- Mountainbiking – a eulogy for a friend
My thoughts are with you. I too have a friend who has been diagnosed with MS in the past year. 12 months ago she just got her black belt in taekwondo, and was moving up to be an instructor. Now she can’t walk without a stick. Life has been hard, but she is undergoing tysabri treatment, and is finding that it has really helped her.
I wish you all the best, and hope that you find something to help you keep your chin up, and to replace what you’ve lost.
Screw you MS, you bag of sh*t 😡Posted 4 years agomuppetWranglerMember
life can be shitty sometimes but you seem to have a very positive outlook so I’ll not dwell on the unlucky bits. Chin up and make the most of whatever else takes your fancy. Plenty more wonderful things in the world aside from mountain bikes.
Just started watching that video and realised that i need to make some proper time to watch it later, the mentality of that fella is just astounding.Posted 4 years ago
My friend mountain biking is dead, no, not for you, not in general, but for me, my friend of nearly 25 years has gone, and I miss it.
This year has been a bit tricky for me, I’ve been diagnosed with MS, in retrospect its been something I’ve lived with for years but have always shrugged off the many and varied symptoms as just life, but earlier this year I had an episode I couldn’t sweep under the carpet. I lost my ability to see, I didn’t go blind, just couldn’t understand what my eyes were telling me, was constantly very cross eyed, unable to fix my focus on a point, was a tad disturbing to say the least. Several months later, lots of tests, too much hospital time later I’m much better, but not 100%. I can see, my memory is shot to bits, both long and short term, and have a slight palsy down my right side.
My vision is not 100%, I can drive, even ride my motorbike, but if my head gets shaken about I can no longer understand what I see, everything shakes and blurs, I lose depth perception, can no longer judge speed and can’t work out where something is in relation to me. My bike on anything other than tarmac is just not possible, on a smoothish fireroad I can’t tell if that brown splodge is a pot hole, a rock or just a damp patch, on anything rougher I can no longer see the lines, and if I can see a line I don’t know where it is in relation to me.
I remember the first time I rode a bike (okay not the first time I rode a bicycle but please understand the term bike to refer to the mountain variety) I lived in North Wales, and my Mum hired me a Marin Palisades for half a day and I rode it round the forest roads around Betws-y-Coed all afternoon. I was hooked. I was soon the ridiculously proud owner of an ex hire Marin Palisades and on my way off to uni. I rode that bike for 4 or 5 years, learned how to ride, and very soon realised that the true fun was not to be had on the fire-roads but on the footpaths (cheeky I know, but I was a kid and it soon became a habit).
I started to meet people who shared this bizarre pastime, discovered people who I sort of knew also played this game, friendships that live on to this day, friendships not just based on the ephemeral giggles down at the pub, but on shared experience, on those moments of magic, the highs the lows, the pain and the laughter. Friendships which have helped me enormously through this year.
I’ve done some cool stuff, I was a trail pixie for 18 months, worked on the Marin trail, with the best bunch of lads I’ve ever had the privilege to work with, was in this here magazine, with my loyal old friend Mel (the crazy stick dog), she is still my loyal friend, but at nearly 16 years old not as crazy as she once was. I worked on the trails at Fort Bill, and was surprised to find a full sized poster of me on the wall at the NEC bike show advertising the trails.
Its the riding which I miss, and there have been some amazing days, in Wales, Snowdon twice in a day sticks in the mind, struggling along the side of Llyn Cowlyd into the teeth of a roaring gale in the sleet turning to snow and we just seemed to have one mechanical after another, we were cold getting home that day. Riding in the Berwyns, crashing breaking my collar bone, and getting a much appreciated, but very painful lift from a couple of foresters in their Landrover. The joy of discovering night riding, I bought a pair of nitesuns in ’93 I think, still got them somewhere, still work when powered by a cordless drill battery! Hours spent learning to jump, well jumping is easy, trickier to land them…
I moved to France, I’m still here, my riding evolved, I got a DH bike, rode it till I broke it (only ever had 2 bikes that I haven’t broken), met more friends, this time crazy French dudes. More fabulous days on bikes. The qualifier course for the Megavalanche is rather good, but also lesser known venues like Les Orres, Le Lioran, Pila, oh, Pila, one of my last days riding with a mate over from Wales was at Pila, racing the lift closing time down to Aosta, with our vans and our beds up top at Pila, taking different criss crossing lines to each other through the jumpy wood bit down the bottom, and laughing insanely as we made the lift with just a few minutes to spare. There’s some big mountains to ride here as well, put Canigou in the Pyrenees on your list. You park down low, at about 600m, ride up a rough fire-road for the next few hours ’til you get to about 2150m then lock your bike up and run to the top at 2784m then back to your bike and follow a long wonderful singletrack back to the car, 10hours it took me. I couldn’t talk the next day. The Tarn gorge, some brilliant rides, long hard climbs followed by stunning steep technical descents.
Riding has always helped me through the hard times, helped me put my problems into perspective, my wife, if I’m stressed just sends me out on a ride. Its kept me fit, training is not hard when its just so much fun, taken me to some amazing places deep in the mountains, and have loved every minute of it.
Now my bikes lie forlorn and gathering dust, and I know that I will never again be able to fly on them, never again that moment as you leave a big jump and you know you are in balance, speed good, you are going to land right in the middle of the landing ramp and you can just relax and enjoy that wonderful moment of freedom. Never again crash and fracture my tibial plateau, which for some strange reason is a lovely warm memory. Never again look into a mates eyes, see the searing rush of adrenaline and know there are no words to share the understanding of what you’ve both just done with anyone else. Never again ride Snowdon by the light of the full moon.
So fly free my friend go and infect someone else with your delights, It has been a true joy to have you as part of my life.
PS if you read all this, thank you, but in truth I wrote for myself, ‘cos I’m off to pastures new, just because I can’t do this does not mean life is no fun. I think Paragliding is a good place to start…Posted 4 years agoJohnny PanicSubscriber
That’s a terrible thing you’re dealing with & I admire your attitude and ability to write about it so eloquently.
I hesitate to mention this, it may be total bollocks and unverified, but I’ve read a couple of things recently about aspartame poisoning – that it can mimic some MS symptoms including memory loss & blurred vision. A google search will find much evidence for this, but then a google search can be made to support almost any mad theory. If you’re heavy on the diet soda’s it may be worth considering.Posted 4 years agogdm4Subscriber
Hey man, thats very touching, brilliantly written and you have my unreserved sympathies. I would like to think that any person who can appreciate and articulate their joy in the way you have just done can find that elsewhere in this big wide world of stuff to do. I truly hope you can find those feelings and experiences elsewhere mate.Posted 4 years agoianfitzMember
I absolutley did read it all. Thank you for posting it and I hope it’s been helpful for you to get those memories, thoughts and feelings out.
I’ve experienced various losses (both people and my own health) over the last few years and although different from your experience I could identify with many of your sentiments.
I know a few people who are into paragliding. It looks awesome 😉 enjoy!Posted 4 years agoboltonjonMember
Wow – truly sorry for your loss
What a piece of writing – moving to say the least and so eloquently written
It looks as though you’ve achieved more in biking than any of us could dream of
It also sounds as though you’ve given may of us pleasure with your trail building and countless adventures
Good luck in your new pastimes – i bet when your 1000ft up looking down, you’ll be feeling incredibly inspired and free 🙂Posted 4 years agojamj1974Subscriber
Slowmedown. Great post! You have summed up far better than I could, the things i live about riding. I will definitely think of your words next time I’m out and hopefully often after. It’s all too easy to take amazing things for granted and you have really made me stop and think.
Best of luck with your new undertaking – I am sure from the way you describe precious experiences that you will get a hell of a lot out of it. Thanks again!
JPosted 4 years agobedmakerSubscriber
Great post and a fantastic attitude to a really crap condition. Lots of it in my family unfortunately.
Never again look into a mates eyes, see the searing rush of adrenaline and know there are no words to share the understanding of what you’ve both just done with anyone else.
Nicely put. Happily for you, I think this could well apply to other things you may be abe to do instead, especially paragliding I’d imagine.Posted 4 years ago
Thanks for the comments guys, glad you enjoyed the post. Bobby is quite simply heroic, thanks mrlebowski for the link, a very humbling watch.
I’m relly looking forward to getting out with the paraglider, riding at the moment feels like its about what I can no longer do, I want my life to be about what I can do.Posted 4 years agoDrTMember
You have my sympathies and have made me smile too. I was diagnosed with PPMS this year and it took a while to get over shock of diagnosis. Luckily I’m still riding but cant push myself anywhere like as hard as I used too, currently only have some spasticity in my legs. It’s hard to picture when Ill have to stop riding and hope to push that back as far as I can as its been a part of my life for so long(its been 30 years since my first bike related trip to A&E). Maybe need to put getting back into paragliding (has been almost 20 years since I flew) onto by bucket list 🙂Posted 4 years ago
Wow, its been a year since I wrote this.
My health sucks, diagnosis has been refined to secondary progressive MS (don’t google if you want a cheery read!) my balance is terrible, I can walk, but only for half an hour or so, pain is mostly tolerable, bodily functions aren’t, and memory isn’t.
… but … I CAN RIDE A BIKE, well kinda ride a bike. I can ride uphill. Once I get going fast enough I can’t see (vibration wrecks my ability to see) and it means I can get fit again and it means that I get my life back.
I can ride my bike to my physical limits, its the only thing I can do to my physical limit, MS limits everything else. When I get to the top of a hill that I’ve worked at I have to find a place to fall off, because I can’t get off the bike and stand up.
On the bike my balance is just fine, off the bike, well lets just say I’m known in the family as Mr Wobbly.
It feels awesome to be back on the bike, feels like part of who I am is back.
It is quite strange to get to the top of a hill, feeling great, breathing hard, in perfect balance, OK perhaps not quite able to clearly feel the pain in my legs, and collapse in a heap on the floor unable to balance on my feet or tell my legs what to do.
I love bikesPosted 3 years agodiggaMember
scaredypants – Member
Best of luck in whatever daft-arsed pursuits you put in the place of this one
… and be sure not to grow upThe same from me – good luck at finding another way to idle away your leisure time. And there will definitely be something, and I sincerely hope it’ll hook you as much as mountain biking did.
It was watching the paralympics that I realised just how much fin it is still possible to have even when you’re wheelchairbound; wheelchair rugby has to be one of the most exciting sports I’ve ever watched.
Stay wreckless!Posted 3 years agosssimonMember
Glad to hear something positive, such a hard disease to live with but you sound like you have a great attitude and from my family experience that goes a long way.
My mum was diagnosed in 1985 and has been a real inspiration to me and others as she fought with the symptoms to raise my sister and me, working as a bank manager and caring for other family members sometimes to her own detriment. My sister was diagnosed 2 years ago and has had a real struggle coming to terms with her situation with 2 young kids and a not always understanding husband.
I’ve had a nagging feeling about symptoms and issues I’ve had over the years (numbness, tightness, balance issues and fatigue) and I’m due to go for an mri in the next few months which will hopefully give an insight one way or the other.Posted 3 years agofanginSubscriber
about this time last year I nearly died riding my bike – landed on tarmac on my head, and just about everywhere else as I bounced to a halt. I too know a bit about too much hospital time. And long and short term memory being shot to bits, and the visual perception issues you describe are so familiar. My sincere sympathies.
Paragliding sounds cool. Plenty of crazy French dudes do that too!.Posted 3 years agoracefaceec90Member
wow is all i can say from reading your post slowmedown.
i suffer with depression (which has stopped me riding my bike,as well as laziness tbh also 😳
reading your post reminds me that i used to feel exactly the same as you when riding my mountain bike (or any bike for that matter).
i want that feeling back again 😀
may i wish you and anyone in similar circumstances my very best wishes to continue to do what you enjoy doing. you certainly prove that an illness won’t stop you doing what you love.
peace and good luck to you all (man 🙂Posted 3 years ago
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