Back in 2013, apart from having a few allergies and intolerances I was a healthy, energetic, and fit individual who was always on the go and nothing stopped me. I would think nothing of going for a 110-length swim, then a 6 mile walk and then going for a 20-mile bike ride with the family later in the day. Our summer holiday that year involved the whole family cycling 222km along the C2C, Whitehaven to Tynemouth route. It was a fantastic holiday of fresh air, sunshine, adventure and great companionship. It wasn’t without its challenges though, especially as my 12-year-old daughter came off her bike really badly on the second to last day. The pair of us ended up in A&E having her concussion treated. However, after patching her up, cobbling together replacement clothing, purchasing a new cycle helmet and getting the ‘all clear’ from the doctors, we re-joined my husband and son and completed the final leg of the route the next day.
Over the next few months, it niggled away at my daughter and I that there was a section of the route which we had been unable to do. So, in May 2014 she and I returned to the accident site and cycled the missing section as a sponsored ‘Back in the Saddle’ event in aid of BuDS. It was the wettest and most miserable day imaginable, but we felt such a sense of achievement when we had done it. Our challenge was finally complete!
Then in July 2014 my life changed dramatically overnight. Without going into too many details, it seemed that my body had decided to rebel against me. Amongst other things, I ended up with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and, several years down the line, was also diagnosed with hypermobile Elhers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). I no longer have the unlimited energy I used to have. I have to think about the amount of spoons of energy I can give to all I do throughout each day and sometimes those spoons just run out. I know I must pace myself and think about how I can break tasks down into small and more manageable chunks so that I can still achieve things that I want to do.
In February 2015 I decided I needed to focus on regaining some control in my life. I took my sturdy walking stick and I started a daily walk. I couldn’t go far, I couldn’t go fast, but it gave me a sense of achievement every time I went out. Then in April 2016 I got my exercise bike. To start with I could only manage 2 minutes a day on the easiest setting. However, over the last 5 years I have worked and worked and have built up my strength, stamina and determination. I still can’t go fast and my family often laugh at me wrapped up in many layers of clothing, as I try to keep warm, and slowly pedal away. However, I’m still going and now I can manage to pedal for an hour a day. In that time, I can manage between 4.5 – 5.5 km. It’s not far, but it feels good to be moving. It’s not the same as cycling in the fresh air, in our amazing British countryside, but it’s the best that I can manage, and I’m happy with that.
Now, it’s January 2021. 2020 was one of the trickiest years I think any of us have ever experienced. No one is able to go far from home and everyone is finding different ways to cope. I am a positive person and it’s always important to me to find the best in things and find ways to move forwards. I have therefore decided that my challenge for the next year is going to be cycling from Land’s End to John o’Groats. Now obviously that’s not going to happen out in the real world. There’s no way I could manage it on a real bicycle, but on my exercise bike and taking it one tiny bit at a time, I know I can achieve it. I will achieve my goal! I believe that it will take me approximately one whole year to pedal the virtual road all the way from the start to the finish. I am therefore setting myself the target of starting on 24th January 2021 and finishing by 24th January 2022. I hope that you will support me in my challenge. I will be using a tracking website to help me and I intent to update everyone regularly with how far I have got, so please do check in and see how I am getting on.
To get updates about how I’m doing and where I’ve got to, take a look at my blog posts.
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