Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Me on Sunday 1 June after a 55 miler and 0.5 miles from home. Bike is a write off. I walked out of A&E 3 hrs later with bruising and a very sore left shoulder.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Cycling Back To Happiness

Thought this might be worth sharing. Apologies if you've already read it elsewhere.

Early on in 2013 I began to feel a bit down never really having suffered with personal mental health issues before. I shrugged it off as I took delivery of my new bike, the days lengthened and I prepared for the 1400km London-Edinburgh-London Audax (LEL) at the end of July. Come October, LEL and Super Randonneur series completed and the nights drawing in, the depression returned with a vengeance.

Mostly this was related to a stressful work environment, in fact thru October I was 'dealing' with the stress by drinking after every shift as I couldn't switch off any other way. This was obviously not a long term solution and I was hanging on for a week’s annual leave at the end of October. I didn't make the holiday before bursting into tears in the middle of a clinical area (I'm a Charge Nurse in A&E). I felt terrible and seriously thought about resigning on the spot. I even gave up on my Imperial Century a Month challenge nine months in!

The holiday was a temporary reprieve but ultimately work was still a major issue so, after long chats with my wife, on return to the UK I went to see my GP. The few weeks since then have been a bit of rollercoaster to say the least. He signed me off work, started me on antidepressants, we agreed some counselling and he has reviewed me at fortnightly intervals since. A few days after first seeing the GP I was knocked off my bike by a pedestrian, ending up with facial bruising, dental damage, 40 min memory loss and a poorly bike. I'd been cycling trying to keep positive and active. Cycling was temporarily halted but at least I was alive.

At this point sleeping was terrible, I felt negative about everything all the time (awake or asleep), I was having trouble interacting with my 7 year old who in turn started to keep her distance and my wife and I were in different beds as I was so restless. Can't work, can't sleep, family life in turmoil, stopped driving (didn't feel safe), not cycling - I felt I was being stripped of my life! My wife, family, work colleagues and friends were all really supportive but the first two weeks on meds things didn't get better but worse (often the case).

The bike went for repair and once my eye was open I started cycling on another bike. Just short distances to start with but it got me out of the house and gave me something I could actually enjoy for a while. Three weeks in I was back up to 30 miles on my newly repaired bike and last week managed 50 miles without too much difficulty (although I felt tired keeping up with cycling buddies on the hills). Sleep in still an issue and I've just started a short course of night sedation. However, my mood is now much better, work is not such a focus and I plan to return in the New Year.

For me cycling has provided some reprieve, motivation, exercise, enjoyment as well as a yardstick to measure progress. I've not always wanted to get the bike out, particularly on cold wet days, but have always felt better after making the effort. I couldn't have got this far without a great GP and medication, counselling and my wonderful wife. Cycling has been a great help for me thru this period. If I didn't already cycle I might have found something else. However, I can't overestimate the positive impact it has had for me.

So, I suppose what I want to say to anyone reading this who might be in a similar situation is: Things can get better, seek help and don't struggle by yourself, medications can be a useful aid to get you in better mental state to address problems, counselling can be very useful and, whatever you do, keep as active as possible - preferably on a bike.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

LEL 2013. Done.

For anyone stumbling on this blog and wondering how I went on with LEL, I can happily report I completed it with time to spare and no major mishaps.

This is a link to an animated position graph. It shows me as a red dot. I started towards the back of the field at 09.45hr. About 1000 riders started and approx 800 completed in time.

And here is my medal :-)

Monday, 4 February 2013

LEL Prep - Weeks 3-5

The cold, snowy, icy weather was making the planned 200km audax look like a bad idea. However, after a big snowfall on the Friday, it melted, the rain came Saturday and night temps stayed around 6 degrees celcius so it all looked better. I decided to go for it but was concious the roads would be full detritus and there may be localized flooding so opted to ride the heavy, mudguarded, bullet proof tourer in preference to the road bike.

I cycled the 11 miles to the start and joined the 80 or so other cyclists for an 08.00hrs start. The weather was cold and showery with a fierce headwind on the outward leg. I found I was not achieving my expected average speed although was still within the audax time limits. I put this down to the heavy bike, the headwind and the undulating rather than 'flat' terrain i had expected.  Flooding was quite severe as well - often several metres long and above hub height in places with no way round. This slowed things down a tad too.

On the return leg, darkness had descended as I made my way along some unlit country lanes towards Wilmslow. The bike and lights were working well but I had been on the go for 11 hrs or so and covered 120 odd miles. My right knee was playing up and the GPS display had stopped lighting up due to a low battery. The knee has been a teeny bit painful for a few months and i wondered if it was down to age related changes made worse by the distance cycled - not good news if this was the case. I was still able to cycle on it but was having to take it much easier so my speed dropped further and i started to get cold. The GPS was revitalised with a plug in battery pack for another hr or so before this gave up the ghost.

I was now just 6 or 7 miles from the finish but cold, in pain and not sure which way to go along the unlit and generally unsigned lanes. I decided to quit and cycled a couple of miles to Alderley Edge to find a pub and arrange a lift. I still could have finished the audax in time and would have done my first 200k of 2013 but I had achieved what i'd set out to do. I had covered the distance without too much problem and done my imperial century for January. I'd confirmed my heavy bike is not the one to use for audaxing and decided the Edge 705 GPS, even with an external battery pack, is not adequate for 10+ hr rides.

So my wife collected me from a pub a few whiskys later. The next day I hobbled into work (A&E) and got an XR of the leg. No bony changes found - PHEW! The pain also changed in nature and became more of a band like pain down the outer thigh so probably muscular in origin. Painkillers helped and within 3 days I was walking almost normally. I didn't ride the bike for 5 days though!

Monday, 14 January 2013

LEL Prep - Weeks 1-2

Things have not got off to a good start but, hey ho, early days yet.

My aim to cycle al least 100 miles a week (measured as an average over a month) has been dealt a blow. I set off to do a 50-60 mile ride last week on my road bike and promptly broke the ratchet in my SRAM rear gear lever within a mile of home. I spent most of the day getting a replacement sorted out. Scratch that day. Tomorrow I was due to lead a 110 mile ride for my cycle club but I've postponed that due to the current inclement weather. Bang goes more miles and also my first shot at this months imperial century ride. I'm doing a shorter ride tomorrow and have a 200k audax booked at the end of the month so hopefully I can still make my targets.

Current distance for 2013: 125 miles.