It’s almost time to leave home once more, and I wanted to write one last post before I go. I trashed two attempts yesterday as neither seemed to say what I wanted to. It’s Monday evening now, I’m calm again after a day of jangling nerves and quiet anticipation. It’s just four days until I leave, albeit to join Sustrans ride, before making my way to Cornwall.
It won’t be any surprise to you to hear I’ve run a gamut of emotions as things have both come to me, and gone away in equal measure. I now have a final, final list, and it’s shortening by the day. Just four days ago I wanted to throw the laptop through the window and ride off into the sunset, forgetting all the fundraising and paperwork that seemed to be tying me into ever tighter knots, mentally speaking.
The basis of it was simple. People who had said they would contact me, hadn’t, and I was left hanging on by my fingertips again. In the end, I took control, deciding it wouldn’t happen, and that I would just have to let go of the things I hoped would lead materialise. What certain people overlooked, was the fact that other things were delayed whilst I waited for an answer, and now it’s too late to do anything. I’ve lost my window for a press release, and that has an impact on this ride and the media around it.
Tuesday began with an hours Pilates and a trip to the doctor. A final visit before I head off, just to check anything I needed. In this case it was a simple case of asking for a letter, to explain to customs and airport security why I had a big bag of assorted drugs. I can’t think about being in that situation without laughing at the comedy value. Like so many others, my doctor has supported me through thick and thin these last six years. When things are tough, she is there, ready to listen and the offer advice and support I need. I can only thank her for that.
Later on, the machine in the bank ate my card. Not because I didn’t have any funds, I’d just made a transfer into my account. It seems in line with the way things have been this last few weeks. I felt calm and patient and ordered my Euros as I waited for the card to be fished out of the offending machine. Technology, should we really rely so heavily upon it? Shopping done I headed home, arriving shortly before the adrenalin fuelled energy ran out. Suddenly tired, I lay on my bed and fell asleep. It didn’t last long, as the phone rang and once up I ticked a few more jobs from the list.
Kate Burgess, a local lady who pedals to support Help the Heroes, called to pick up the turbo trainer she had lent me for the non-bikeathon, and as we chatted outside a neighbour came and joined in. Around 5pm, an email notified me that the correct trailer tyres were finally on their way, and I felt a sudden and surprisingly strong sense of relief at this small, but vital, piece of news. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the promised screen for the iPhone, so there may well be a last-minute rush to the shops for a new phone, a cheap one.
Escaping the house to trim a friends grass was the next avoidance strategy. I enjoyed the mindless swinging of the strimmer as it buzzed loudly all around. Whisper, the rabbit that was once caged, and is now free-range, seemed quite shocked to find his hidey-hole had disappeared, so set about eating the debris. I was calm and relaxed for the first time in as long as I could remember, and after some food, I returned home.
Wednesday saw me rising early for my therapy session. It began an hour earlier than usual, and I was barely awake as I wandered through the park afterwards, looking at all the different colours the tress are presenting as they blossom. The session itself was a little tearful, I rely heavily on this weekly meeting, and now I won’t return until September. My sense of security is being trimmed for a while, and contact arrangements were made during the session so I can stay in touch, and reach out, should I need to. I was anxious, something the therapist picked up on straight away, as I twitched my way through the 45 minutes. It’s something that will keep building now until I leave. Fortunately it dissipates as the afternoon moves on. Running on adrenaline is exhausting, by mid afternoon I need to sleep and recoup the energy I’ve put out. Once that’s done, I take another, much calmer look ,at what’s left and make a start.
This afternoon saw me weighing the final pieces of equipment whilst waiting for the non-appearing tyres. I also made another decision. It is obvious that the company who promised to mend my iPhone (two weeks ago) aren’t going to do it, despite my calling in to remind them. Therefore I’ve ordered another phone, which means I’m now waiting in for parcels tomorrow, and doing everything else on Friday, which is cutting it really fine. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the parcel deliveries doesn’t take up the whole day and that I can collect my maps at some point.
An Englishman’s home is his castle, I believe is the expression. Mine isn’t really a castle, just a two-up, two-down garage. Every room is full of something to do with the ride. All apart from my bedroom, my sanctuary, where riding doesn’t exist. I need that space, as every other opening, room, and cupboard, contains something to do with the project. Whether I manage to get all the things I need into the trailer box, remains to be seen. Whatever happens it will be fun trying, as it’s the final thing that has to be done. After that it will have a flavour of deja-vu, with Fly and the trailer lying in wait in the kitchen, whilst I endeavour to sleep upstairs.
It isn’t the same as last year though. Then, I learned to swim. I had to stop drowning. It was a slow crawl to the start that got stronger as I got nearer to leaving. This year I’ve learned to run, and more recently, to hurdle. I’ll never be Colin Jackson, and some of the hurdles were almost too high for me to clear. Stumbling and falling is part of the process that is Riding2Recovery. With the help of others I can see the finishing line, which just happens to also be the start.
Goodness only knows how I will feel once the long ride north begins. I imagine a mixture of relief and joy, sunshine and rain, yin and yang, as I move slowly away from home once more. Having re-engaged with my local community, I’ll be tearing myself away from it for a while, but it will still be there in my thoughts, my home, my friends and even my laptop.
The final act of packing my belongings, is like placing a wax seal on the envelope. Once completed, the letter has to go on its journey. I will be the only one to know the contents, and they will give me the comfort and security to carry me through this long and solitary ride. Placing these things in an aluminium box and shutting the lid is the final act of commitment, just like when you send that letter of application and await a reply. Once that’s done, the journey really begins.
There is always fear in approaching a new venture. I’ve had many adventures in my life, and know the feelings well. The biggest fear for me is not failure or injury, it isn’t even the fear of stigma or criticism. My biggest fear is to do nothing, to not try to find a different way to live, and not have the courage of my own convictions. Something deep inside has led me down this path, and I want to keep on following it to see where it takes me. Each year gets harder as I battle to find the money to ride, but with each ride, a few more doors open a little. Riding2Recovery will change shape over the next few years as I endeavour to keep the project rolling, literally.
Finally, I received a comment today, from a 61-year-old man, who was handed an article whilst waiting in a doctor’s surgery. The article was about Riding2Recovery and he also remembered that he used to enjoy cycling. As a result of reading this blog he bought a cycle, and after 40 years without pedaling, he is planning his first tour, despite suffering crippling depression. This one comment alone has made the whole of my journey this far worthwhile. I wish Ray as much fun and support as I have found through riding a bicycle.
Thank you all for your comments, support and belief. I’ll see you on the road 🙂