Is there life after cancer? The answer is a simple yes! I would like to think I’m proof of that. 10 years has passed since I was diagnosed and from that day I vowed to go from strength to strength. That isn’t as easy as it sounds believe me but I wouldn’t let it win and in doing so I have created a life for myself and have proved that living is possible. I know there is lots of people out there going through cancer who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, they think they have no place to turn or hope of good times again. I thought that once, only briefly mind you but I did think that. It can be so hard to get yourself out of a rut in General. Everyone has those moments at some stage in life. Some of us are made to cope better than others but whatever way we feel there is always help, it can come in many forms but it is there. I learnt to accept help in many different ways. I’ve been known let’s say to be very stubborn, I’m not denying that and when I struggled to come to terms with cancer I just wanted to do what my head was saying and tell everyone else they were wrong. All good and well for a while but I soon realised they were in fact right. It took a few years granted but with talking to people, getting involved in numerous activities that enabled me to open up amongst many things. All those things people around me suggested I try, I slowly but surely came round, stood on my own two feet again and began to put my life back together. It was God damn scary, I didn’t want to move on as it sounded easier to do what I was doing at the time. I’m no quitter though and so here we are!
So the time has come and I’ve nearly made it to end of this journey! It’s been a while since I talked about my fundraiser, the whole reason for doing this blog in the first place! To be honest I’ve been hard at it trying to get it done. 10000 miles is a long way and I wanted to get it done so I put the head down and got on with it. Next week will mark that milestone and to say I’ll be pleased to be finished is an understatement.
Dont get me wrong, it has been an amazing experience and a worthwhile one at that in achieving this but boy o boy it has been tough. I’m lucky I prepared well for the consequences. The fatigue I knew was going to be an issue, the sore body too. Even the mental side of things. I knew it would be tough but I did my best to try and conquer these. My mind and body slipped a few times but it has got me this far and has taught me what is possible for myself! Life is never easy as i well know but its amazing what we can achieve if we put our mind to it! I was always confident in my abilities and my stubbornness and will to succeed allowed me to bulldoze through the bad days and carry on.
All that time on the bike has allowed me to think too. It’s amazing what goes through your mind when your free and the wind blowing in your face and the rain falling sideways. In fact I’ve never been more free and part of me will miss that greatly but my body is a mess and needs rest so I’ll have to find something else to occupy my time with! These last few weeks feel like months, the anticipation of the end had never felt so far away but now a week away the realisation is starting to sink in. I now begin to wonder what is next? I now dream of long lay ins and thoughts of driving home when it’s pouring out of the heavens! Oh the simple things in life can be so rewarding when you haven’t had them in a year.
The most important part of the whole process, the fundraising, has been more successful than I could have hoped. Over £6000 and counting. I really can’t thank everyone enough for the donations. Believe me when I say it is going to something very worthwhile and it will be appreciated by many more. I have a long list of people I would like to thank and I want to do it on this, one of many platforms I use to broadcast my fundraising. I know I haven’t finished but I’m close enough to it to be pretty certain the thankyou’s can start.
First off I need to thank Pearl Izumi. I was fortunate enough to have them support me of all this year and they have been amazing. That experience alone has been brilliant. Bikespanner did wonders keeping me on the road, without them I would no doubt be behind schedule. To all my customers through work, Kathy Cash, Cotic bikes, killyhevlin hotel, moneyreagh primary school for their fundraising efforts on my behalf. Madison distributors, my friends and family, all my Pi champion teammates who have inspired me this year and last but not least Sarah from the charity. She has been behind the scenes organising events for me, getting permits and countless other tasks. Without her help this may not have got off the ground. If I have forgotten anyone I do apologise, I really do appreciate it I do. It’s just been such a hectic time with so much support I’m sure someone has been forgotten.
Thankyou so much everyone, it has been a team effort more than you can believe. Yes I may have cycled 10000 miles, no help there but in the background is the support and the support has been crucial. I say 10000 miles, 9900 currently. Just 100 more miles to go and that is it. Roll on lay ins and lazy days!
Some of you may think that all I do is talk about cancer, think about cancer and campaign about it too. Well your probably right, I do but for good reason. When you go from minding your own business and living your life to be giving a life changing diagnosis, your life changes whether you like it or not! I wasn’t going to let cancer beat me and decided to do something about it. Regardless of the excellent treatment I received, I knew I needed more and that’s where the charity I support comes in.
I can’t praise Friends of the Cancer Centre enough for what they’ve done for me. You would think after everything I went through that I would want to put cancer behind me but anything but. I do what I do because it’s the least I can do to give back to those that helped me. In fact it makes me proud to be named a charity ambassador.
Charities come in all shapes and sizes but I firmly believe this small and caring charity that helped me is the best.
It’s hard to describe just what they did. I think it’s more to do with those that work there. Each and every one of them dedicates their lives to help patients with cancer.
I’ve always had the opinion that nurses are right up there at the top of the tree of special individuals. They do a job which we fail to thank them enough for and those at the cancer centre I rate the same. This is why I want to use this medium to try and do just that, say thankyou. How do I say thankyou to so many people? I do what I do. Yes you may be sick and tired of my constant chat on social media and sharing cancer related stories never mind the fundraising efforts. I do all this to say thankyou, to try and give others like me a better chance of life. It’s not much to ask. I enjoy what I do but also know what so many others did in giving up their time for me.
So much of us take for granted what we have. If we all managed to give up even an hour a week to a good cause the world would be an even better place!
Know one says we have to give all our money away to charity to help. Of course it provides much needed services etc but volunteering your time is as important as anything. That’s what blows me away about the charities staff. It’s not just a 9-5 job for them. They give so much more than that. Many a day they work right through to 8-9 at night! How many of us can say that we do the same for no extra pay? That tells me how special the charity is! They go the extra mile, they believe in their ideas. They see the positivity of the support they recieve. They see what their effort and time can achieve and that’s why they care so much. If you only do one thing today please check the charity out
The more people that can be made aware of these amazing people the better!
Over 10 years of being involved in the cancer circle, having had cancer, experienced others going through it all the way to involving myself with fundraising and helping on the frontline, I’ve had the same discussion many times- is there really a cure for cancer we don’t know about because the drugs companies don’t want us knowing?
Like my last blog, this is something that has struck a cord with me. It angered me for a long time when people suggested this was the case. Why would they? It seems mad and even inhumane to do such a thing but these conspiracies have been around for a long time.
I’ve learned to live with the fact people are entitled to their opinions but I now wanted to look into whether there was truth behind the conspiracy.
It’s common knowledge that cancer drugs are expensive. The development,research, testing, and trials of said drugs account for the price but at the same time, these companies are making hundreds of millions. Cancer could be seen as big business to some. The executives of the companies only want to see profit so I could understand why people would assume they don’t want a cure. This stretches further and further when people would accuse the government of wanting the ‘business’ to thrive as they would be rewarded for it.
I’m pretty sure this isn’t the case though. The cost of treating cancer takes up a large proportion of the budget. The cost alone to the NHS in price rises in cancer drugs is £380 million in a year! How can governments sustain that kind of financial pressure? Even the most cynical should realise the government is keen to reduce the huge cost not increase it!
The financial incentive is clearly on the side of finding a cure not hiding it?
The Government also funds the majority of research too so this further adds to the bill. In my opinion the government isn’t the issue.
The stories I’ve heard about drugs companies would start to make me cynical!
One story I came across was quite disturbing.one particularly well known company had created a new drug, very profitable. The problem was they couldn’t find enough patients to use the particular drug so in order to convince health agencies to buy the drug, they allegedly took patients who didn’t have cancer and made it look like they did, so in other words, made it up!
Very disturbing indeed.
It is also known through research that medical professionals have voiced concerns about drugs taking precedent due to higher profit margins rather than effectiveness.
All this aside can you still honestly believe there is a cure but we aren’t using it?
Take smoking, one of the biggest causes of cancer out there. Yes the government taxes smokers to the hilt but the cost for cancer treatments surely out numbers this! With the smoking ban having been in place for years, the money made has decreased massively. We can see with our own eyes the drop in smokers. You nearly forget how bad the smell is until every now and then someone reminds us! One problem though is that those that did eventually give the habit up, a percentage of those unfortunately contracted the disease, still costing the health service and slowly crippling It in the process.
No matter what, there will always be those that believe a cure is out there. I believe a cure will be found one day. I’ve seen too much to not believe that but I don’t think there is one yet. Cancer has been round for a very long time. If an alternative medicine truely was a cure for every case we would be using it. Research is so important so let’s keep it evolving. We will get there one day, I just know it!
This is a topic and that can devide opinion at the best of times, is it better than traditional medicine? It is a great topic for debate and I myself have had my run ins with individuals regarding the subject. I’m not unknown to be quite opinionated especially when it comes to something I’m passionate about and think I know a bit about but even I can hold my hands up and say that I have let other experiences cloud my judgement on certain aspects of this topic. To clear up what I’m referring to, it concerns cannabis oil as an alternative medicine to cancer. Now I’ll go into it more later in this blog post but although I’m more clued in as to what it is and how it apparently works, I’ve had my fair share of heated discussions online about this. I won’t name the individual or website that advertises it but it has really got to me on occasions due to there reckless ways of showcasing it. I’ve been called many names but due to this I’ve actually learnt a lot more about it and am a bit more open minded about it but I’ll discuss that later.
Now, other than the big topic of cannibis oil, there are other ‘alternative medicines’ out there that have been and are being used to treat cancer apparently. You’ve probably noticed I’m very sceptical and have a shield up regarding this as I’m very protective of the NHS and the team of people who put their life and soul into curing me and many others from the disease. Sometimes I feel they are cast aside and not appreciated when people disregard traditional forms of treatment. Everyone is different and everyone has their own right to decide on how they’re treated which I respect but due to an ignorance on both sides I may add, there is a lot of badmouthing about both forms. I may be sceptical but I’ve learnt to be more open minded about it and understand that in some cases patients have no other choice and have nothing to loose. Like everything, it’s not 100% effective always but hope is a powerful thought and if someone believes it will help, sometimes that’s enough.
So what do we consider traditional and alternative? Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery are seen as traditional. Those that disapprove of these methods do so because of the side effects and believe it’s a conspiracy by drugs companies to make more money. Alternative medicines can be simplified into things such as vitamins and supplements, herbal medicine and acupuncture. Those that oppose traditional but are for alternative say this is a much cleaner, safer and effective way of curing the body. Whether or not that is the case it’s still a money making business just like it is for drugs companies with traditional meds. I don’t care what anyone says but if you buy cannibis oil, herbal remedies, vitamins etc your still lining someone’s pocket for the privilege of potentially curing your illness.it isn’t being provided out of the goodness of people’s hearts, or at least not for the majority of the time. I know the work that goes into cancer research and those that do it are dedicating their careers in trying to find cures and better less evasive treatments. Yes drugs companies eventually create said treatments and make money but it works the same for both forms of medicines.
So upon research I come to the conclusion that trying to find some information on the alternatives was particularly difficult. I found that most sites discussed the negative aspect these treatments can have when going through traditional medicines. That’s not what I wanted, I wanted to know how these therapies where seen to be affective against cancer in their own right, not when used alongside common treatments. Perhaps this comes up because it is assumed that these treatments are only used in this way? I’m pretty sure that’s not the case though. Many people are totally against the likes of chemo and radio from the outset so what do they do? How do they go about helping to ‘cure’ themselves? Well here is a few therapies I’ve picked out. Some sound ridiculous, others seem to have a bit of a better background to them.
GERSON THERAPY AND JUICING
This therapy was developed by Dr Max GERSON over 90 years ago. It was based on the idea that if your body’s immune system was strong enough it could reactivate your body’s ability to heal itself without the damaging side effects. Organic plant based foods feature heavily. Juicing also seems quite important with the idea that the food remains in a raw state and consumed that way. Some other things you need to do while on this is coffee enemas ,eating beef liver and taking natural supplements. Now I don’t know about you but coffee enemas and eating beef liver don’t sound like my idea of nice forms of treatment but who am I to say, perhaps it works? I’ve no idea but it’s interesting to learn how some people might decide this is the treatment for them.
Everyone I’m sure has heard of this. There is that well known yoghurt ad on the tv that tells you about ‘good bacteria’That good bacteria has been proven to be true! There are many different types of PROBIOTIC FOODS and even being fit and healthy, these sound like a good idea to add to our diet. It caught my eye as it actually had a bit of research and proof behind it which made me believe that there would be some hope that it could help. Research has suggested that probiotic supplementation may be able to stop tumour growth. This makes sense due to 80% of your immune system is in your gut so a healthy gut is a healthy body. I’m still slightly sceptical if this would be effective while having cancer but it defiently sounds more promising than the first option!
TUMERIC AND CURCUMIN
I always knew eating curries where good for me in some way. In fact I’m a big fan of spices in cooking and if you look into it quite a few have health benefits. The two mentioned above are no different. It has been widely known for years now that these spices help in the prevention of cancer in our bodies. Explains why many Asian countries have lower rates. It’s not exactly a difficult thing to do either, just add a bit in your food and it tastes good too so hey, win win !
So I’ve mentioned a few alternatives but the main one I want to discuss Is cannabis oil or hemp oil as some refer to it. Many find the idea of medicinal cannabis ‘wrong’ due to our views of it being dangerous for various reasons, me included! I guess I was stuck on the thought of what it does to people, makes them paranoid, violent etc etc. That just isn’t the case though. The oil is made by removing the main ingredients from the plant that cause these symptoms and takes the parts of the plant that have the health benefits. It is made up of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol) usually in equal amounts. Many people swear by this, many have claimed it has completely killed their cancers. The claims are extraordinary whereby you can’t ignore. Perhaps it does work but my issue is the research behind it and the badmouthing of current treatments that are used instead. Now I have no idea why the medical profession refuse to acknowledge it as of yet but It isn’t like they are treating patients with no idea of what their doing. The claims from the cannabis oil camp is that cancer research is all about finding more poisons to destroy our bodies and that the research has achieved nothing. They say we should be using what nature gives us to cure our bodies? Most chemo drugs are made from natural products found on the planet. There is obviously more to it, information that anyone outside the medical profession just wouldnt understand. Is it time though to join together and research this a bit more in depth and consider it as a viable treatment option? My fear is politics is getting in the way of it. If that’s the case it would be a terrible shame. If the claims are true the drug should be worth a try. Even if it was given as an option if patients didn’t want the traditional route. Who knows what will happen. I will be more of an open book on the subject from now on but I won’t stop asking questions and fighting the corner of traditional. Yes I may upset some over that, they may choose to call me all the names under the Sun but if that is the attitude we must encounter, we will get knowhere. Would I consider it if I was ever put in the situation again? To be honest I just don’t know. Would I consider any alternative? I think if I had to consider any it would be cannabis oil but it would still take a lot of convincing.
Lets hope none of us have to ever consider any of this but if you do at least you now know that you have every chance in this lifetime to defeat cancer and continue living your life!
For all my cycling friends and for all of you who enjoy a good read. You’d think with all of the cycling I’m doing at the minute the last thing I’d want is to read about it too! Well your wrong,I’m a man obsessed at the moment but that doesn’t mean what I’ve read isn’t fascinating or inspiring my daily routine.
First up is Cycle of Lies, the fall of Lance Armstrong. Yes that guy again. His autobiography was like a handbook of hope and perseverance when I had cancer. In that book he said when he won the tour that he hoped his victory inspired those fighting cancer. All of this gave me hope but when it came out he had cheated I was intrigued to know how and why. I was stuck, I didn’t know whether I still felt the same so I had to read this book to make my mind up!
What intrigued me and probably every other sports fan was how he managed to go all his career without testing positive? Well the complexity of the doping programme he was in was mind blowing. The book goes into detail into how they managed it. Sometimes it was done right behind a closed door to the scrum of the fans and media. The Armstrong bandwagon was that cocky!
What you learn from back then was that in order to win you had to join everyone else in the doping system. Armstrong just did it so much better. Racing the tour was not just a bike race, it was a test according to Lance. It tests you physically, mentally and even morally. He knew what he was doing was wrong but to succeed he had no choice, his downfall was coming out of retirement!
Expo, the main drug the peloton used, boy o boy is it dangerous! Some riders felt the need to overuse it to try and be faster, however it placed them at a very high risk of a heart attack!
All scary never mind the thought that it actually could have caused his cancer in the first place! Armstrong never believed this, that’s why he used epo again when he returned from having cancer but the author suggests otherwise.
The book details Lances personality, his sheer ruthfulness to get what he wanted. It’s not a side I particularly liked the idea of however upon reading it, it didn’t change my mind on him. He was a troubled character but the good he did for cancer awareness and research can’t be ignored. Cancer once came with a stigma because people were afraid to say it. Armstrong and Livestrong helped change that.
It’s a great book, very different to his autobiography but still worth a read.
Next up is Geoff Thomas-Riding through the storm. Geoff Thomas, who is that I hear you say? For all you old skool footy fans out there, he played for England and Crystal palace to name but a few. Geoff Thomas was diagnosed with Leukaemia and when he came through treatment he decided to ride the tour De France, what a legend I thought so it was a must read!
When I started to read this I realised how similar both of our lives had become even though we are from very different backgrounds. Reading about his struggle in riding the gruelling tour was one thing but the direction his life had went after Leukaemia was what kept me turning the pages.
Cancer changed his perspective on life. He vowed to fight it for everyone. When he decided to ride the tour he did it for himself. He wanted to prove he had beaten the illness. I was the same,I had to find a way to prove it and then it struck with me I wasn’t just doing it for myself, I wanted to do it to help others with cancer. Geoff was no different. He wanted to be a symbol of hope for leukaemia patients. He set up a foundation and in the book he explains his reasoning. Seeing patients die around him while he was a patient too drove him on to help them in some way and kept him going through his own dark days!
I can relate to what he went through but if you read this as a non cancer patient you will no doubt be in awe at what he eventually achieved, incredibly difficult as it is but recovering from cancer too makes it all the more extraordinary! As a book about bikes, it’s great getting caught up in the action, the pain staking famous climbs, the 12 hour days in the saddle! His life may have been a fairly privileged one but he hit rock bottom and he bounced back stronger than ever and wanted to prove it. Going back to Lance Armstrong, Geoff explains he too was inspired by him. Yet another example of the good he has done even after the scandal around him.
One of the last quotes I picked up from his book really hit a chord with me. He said people ask him whether he would go through it all again and he said yes. Does he want to – no but he would if he had to.
I couldn’t put it better myself. A true survivor, hero, inspiration. It makes you have a bit more faith in mankind. We all have that ability to be like Geoff. Sometimes we just need reminded!
The last book I will review which I’ve just finished hasn’t a cancer theme but defiently cycling! I heard about this guy through fellow cycling enthusiasts and his expeditions sounded right up my street. I’m sure most of you have read this book or know eniugh about it to know how good it is! Everyone should read it in fact. It’s not just about cycling, it’s about what is possible physically and mentally and how diverse our planet is. We are sometimes too in closed in our own wee world, if this book doesn’t inspire you to go and explore nothing will!
The book in question is ‘The man who cycled the world’ by Mark Beaumont. Kind of explains itself.
Mark had the dream of having the world record of riding around the world unsupported in the quickest time. In the book it explains his background, his personality from a young age and what made him take part In this remarkable adventure. Some of his achievements as a teenager are beyond impressive. From an early age I think his family knew he wouldn’t stop until he completed his ultimate goal! As you read through the chapters you get a sense of the different cultures, amazing landscapes and wide range of people he encounters. You sometimes forget he’s cycling your so engrossed in the adventure.
It’s not often a book really captures my attention but this did. It’s right up there in the top 5. If we think what we would achieve in 194 days and 17 hours I can’t imagine too many of us will have cycled over 18000 miles!
Another example of anything is possible. If your looking a positive, inspiring read give this one a go, you won’t be disappointed!!!
Everybody is health conscious to a certain degree. We are all looking at how we live and how we can improve but no matter what we do, will we be able to completely prevent all illness or injury?
In all honesty the answer is no. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. After having cancer I was much more aware of looking after myself. I’ve never been ‘unhealthy’ but I took more notice of what I was doing with my body in order to stay in good working order. I did the obvious,watched what I ate, did more exercise but the more I studied this the more I began to realise that some things where out of my control!
I’ve explained before that cancer is caused by changes to our genes and unfortunately some of these changes are due to environmental conditions.
Globally 19% of all cancers are attributable to the environment! 1 in 5 is massive! When you really think about it, it makes you wonder what exactly in the environment is contributing to these stats? The two most obvious ones are exposure to tobacco smoke and uv rays from the Sun. We can avoid both of these by taking appropriate measures but others are harder to avoid.
Everything from the air we breathe to the water we drink to materials we use in our jobs. All can contribute to a higher risk of cancer so let’s explain further.
First up is Asbestos. Years ago this was very naively ignored as dangerous but now it’s widely known and we are much more aware of the dangers. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that is resistant to heat and corrosion. It usually affects us due to inhaling the particles and that in turn affects our breathing and is a well known cause of lung cancer. About 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos in the workplace and 165000 global deaths of lung cancer caused by air pollution! The more we are aware of stuff like this the better our chances of avoiding it!
If I say the word ‘Aflatoxins’ I bet most won’t have a clue what I’m talking about. To be honest I didn’t either. Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi that are found on agricultural crops such as maize, peanuts, cottonseed etc.
Fans of peanut butter should listen up as it can be affected! I was gutted to hear this as I love it on toast for breakfast. Not only is bacon bad but now peanut butter! Eggs better not be bad for you otherwise my choice of breakfast is depleting rapidly!
Ok next up, do you like a lovely coal burning fire on a cold winters night? Well this might make you reconsider doing it more often than not. Burning coal outside on a bbq etc isnt really a concern because your in the open air but the combustion of coal indoors is a different story. Burning coal produces particulate and gas emissions containing chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Having these within a closed space can become a problem! We can help with the risk by having an indoor stove or a well ventilated chimney to reduce air pollution. Some countries like China where they are burning stupendous amounts of coal, is affecting the health of more and more citizens. By taking precautions hopefully we don’t fall foul!
While still in the home, there is a well known cause of lung cancer which some of us may have no control of, could just be down to unfortunately being in a area where it is present. Radon is the substance I’m referring to. The natural radioactive gas is found in many homes however most it shouldn’t be of a concern. Only in small proportions of the population can it be a problem.
Last but not least is Benzene. This is found in exhaust fumes and is a known cause of leukaemia.when in a world full of cars, buses, lorries etc etc these fumes are unavoidable. Regardless of cancer, benzene contributes to many more health problems! Hopefully with the advances in hybrid and electric powered vehicles this should impact on us for the better. Better still, do what I do and pretty much abandon cars and ride your bike, just think if once a week everyone rode to work. How much better would we feel and would our health improve? Without being an expert I think I know the answer.
So there you have it. An insight into how the world we live in and how we live can impact on health greatly. There are a variety of environmental risk factors linked to cancer but there is no need to live in fear. It’s impossible to avoid all exposure to carcinogens but it pays to know what is in your environment and to do your best to protect yourself.
I knew from the beginning that what I aim to achieve was going to be by no means easy. Months before I set upon my journey I contemplated whether I could do it. I knew deep down I could but how could I get away from the constant daily repetition of riding similar roads and not to get complacent? Well to prevent that from happening I had planned beforehand to organise numerous events to take part in to ‘mix it up’ or keep it fresh. Some I have done, I’ve travelled many miles to compete and take part in sportives all over the country and now it was time to do that travelling on the bike, from my very door. Since completing the length of Ireland ride I always wanted to ride coast to coast, east to west and since I live on the east coast I knew I could organise it fairly easy. So after some initial planning the ride was on. Bangor to Sligo, 140 odd miles. I planned to ride it over two days. Day one would take me to enniskillen 102 miles then day two would be just over 40 miles to Sligo then another 40 back to get the bus.
I looked forward to the adventure. It was two days of just me, my bike and the countryside around me, the birds singing and hours for me to think and contemplate life, to think about what I’ve achieved and see how far I’ve come. You see the day before I set off it was my 10 year cancer anniversary. I was proud of where I had come in that time. This trip was as much of a celebration and doing it with the thought that 10 years ago this wouldn’t have been possible.
7am, Tuesday 15th August. The weather was great and I was fuelled up and ready. Once I worked my way through the hussle of rush hour traffic and got to the other side of Belfast, the roads where mine and I was alone at last to enjoy this. No more stress, just the open road ahead of me. More people need to get out in the open air, there is nothing better to relieve stress and anxiety. A slight hiccup 50 miles in due to roadworks I was back on track and well on schedule.
Day one was quickly coming to an end. I arrived at the hotel and was still feeling good. First 100 miler of the year and nearly 7500 on the year. My pints of Guinness that night were well deserved!
Waking up on day 2 the dreaded sound of rain on the window was apparent. I didn’t believe it at first. I knew the forecast but I tried to pretend it wouldn’t happen but right enough as I looked out the window across the Lough it was in fact raining. To say it didn’t please me was an understatement but the sight afterwards of a guy sitting in the outdoor hottub below me at 7am did cheer me up. If he can do that sure me riding the bike for 5 odd hours should be no bother?
I do love a hotel breakfast, buffets are my dream especially when I know I need to fuel up for a big day. When I found it wasn’t a buffet my day was again on the turn.
I couldn’t avoid it any longer. Off I set in the rain and off into the unknown. This part of the world is like a different world compared to the east coast of Ireland. Everyone works at a much slower pace and are very laid back. I just continued the theme and learned to embrace the typical Irish weather! Before I knew it Sligo and the Atlantic coast was in sight! I made it, no hang on I still had another42 mile in order to catch the bus! 42 miles, no bother. It was for 39 anyway. So close to the finish and then the heavens opened! I could have cried. I was tired and sore. My knees really weren’t thanking me and when I tried to push it on to get to shelter they sighed even more. My hip too and not forgetting my injured left arm were reminding me of how far I’d come but add to that being soaked to the bone just took the achievement out of it. Not until I was changed into dry clothes and sitting on the bus journey home did I appreciate my efforts. I enjoyed it because it was different but I enjoyed it because of what it is all in aid of. I never forget the real reason why I’m doing this and that’s what it’s all about. I’m so close now and I imagine the next time I’m doing a update I will nearly be done. For this trip I’d like to thank the killyhevlin hotel in enniskillen for their help. Back to the grind tomorrow and yet more miles for the cause. For every mile though comes more donations!
Just over a week ago I embarked on a trip that was to see me take part in an event for Pearl Izumi and ride one of the best mountain bike destinations in the UK. This trip had been months in the planning. Pearl Izumi asked me to pick an event I’d like to take part in of which they’d organise. I could have picked a local event but I wanted an adventure and to get away from the roads I ride every single day. I wanted to break the cycle excuse the pun and give myself something to aim for while grinding out all these miles. In the planning stage I decided to include a trip to Bpw as I might not get another opportunity for a while!
So on July 1st I set off, got the ferry to Scotland and then proceeded to drive the 4 hours to Cheshire for my Pearl Izumi sportive, the Hoy100. I don’t know why I chose this over others. I guess I was swayed by the fact it was for one of this country’s greatest ever Olympians. I liked the idea of potentially riding it with him! So on the Sunday morning I arrived bright and early for registration then proceeded to meet up with fellow Pearl Izumi team-mate Peter Thomas. He apparently lived not far away and wanted the opportunity to cross paths again, seeing as though we haven’t since the induction day in March!
The whole event was so layed back so our start was exactly what I needed after a long day of travelling the day before, nice and steady while my legs got into the rhythm! Peter and I chatted away while we scooted through the Cheshire countryside. It was refreshing to be riding alongside him, I’m so used to riding on my own at the minute that familiar company just makes the whole process easier. Dont get me wrong, I love cycling but some days this challenge wears me down and when you’ve only got your own voice to listen to, things can get very repetitive so another voice to listen to is good. The time was flying by as we covered the miles at a generous pace, not intentional may I add, we were just in the zone and making the most of the flat roads and good weather! After a brief water stop we continued. The final few miles I rode alone while Peter rode them at an easier pace. The guy then tells me he rode over 90 miles the day before so not a bit of wonder he wanted to slow the pace down, fair play.
Medal around my neck and burger being destroyed, my sportive was over. Even sir Chris got a medal, God knows why, I’m convinced the person giving out the medals didn’t know who he was haha but sure, I wonder if he’d swap mine for an Olympic one? Maybe not. It was great to represent Pearl Izumi once again. To have a brand like this supporting me through my efforts is amazing so this is the least I can do! So I said my goodbyes and got ready for the next long drive to south Wales this time for part two of the trip!
My mate Richard was coming to meet me at the hotel in order to come riding with me the following day. Richard joined me on my last cycling fundraising challenge as well as raced a season of enduro with me. We often reminisce of our cycling adventures of which we’ll both agree are greatly missed but life goes on, he now lives in London and my ambitions have changed too. It was good to talk to him about my 10000 mile challenge. He rode 6 days with me when riding the length of Ireland so appreciates the magnitude of what I’m doing. Luckily we both arrived within close time of one another so after a quick clean up it was to the pub we went for a few social pints and some dinner and get excited about tomorrow’s antics!
The day arrived, I was finally going to get to ride the legendary bpw. What a place and what a change to riding the road. Mountain biking is my first love when it comes to cycling and when that adrenilin rush comes surging back I can remember why I miss it. Run after run, the dust slowly covering the bike and myself, I was smiling from ear to ear. Railing the berms and just throwing the bike from left to right, this was what i was after. I nearly didnt want to stop for lunch but my wrist was saying the opposite. After my road crash a couple of weeks back where I wrote off one of my road bikes, I had been suffering somewhat from the impact. Although xrays showed no breaks or fractures, I was still in pain so eventually I had to call it a day with probably 2 more uplifts available. I just couldn’t hold on no more so with my thoughts on long term I decided I had enough fun and was happy with my exploits and headed back to the car while Richard headed for one last run.
So a week on and I’ve just completed yet another road ride. The trip was amazing, I’ve no idea when I’ll get back to the mainland for another cycling trip but another mini challenge is in the planning! Next up is next month whereby I will attempt to ride coast to coast of Ireland. I’ve ridden the length of the country so I want to complete the set by riding east coast to west coast. It’s a long ride alone but it’s something im keen to complete so watch this space for a run down on my mini adventure!