Ride of My Life 2015
Being amongst nature helps heal mind, body and soul.

I don’t know where my time goes. One minute I’m writing here and the next minute two weeks has flown past without a thought to stop or slow down a little.  I’ve been managing the injuries I wrote about last time as best I can and am pleased to report that I have made good progress. I’ve ridden Kermit a few times by limiting my mileage and keeping half an eye out to gently increasing it. In addition to that there’s been some pilates and a little yoga, as this always helps rebalance muscle groups that can easily get out of sync with one another when you do repetitive exercise like cycling.

On top of those things, and like many of you, I suffered a huge bout of referendum blues. I felt as though my country was being destroyed for no other reason than to accelerate somebody’s career trajectory. Knowing I couldn’t do anything to change the result, or the future consequence, I had to fall back on my old position of switching off the news and withdrawing from Facebook and other social media to some degree. It wasn’t easy to do, but ignorance is sometimes bliss and when you struggle to compute your place in the world, or when you feel the actual fabric of the world being torn apart, burying your head in the sand for a while is a good interim strategy until things calm down a little.

I’ve also had a break from Devon. Michele and I took ourselves off to London to see Carole King performing at the British Summertime festival in Hyde park. The bonus was that we got to see Don Henley perform at the same time, throwing us instantly back into all those timeless Eagles Classics. He provided the perfect warm up act (sorry Eagles fans) for the hugely talented and remarkably effervescent Carole King, now 74, whose performance of Tapestry was an emotional journey for the audience as well as Carole King herself. This was the first time she had performed Tapestry in its entirety since she wrote it and there was hardly time to draw a breath between the intricately connected and emotionally evocative tracks.

British Summertime
Michele enjoying the British Summertime Festiva in Hyde Park, London.

Emotional music often sends my mind tumbling out of control, pressing the release button for years of pent up distress. I cried unashamedly and sung as though it was my last opportunity, my mind swimming freely amongst the wall of sound emanating from the stage. The music never quiet led me over the edge where it feels as though there is no chance of return. It just ebbed and flowed, built and diminished, each track fitting perfectly in the space left by the previous one. I was left feeling as though I had just witnessed somebody’s entire life in an hour and a half. Carole King was very young when she wrote this.  How people have such wisdom and understanding at such a young age I will never know.

All of this occurred during a week when I had just finished the exciting business of having my feet treated to Shockwave Therapy. This was an attempt to heal the dreadful Plantar Fasciitis that has made it hard to stand at certain times of the day. I’ve suffered this for many years but more recently it has returned with some vigour every day in the morning and at any point when I have been on my feet for a while. My feet get so tender that putting my weight on them is excruciatingly painful for a while, until I get moving. It then dulls to a lower level pain that just hangs around until evening when it increases to ‘please go away’ levels of discomfort. It will be four to six weeks before I know whether the therapy has worked, but last weekend saw me hobbling around like somebody twice my age as the initial, damaging effects, of the therapy kicked in. The hospital staff told me I have a high pain threshold, which I feel is just as well as I’m going to need it.

Dreaming of scenes like this helps recovery.
Dreaming of scenes like this helps recovery.

It certainly felt good to get out on Kermit, even for just an hour. I felt pleased with myself for being so relaxed about not riding. I find it hard to sit still and do very little, but what with a sore back, knee, and feet that feel as though they are on fire, I had little choice but to listen to what I was being told.

I found some comfort in taking gentle walks and believing that I would heal quickly as I always have. Somewhere in my head there was a small, destructively nagging, voice saying something along the lines of “what if you can’t cycle anymore,” but I tried my best to ignore it. There’s no doubt that at times my body feels battered beyond its years, but when I feel that way I try to remember that my mind uses this ploy to get me to recognise the fact that I’m tired and worn from the lasting effects of having poor mental health.

Exacerbating this negativity is a history of back problems that started when I broke it paragliding. I know all too well that getting out in the world does nothing but good when my lower back is in spasm. Staying mobile is of great importance and I try to take at least one walk a day along with a few sets of stretches. For those of us who are also inclined to deeply depressive episodes there are additional benefits. A short stroll, with a few ‘hello’s’ thrown in to the people you see along the way, can turn your energy right around. It is well understood that this helps alleviate the notion that you are all alone in the world and I find it brings a little quality to an otherwise dull day.

Ride of my life 2015
National Cycle Network: route 4

Sitting alongside my efforts to recover is the feint notion that I might still escape on my trike for the month of August. While I’ve let go of my unwritten and partially planned idea to ride to the far north and back, I am beginning to feel motivated to do whatever my body will allow me to do. When you live in such an interesting part of the world as Devon and Cornwall it shouldn’t be too difficult to summon up the desire to go and explore a bit deeper. I find that once I let go of any expectation regarding daily mileage that there is still plenty around to make touring seem worthwhile. Getting intimately acquainted with a few more places around the south west region might be in order?

The next couple of weeks will let me know whether or not this is possible. Until then I shall keep on messing around with reducing the weight of my camping equipment, taking short rides and fiddling around with Kermit’s tyres and such like until I’m happy with what I’m riding.

Until next time………….