants to contribute then here is my page for donations. (mods, I hope this is okay to post here).
One of my colleagues is riding the second half with me and there'll be a couple of girls waving the flag and doing a collection at the Green Welly at Tyndrum in the afternoon. I hope to be (ahem) recovering in a bar in Fort William on Friday night. Say hi if you see us.