I’m finding it hard, very hard. I openly talk about my depression these days, in the hope my being open and honest about an illness that is still widely misunderstood will be of some help to others. Since the death of Mike Hall at the end of March I’ve retreated into my own bubble and it’s a struggle even to complete my daily tasks. Training? Well I’m still doing something, but the structure has disappeared and I’m constantly asking myself “why are you doing this?”, as at the moment the magic has gone. I’d like to be inspired, but using the hashtag #BeMoreMike just makes me wonder if all I’m doing is preparing to become another statistic, another casualty out on the open road. Surely with all the miles I’m riding, it’s only a matter of time?
OK get a grip Derek, stop feeling sorry for yourself and watch the video…
It’s strange, because the only relief seems to come when I’m pushing myself, when I’m actually testing my limits. Home life just doesn’t work for me, despite the fact I love Hilke and Natascha more than anything else in the world. Why do I need to be doing some crazy challenge or endurance ride to feel happy? I don’t have the answer, I only know that for me, extreme exercise (or the thought of it) gives me a reason to get out of bed in a morning. Next weekend I’ll spend another few nights without sleep (I’m not fast, but can go days without needing sleep), as I travel and then ride over 600km without a break. Just another TCR training weekend. The kit testing part is fun, learning what works and what doesn’t. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to setting up the bike, everything has to be tidy and functional and I’m still playing around with the cockpit area having just added two feed bags (see photo above) which is a neat way of adding additional storage space and putting things within easy reach. I think I’m almost there with the bike setup.
The event – (if it goes ahead after Mike’s death) is still three months away, yet I just want to get on with it. If I had the funds, I’d be entering other similar unsupported races as part of the training routine and I’m pretty sure this would help with my ‘TCR blues’, but it’s simply not possible at this time. I’m immensely proud of what I’m doing to actually be able to take part in the TCR and complete training ‘away days’ with all the subsequent costs. We just don’t have the means for me to keep taking off or buy equipment, so I’ve taken on an evening cleaning job, mopping floors and cleaning toilets just to raise the extra cash. I’ve swallowed my pride and I’m doing what I have to. It’s not glamorous, but I’m past caring as the sense of achievement knowing I’m doing what it takes makes it worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some help with a few sponsors who have come onboard and I’m extremely grateful. There’s a good story here and I’ll be repaying the faith they have shown in me, because if I can be relied upon to do anything, it’s proving I can do what others consider ‘impossible’.
TCR will be just a warm up though. If (as I hope) I’m more than just a little competitive, then I will seek further challenges until I can finally say “OK I’ve found my limit, that’s as far as I can go” – but given what I’ve already accomplished, that seems a long way off. As I said in a previous blog post, Mike Hall inspired me and set the bar pretty high, but it’s me who has to decide how far a 60 year old cancer survivor with only one lung can go!
I’m a very active fundraiser, but the cost of taking part in different events is more often than not too prohibitive for me. I make no apologies for continuing to ask for help to be able to take part in these fundraising activities later this year (and next – I will be riding across America in support of WBR) and children’s cancer. If you like my articles or just want to help out, consider making a small donation to my efforts. Thank You.
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