Some days are harder than others at the moment. Some minutes are harder than others. Those moments just after waking up, when reality hits again, don't get easier. Riding bikes was hard for a while. I may have ridden bikes for long before I met Jenn, but it was something we did together, and never will again.
Riding bikes, being outside, doing things outside it who I am though. I need to do it. I need it more now than ever. The support of family, friends and the biking community as a whole has helped me keep going. One step in front of another, one pedal stroke after the next. Every message, hug, kind word spoke, gift, letter, moment of company has meant the world to me. Each one is stored away for when I need it.
I was riding yesterday. The third day in a row that I'd been out, in the wind and rain again. Seeking head space, seeking some base fitness, seeking the beginning of something new, whatever "new" might be. I heaved the fixed wheel up the climb out of Menston to the back of Ilkley Moor. I was only 30 minutes into riding, but my legs and heart had had enough. I stopped in the mist. Told myself to ride to Ilkley. I could turn around then. I rode past Ilkley. I could turn around at Bolton Abbey. My tired legs trembled, I grew more tired, but continued to my furthest planned point - Appletreewick. I tried not to think that I still had to return. I tried not to think that the distance was modest, and that in years gone by this was a post-work "fun" loop in the summer. I just thought about what my wife would do, and made a point of looking at the view when I wasn't staring at the patch of tarmac in front of my front wheel, up each of the bastard little ramps which were definitely not there when I rode this road a week or so ago. But, I got round. I felt better for it. Felt better for not quitting, making it through another day.
I can't ride all the time though. This morning was a three coffee morning. I tried to lie in, but my mind, despite being foggy with tiredness revelled in playing games. Up. Make headway into the mountain of washing. Do day-to-day things. Mundanity.
The postman knocked at the door. The same postman who delivered wedding cards, who knew to wait a couple of minutes longer when Jenn was ill and slowing down, who checks I'm "okay". I signed for a parcel, and opened it. It was from a friend, a friend who despite having never quite managing to plan a ride together (we live at the opposite ends of the country) knows me well.
I kept opening the smaller parcels within, overwhelmed. The picture below says it all.
So, a heartfelt thank you to Lee, and to the companies who came together to help him help a mate. Next time I'm riding and it is all a bit too much. I'll have a visual reminder of why I will keep on going. Thank you also to the wider community - I was going to say friends, but it include people who I've never met. I was going to say biking community, but it includes runners, or as we sometimes like to call them, just People. Good people. Thanks for every little bit of help and support. It all keeps me going when I can't do it myself.
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