2004-01-01 21.31.45
Not everything goes to plan!

Welcome to all of you visiting my new website for the first time. I’m excited at the new look, which is the creative work of Liam Taborn, to whom I owe a great deal of thanks. To say I love it would be an understatement and it’s incredible how empowering it can be to throw everything up in the air and start again from scratch. I feel as though the freshness and clarity of the new look has also had the same effect on me, revitalising my motivation and desire to carry on pedalling to far-away places on my trike.

The timing of the new site couldn’t have been better. I have struggled to get over a virus and chest-infection for the whole of April, having been unable to ride or even contemplate going out for anything other than gentle exercise. This virus coincided with my therapist being away and my general mental health taking a slide. Both of these things are linked I’m sure.

For a while I felt as though my life had been stolen, the bricks and mortar (and bikes and paraphernalia) are all still there, but I couldn’t imagine them being of much use as I coughed and wheezed my way through life. But then the weather changed and the antibiotics took hold. It was as though I woke from a deep winter sleep into the spring sunshine.

Flowers started emerging from the hedge rows and Devon banks: daffodils first, then primroses, celandines, white bells, blue bells and many more. Butterflies completed their long transformation, from chrysalis to a thing of astounding beauty, in a flourish of colour and beating wings. And the warmth that soaked into my body felt life-giving after the past weeks of solitary confinement and discomfort.

Lundy
Some like to stand out. I prefer to blend in.

As my health steadily improved, my thoughts turned to cycling, albeit something a little more gentle than I thought I might be undertaking at the end of April. My desire was simply to get out, despite being weakened by said virus. But it still felt remarkably therapeutic. Gently does it, with lots of stops and a pre-ride warm-up that included both stretching exercises as well as  several extra puffs on my asthma inhalers.

It felt liberating to leave the house and merge slowly into the big, wide, world again. Since then, each ride has brought a new level of strength as I returned to normality, such as it is for me. My senses were stimulated by my surroundings and the world seemed to stretch out before me, quietly whispering “come and explore”. Even my open map book, the one I had been using to plan this year’s ride, began to wink at me again. That was something that hadn’t occurred for nearly two months. There’s hope in those pages, along with adventure, escape and exploration. I just have to manage the leaving and be patient.

But it wasn’t just a virus that had beaten me up. I had made applications to seek support and advice for the illness that has blighted my life for many years now. I met with a supportive and understanding, but ultimately ineffective, mental health worker who told me how well I was doing, all things considered, and that there was little help or support that I could gain for Borderline Personality Disorder,  an illness which best seems to explain the things I suffer. He said that we could look at medication (again) but as Borderline type personality disorders have no medical cure, there was little that could be done.

I didn’t want medicating further, although I wouldn’t reject it if it looked promising. I wanted support, somebody to lean on, who could advise a way forward. But alas, it would seem that we are alone in the world after all; as resources dwindle and support to help avoid further problems (through prevention) ebbs away into the gutters of our society. Why are we not worth supporting? Why have I spent years paying for the therapy I need? What message does it give to those who may be contemplating the end of their lives?

Nairn-Moray Firth
The perfect place to empty your mind and fill your soul. NE Scotland.

The world needs people to speak out. We need to shout out loud that we won’t go away, either to rot in institutions or out of visible sight from politicians who speak one thing and do the opposite. I don’t feel mad about it. Perhaps I should? I feel resigned, as though I’ve known this all along and now need to accept that, other than through speaking out and writing, there is little that I, or anybody else, can do to encourage change in a rotten system where there is little political will to change it.

At least Kermit (my faithful AZUB recumbent trike) eases my thoughts and mind. Since starting this article we have ridden further and harder than at any point so far this year, and that gives me hope. At some point I will stop waiting for the expected hospital appointment, get on my trike and leave for another UK adventure.

My plan was to head towards Scotland and see where it leads me. I know I want to explore the pennines, especially the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve been before, many times, but only a few with a cycle. In my mind I can see me riding all the way to the north of Scotland and back, but my body doesn’t feel able at the moment, so I shall keep riding for now and see what materialises. I also want to see the Cheviot hills, North York moors, Bowland and many other places. Perhaps not all during one adventure, but over time.

In Scotland I want to ride north from Glasgow and then up the Great Glen all the way to Dunnet Head. My return would be via Edinburgh through the Cairngorm mountains, or possibly the Trossacks National Park and then east along the canal that joins these two, chalk and cheese cities. What it is to dream? I can almost feel the midges from here. I can feel the pull of the mountains. I cannot ignore the call, I never could. But for now, it isn’t a real possibility. I need to care for myself and let my body and mind regain their strength before pushing them into cycling a couple of thousand miles.

2007-08-28 12.58.09
The lure of the mountains never lessens for me. Scotland, Highlands.

Being patient can be frustrating. All I know at this moment is that now is not the time to leave on along cycle ride. There is none of that ‘feel the fear and do it anyway,’ because it isn’t fear that is keeping me at home. It’s simply that I know my mind and body well enough to admit that at this moment in time it would be a bad idea to leave. This is a skill I have developed over years. I cannot wait to escape the election rigmarole, the hum- drum of everyday life. I want to close my mind and eyes to the political mess we find ourselves in and open my eyes and ears to the outside world and its people, and just let it all in, moving slowly and living simply. It will happen. I will vote, but that is all. It’s just a matter of going when it feels right? That’s the best time to leave and I’m sure I’ll know when that is.

Until next time, enjoy the new site…………