Yesterday felt like the first day of spring. It wasn’t typical of February but it was very welcome none-the-less. The complexities of riding regularly and managing my mental health can be frustrating beyond words. Riding in Devon always has plenty of ups and downs, but when they are out of synch with my mental fluctuations it can feel all but impossible to go out. The opposite of that is when everything falls nicely into line and I get what I call a ‘bonus day.’ These are quite rare, but happen enough that I can use them to measure where I am in my physical fitness rather than feeling held back by my mental limitations, which can leave me sensing that there is no point in even trying to go out.
This past week has been a mish-mash of thoughts, feelings and ideas. Nothing feels concrete in my mind. Instead, it flows like viscous lava, slowly and relentlessly, regardless of my input. As a consequence, my mind feels full of treacle and my thoughts are ponderous and unclear. I have four health-related appointments this week and any cycling I do will be fitted in around those, squeezed in where I can. The weather is not playing ball either, with wet, windy and difficult conditions forecast throughout the next week.
So here we are, over halfway through January 2017. It isn’t that I want to wish the time away, simply that I yearn for warmer months and more time so I can escape by trike to new places. My current medication has its benefits and its downside. Firstly, it is holding me in a more level space, something I haven’t known in years. Secondly, and not so good, I feel flat and demotivated, unable to wake early or to get going even when I do. Once I force myself out and about things improve for a while, but on my return I still fall asleep, curtailing my days at both ends.
It’s another bright winter’s morn. The fog that hugged the ground and hid the view is now dissipating. The sun is taking charge, even though it’s weak in January. There isn’t a cloud to be seen and that is as good as it gets at this time of year. Crisp, dry mornings are my winter preference. You can keep those soggy mild days as far as I’m concerned. These cold, clear days are ideal for pedalling off some of the Christmas excesses and for rolling along gently and dreaming of what is to come in the new year. They are also good for recharging cognitively after holiday stresses.
I’ve travelled in all kinds of weathers and would like to offer some detailed tips on surviving cold and rain. So here are my top 25 tips for touring in the rain:
I needed a day out. A day when I’m not sat at home wondering where everything will lead. Today was that day, even though it didn’t feel like it when I got up. To be honest it doesn’t often feel like a good day and during most of this year I’ve just tried to accept that carry on as best I can. There has been no great journey, no adventures of any kind, just the day to day slog of trying to get through the days and weeks. There has been changes in medication, mostly successful, and ongoing investigations into other aspects of my ever-struggling body and mind. But they haven’t led anywhere that feels different to the place that I started from.
I have a strong personal belief that leaving isn’t the toughest part of a long journey. That award goes to returning home. There are many articles about the pains and pitfalls of arriving back in reality and many of those describe something close to the stages you might experience when you’re grieving. So, what happens? Why is getting back to the home that you most likely love, and have at times yearned for, so difficult? Perhaps the fact that we give coming home no, or little, thought before leaving may contribute to its impact when we return.