Monday, 20 December 2010


"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Getting cross

Another couple of weeks since my last post. Apologies for the slackness.

I've carried on going into work... and managed every single day. Not necessarily long hours, not necessarily the most productive. But I've kept it up. I've gone in when I really didn't want to get out of bed, when I all I could think about was dark thoughts. But, where I used to allow them to beat me, I fought them. I stood up and walked away and concentrated on something else. Sometimes for 5 minutes only. But I did it.

I had the benefit of a treat at the end of the week to look forward to. Every few months my mates and I all meet in South Wales for a weekend of biking, catching up and a huge pub dinner on Saturday night. For the first time in so long, on any bike, I had that feeling. You know the one. Everything clicked. My pedals felt lighter than air. The singlespeed ate up climbs with a kind of inevitability. I didn't just feel fast on the descents, I felt playful. Hipping jumps just because I could, using every inch of trail and a bit more, drifting, and pumping. This is what trail centres are about. Mindless, childish, pointless fun. I felt myself. This is me. Giggling, and chatting and joking.

I guess it was inevitable that returning back to Leeds and work would be tricky, and I was kind of expecting it. Monday was awful. I reached for Diazepam for the first time in weeks. But, things have got better since. I've continued to run, gym and ride. I've continued to work towards being me all the time.

So, after a few days of a cloudy head when I got to work, that I couldn't shift until gone lunch, I tried something new this morning. On Wednesday night I packed my bags, laid out my kit, checked my bike. This morning I got up, got dressed, slung my leg over the cyclocross and rode into the dawn with a purpose. A quick warm up through Little Switzerland to Roundhay Park, then drills. Running up hills. Sprints. In rain. Then sleet. Then horizontal hail. And finally snow. I arrived in work sodden, cold and smelly. I sat in work for the rest of the day, awake, content and lively.

I guess I knew pedaling would be part of my cure... the title of the blog gives it away. I'm not sure even I realised out intimately linked my physical health and actions would be to my mental health though. I'm more than happy to live with that as long as I can ride my bike.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Day 2...

...back at work.

I was shattered when I went to bed last night. Couldn't keep my eyes open. I still woke up at 1am, 3am, 6am, then the alarm went off at 7am. I climbed on to the bus, read a bit of Laurent Fignon's autobiography (great book so far). Arrived at work at 8.30. And could have gone straight back to bed.

Instead, I had a coffee, flicked on my computer and really tried to concentrate. It took me all day to do what would normally take me a couple of hours. But I got somewhere, and didn't give up.

After work, I went to the gym again, and bumped into a couple of old training partners. Had the same conversation with them as I've had with lots of people.
"Not seen you in ages Tom"
"Yeah, I haven't been so well for the last couple of months, but I'm mostly better now"
"It's great to see you. You do look like you haven't been well. You've lost lots of weight haven't you. Do you mind if I ask what was wrong?"

Every time, I wonder what to say. Every time, I tell the truth. Sometimes it still feels like something I should be a little bit embarrassed about. I know I shouldn't. I'm almost angry that I feel like that.
"I've had a bout of depression, and it hit me quite hard. But, I'm getting over it"
"Oh, that's awful. I've had similar/a close friend.../my family..."

It's good to know how many people care. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who has ever been through this. I'm looking forward to people not being able to tell I've lost weight. I'm looking forward to feeling more confident again. I'm looking forward to not waking up and having to coach myself into getting on with the day. I know it'll come. I'm just looking forward to it, impatiently.

I felt on high yesterday. Happy with what I had achieved. Today feels different. I feel really quite sad and lonely. I can feel the loss and hurt from the last few weeks. I also feel determined though. I am not going to let this beat me. I am going to fight every step of the way. I am going make myself fitter than I have ever been before, mentally stronger than I have been before.

Time to sleep. Tomorrow is a big day. I'm going to get up. I'm going to go to work again.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Before I forget

... or fall asleep.

A few other positive things that I need to write properly about:
-A couple more races to add to my plans for next year
-Stripping down the old commuter bike for a full renovation
-Some other ideas for 2011

All about the little wins

And today was a slightly bigger one than recently.

There were times when I thought I would never get back to this point, and a few false starts along the way. But, today I went to work. I worked a full day.

Not exactly ground breaking, but 3 months ago I was at a point that I could barely string a sentence together. Then I couldn't get out of bed, or stop sleeping. Panic attacks were a regular occurrence. My head was cloudy, I was constantly confused. So, to walk into the office, to see people I haven't seen since September, to sit at a desk was a big deal.

I don't love my job. It isn't what I dreamt of doing all my life. It doesn't totally fulfill me. But... I realised while I was off, that it does define a big part of me. I get a lot of self-esteem from being good at what I do.

Today was an action packed day of... coffee with my boss. Then trying to clear my email account so I could actually start sending them again. Then starting some actual work. Nothing massively challenging today, but a nice clear route back to some real deadlines, and some more challenging stuff.

So, work done for the day, I decided to go to the gym. I haven't been since I stopped work. I'm not totally sure why. Cycling and running just felt like a better escape, and I was eating so little for a while that I don't think I'd have been strong enough to do a great deal. Turns out 3 months of no gym, turns Tom into a very weak boy. It was good to do a different kind of exercise though, and as with a lot of other things in my life at the moment, I know it'll get better.

I'm shattered now. But a content exhaustion, a tiredness that I haven't felt for a long time. I know that there are a lot of battles still to come, but the more there are, the more opportunities there are for little wins.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A post of two halves

So, as a running theme, stuff that has been good and not so good over the last week or so:

+Some wonderful rides over the weekend. Magical snowy ride on Saturday on the cyclocross bike. Sliding and skidding, gripping and railing round frozen ruts. Frozen water bottle, frozen shoes.
+Cannock Chase on Sunday. Travelled down with my longest friend, Sam (coming up to knowing each other for 20 years) to meet my mate Mark, who lives in Tamworth. Unfortunately he had to pull out, but we still had a fantastic loop round the Follow the Dog and Monkey Trails. There wasn't any snow there, but temperatures were bitter. The car thermometer read -9 when we pulled into the car park. Sensible layering meant we were nice and warm though. The trails were a little icy (I took a tumble on the first corner into the singletrack), but lovely and fast and zippy. Singlespeeding was tricky, as climbing out of the saddle almost instantly lead to the back wheel spinning out. I'm sure I turned the cranks twice as much as I should have needed to to get up some of the hills.
+Snow! I know not everyone appreciates it, and I am in a fortunate position of not having to battle my way into work everyday at the moment. But I just love it. Love how it makes even the most uninspiring view look a little bit prettier. Love the noise of walking/riding through it. Love the dull silence as noise is dampened.

+Seeing friends... had a lovely run with my friend Dave, and talked for hours about extremely geeky bike stuff.
+Getting my arse kicked... (see last post)
+A beautiful, brutal run today. 10 miles through a blizzard, through foot-deep snow. In suburban Leeds. There were times the snow was so heavy that as I did hill-reps it felt as though all I was breathing in were big sticky, dry flakes of snow. My eyelashes froze. Ace.

+Cognitive Based Therapy

Not so good
-Had a strange start to last week. Felt very low for a few days. Didn't plan much for myself. Didn't feel motivated to do so. Ended up promoting my own vicious cycle and felt like I was staring down into the pit yet again.
-The above meant I didn't do some of the relatively small things I wanted to do. I didn't organise going into work like I told myself I would do. I'm now due to go in tomorrow, but I doubt my boss will be able to make it over the Pennines in the weather, and it was mainly him I wanted to see.
-Lacking a vehicle is getting seriously annoying now and limiting my ability to do what I want to do. Number one on the list to purchase after xmas and cash flow is closer to normal.
-While writing this, I had the text from my girlfriend today. We have been barely communicating since she moved out. It has been so painful, and I guess from my point of view, I ended up burying my head in the sand. It was just easier to concentrate on the rest of life. The bits that I didn't need to worry or panic about. The bits that were solid. Creating my own little island. I know that this has been destructive to what was left of our relationship, but I just didn't know what else to do. I now have the same feeling of having my heart ripped out that I had when she moved out. The same feelings that I had when I was sitting opposite her and couldn't string together a sentence because all that was flying around my head were shards of emotions and thoughts. A storm of confused, bruised fragments of "me", churning in an almost drunken mist of weird suicidal, depressed thoughts, shouting and bullying to be heard.

She wants to drop her keys off, move on, and can't carry on waiting for me any more. I understand. As I said, I know I haven't helped the situation. I know I'm hurting her by shrinking into myself. I guess, if I'm honest, I felt abandoned when she moved out. Felt like I didn't want to open up to her, even when I was better able to talk, because other people would be more understanding. I hadn't hurt them. They only needed to worry about my feelings, they didn't need to protect their interests. I have still sat, staring at my phone, with her number ready to be dialled. Willing myself to call. But I didn't, and now it's too late.

Maybe it isn't too late, but I the second I feel any real pressure at the moment, I feel myself falling apart. I can feel the familiar creep of anxiety trying to pull me down into the depths. I feel sick. Time for a walk.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Arse kicked

I've not had a good week (see Wednesday's blog). I'm not absolutely sure why, but I haven't really helped myself. I didn't plan much for the week. I didn't push myself to leave the house. So each day, I didn't do anything. I drifted. While it isn't the case that I did literally nothing all week, I did find myself in a real pit of lethargy, self-pity and some deeply nasty dark thoughts.

Today, I got up. Did things. Went to town, met my sister, then met a friend for a drink or two after work. She kicked my arse. In the nicest possible kind of way. Sometimes my friends and family are so wonderfully caring, they cut me slack and tell me to do what is right for me. Sometimes I feel embarrassed telling them I ended up not helping myself as much as I should. Sometimes they forget I'm not quite the Tom that they know, and I'm not as proactive as normal. This particular friend has got personal experience of depression in her family, and she got, er a unique way of being brutally honest, without it ever coming across as brutal. She is a star.

So, tonight. I'm planning next week. If I genuinely can't stick to all the plans, then no big deal. But I will make sure that I give myself the best possible chance by organising some in the first place.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


A good friend came round tonight. We went for a quick 5 mile run, ate some tea, and I helped him strip an old bike he's going to do up.

-Black and grey

-Colour bleaches back in slowly

Such a beautiful evening for a run. Cold, crisp, but fine once we were moving. Dave's a fit lad, and could knock out 35min 10ks a few years ago. He's not run so much recently, so he began to tire before me, but we were as good as evenly matched. Up through Little Switzerland, over to Roundhay Park, back along Street Lane to Moortown Corner, and home, via the steps through Chapel Allerton park.

Soup, crusty bread and blue cheese.

Radio 6, a Cumberland Ale and getting hands dusty and oily.

Thanks Dave.

Plunged back into a world of black and grey

I don't know what's happened. I felt stronger. I felt positive.

Now I feel alone, want to be alone. Once again the world has lost its colour. I haven't exercised since Saturday. I simply can't find the motivation to. I've not really left the house too much. I haven't had much to leave it for, but that's suited me just fine.

I feel myself in a self-destructive cycle. I'm losing the energy to keep doing this. Back to the doctors tomorrow maybe.

Watching bits of life on a badly tuned tv. Moments of clarity make the haze and black harder to take.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Being off work makes the weeks blur together. My life isn't defined by the two days at the end of each week. To be honest, I'm really looking forward to building in some more structure, and getting a few days work in. Going to an office, interacting with more people again. Not long now.

Off to Dalby forest this morning with Peter. His wife and children are coming, and having a walk around some of the trails while do the red there. I've got a love/hate relationship with Dalby. It's great fun in the dry, and I like that it is longer than most trail centres. But... it doesn't have many real climbs or downhills, and in the wet the sandy mud destroys brake pads and bottom brackets in no time. But, for today it'll do me just fine. I haven't been there since the spring, and I haven't seen Peter for over a year, so it will be great to catch up.

Might sneak in a run when I get home, make some homemade pizza, before a couple of drinks out with friends this evening. Almost feels like a weekend!

Friday, 19 November 2010


Well, the house is gradually looking more like my home. It's a bitter-sweet feeling. I finally feel less empty while I'm here, but equally, I still think of it as "our" home. I almost don't want to give up that feeling.

I had a whopping 3 hrs sleep last night. Was wide awake at 2am. Listened to lots of episodes of A Brief History of Mathematics, which despite being interesting, tends to send me back to sleep within 10 mins. So, at 4am, I wandered downstairs in my Rab down coat, made a hot milk and settled down to read and listen to music. I also spotted that CRC were having a big sale, so accidentally bought some new waterproof overshoes for when I finally have a road bike again.

I think I dozed off briefly at 7ish, to be woken by next door's builders arriving at 7.15. Harumph.

Never mind. I'd been putting off washing and maintaining my bikes all week. Time to get wet. Downhill bike first - quick hose, soapy water, 5 mins and done. It wasn't too bad actually. Notice that both sets of pads are nearly to the metal, and the brakes probably need a bleed. I keep debating selling this bike. I barely ride it. I love it to pieces, and I've time I do spend time on it, I come home with the biggest grin... but... I like to ride my bikes. Not push them up hills, not sit in a truck getting bounced around. If I lived in the Alps, or even Fort William/Glen Coe, I'd be on the gondola every week. Sadly, pushing up a track in Wharncliff or similar doesn't really do it for me. I'm just worried that I won't get a great deal for it, but I would love a 5-6inch fun bike that I can play on DH courses with, but also ride up big mountains when the want takes me. Wonder if Brant at Shedfire will give me a new Nukeproof Mega if I keep mentioning it in my blog often enough? I can but dream...

2nd up... CX bike. Nice and easy. Nowt to do other than a thorough clean, although I did notice the brake blocks have worn a lot over the last week or so. Time to get some more ready to swap in.

3rd up... the On-One. This was hidden under a thick layer of clay-mud from Cannock a week or so back. Would have been better with archaeological brushes and tools to uncover the bike underneath. Bottom bracket was seized, and I had a new one ready to swap in, but after a bit of cleaning and regreasing, it was actually running relatively smoothly again. Score. The On-One is currently set up in fully rigid guise. This was not meant to be a long term thing. I like to ride my bikes downhill as fast I am capable. Rigid forks are not always particularly conducive to this... but my Rock Shox Revelations died earlier in the year and they are back with Fishers awaiting a new MoCo cartridge under warrantee. I bought the rigid forks as a stop gap. They've been more fun than I was expecting, and actually don't hinder speed too much, unless it is really rough. Looking forward to getting some nice bolt-through 140mm travel back though.

So... bikes cleaned, repaired as far as possible... and now settled into their new home. As I have the house all to myself, I've converted the "dressing room" into the "bike room".

Bike maintenance done. Time for some personal maintenance. I've been meaning to get my hair cut for at least a couple of weeks... it has got to the so wild it doesn't even look it's deliberately meant to be like that stage. Just need a cup of tea first...

Thursday, 18 November 2010


The blackest thoughts come when you least expect it.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Good advice

I am agnostic, but really identified with this text message a friend sent me.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Thanks Tom (my friend, I haven't started referring to myself in the 3rd person).

Monday, 15 November 2010

Our Fold - Belt Tap and Needle

Just in case you were wondering where the title of the last post came from. This might have popped onto my ipod while I was riding.

10 man army of skin and bones

Very weird week. Learned lots.

Discovered that getting better isn't just steady progress day after day. Had a few low, low days. Not always caused by anything. Some of them were. Sitting in an empty house, feeling very alone isn't always conducive to finding perspective either.

But, I got over them, and despite, or because of those days, I feel a bit stronger again.

  • Nice meeting with my boss. Lovely card from my colleagues. I certainly wasn't ready to go into work that day, but it has properly started to sow seeds in my mind and I can more easily visualise a route back to working.
  • Returning to climbing, around 3 years since I last climbed regularly. I'm weak, I've got poor technique, but it has been fun. Had forgotten the simple pleasure of staring at a piece of rock (or climbing wall as it was) for 5 mins, trying to visualise how to reach the top.
  • House beginning to feel closer to a home. Not the home that I had before, but somewhere that I don't feel on edge or alien to.
  • I've started carrying a mini sketch pad with me, whenever I go out. I have very limited artistic ability, but have enjoyed doodling away over a long coffee or two when my head feels too crowded to read.
  • The ongoing love and support of family and friends. Amazing.
  • Painful, horrible discussions with my girlfriend.
  • The fear that the loneliness, the feeling weak won't go away. That this is my life now.
  • Going into town with a list of three simple jobs. Haircut, bank, food. Feeling so confused, and scared that I had to turn round and come back home.
  • No bike riding for most of the last week.
  • Looking in the mirror and seeing a gangly collection of skin and bones, where well defined, lean muscle used to be. It feels like my physical state is representing my mental state.
So, this morning, I got up, and loped downstairs. Hoodie pulled over my (now quite wild - see above) hair, conserving some warmth. Bare feet on cold tiles. Moka pot primed and on the stove. Heating flicked on. Cereal eaten. Silence. Curtains opened. Frost. Winter blue skies. Pastel morning sun.

Bib longs. Thermal vest. Softshell. Merino socks. Autumn full finger gloves. Cap under helmet. CX bike (still waiting for insurance company payment to let me replace my road bike (RIP)). Click. Click. Pedals engaged. Purr of a Mavic freehub. Out of the saddle, then into a spinny gear to generate some warmth. First climb feels wonderful. Cold air catches the back of my throat. Legs feeling ever so slightly restricted as flexing knees pull at tight fitting lycra.

Turn off tarmac for the ribbon of bridleway past Golden Acre Park. Stop for a pic.

Skate over wet leaves. Frost has already retreated to the most sheltered, shady parts of trail. God, I can tell I haven't ridden for a week. The bike feels unwieldy. I'm fighting to make it go where I want it to. I'm getting bumped off line, my legs don't want to transfer power to the pedals. Frustrating.

As minutes and pedal strokes tick by, familiarity returns. Back straightens, shoulders relax, legs push. Lungs find a rhythm. I thread my way through the Emmerdale set, and through the grounds of Harewood House. I dare a smile as the bike skips around under me, and I hop and pump through dips and bumps on the trail.

  • When you live by yourself there is no one to tell you that the very muddy bike should not be in the living room.
  • It still needs a wash.

So, start of a new week, and I feel stronger. I will carry on surviving and fighting and taking every moment of pleasure I can. I am a 10 man army of skin and bones...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Good and bad

Keeping with the lists theme, I'm doing a bit of a retrospective of the last week or so.

•Bike ride with great friends on Saturday. Travelled to Cannock Chase, as a central meeting between Sam and me, based in Leeds (and Rob who was up for the weekend) and Mark (Tamworth) and Rich (Oxfordshire). Rode Follow the Dog and the Monkey Trail. I was really surprised at how good and generally fun the trails were. They really make the most of the landscape and limited altitude to create a fantastic mellow, flowing red route, with some interesting, though not overly technical short black options. I wouldn't travel 2 1/2 hours purely to ride here, but will be happy to meet friends there again.
•Short blasts on the CX bike first thing in the morning. No more than 2 hours. No less than exhausted when I get home. Definitely good for my mental health
•Lunch with an old friend and her two year old boy. Don't often get to play cars or diggers when you are 30. (er it was nice to see you too Gemma)
•Headtorch-lit trail run above and around Halifax. Standing on top of Beacon Hill, looking over the Halifax town centre, stretching out to Wainhouse Tower and the moors beyond. Had a few issues with my light shining off misty breath, making it difficult to see. Tempted to get a dedicated headtorch for running. Can anyone recommend a relatively cheap one? Alpkit? Back to the run. For a few short minutes I felt totally and utterly calm. No stress, no worries, not even the nagging sensation that I should be worrying about something. As I hit road again, my mind started wandering, and again the familiar stress drifted back, like the annoying guy at the bar you chatted to once, but now insists on sharing his wisdom with you while you settle down to a quiet pint.

Not so good:

•My girlfriend moved out yesterday, into a room in a shared house 10 minutes away. I helped as best I could, but my head wasn't doing me any favours, and I made things worse, other than being able to move the heavy stuff. I don't know what's going to happen now. I can't picture a way back. I like being able to dream, to visualise, to be able to create what I want in my head, in every detail, so I can almost touch it. I still just feel empty, shell shocked and heartbroken.
•I hate that I'm hurting someone that I love so much. It is all consuming. I have found it so hard to think about anything else. I have to fight the deep miserable sense of loss, guilt and self-hatred. The tips of my fingers are hanging on by the last joint to sanity, to a life, to wanting to exist. It could be so easy to let go and revel in a spiral down into the darkest nastiest depths.
•My (our?) house no longer feels like a home. It felt like a dirty hovel last night, with bizarre, fake holes torn out where the tell-tales of happy co-habitation once were. Suze's favourite mug gone, 75% fewer shoes by the door. An empty dressing room. Dusty footprints where furniture once rested.
•I couldn't face tidying last night. I couldn't really face it this morning, but started it anyway. Started with the bedroom. It almost feels clean and like my room now. Its hard though. I don't really want "my room". But, like the medication, I know deep down it's what I need and good for me. Certainly better than a tangle of hangers on the floor and piles of books stacked on half opened drawers.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Keeping busy...

All being well, this will hopefully be my last week of no work. I don't think I'm ready to launch straight back in full time, but equally, I feel like I want to start doing some.

I've got a lot to get done this week... not compared to "normal" Tom, but a lot for Tom who has been struggling to concentrate, or even get out of bed some days.

-Chase up my insurance claim r.e. road bike crash
-Buy some new bib shorts
-Buy my girlfriend's birthday present (main stuff sorted, but still need to get her a last gift)
-Sort out house after decorator painted it this weekend
-Meet friend on Wednesday lunchtime
-Meet girlfriend on Wednesday teatime
-Long ride on Thursday (today's planned long ride has been shortened to a couple of hours this afternoon)
-Meet some mates on Thursday evening
-Long ride on Saturday or Sunday and a social mountain bike ride on the other day

I never used to like lists, but they're growing on me.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

And then...

... somedays you wake up feeling the same as you went to bed.

But, you get up. And despite the situation being exactly the same, you face the world and take a few steps, feeling that little bit stronger.

Thanks to everyone who sent me lovely messages last night. It was definitely one of the lowest points I've had. Definitely since I started taking medication.

I'm sure there will be more. But, I got through it, so I will again.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


More bad days. Crumbling relationship. Crumbling mental strength. Crumbling life.

Tired of trying to feel ok. Tired of trying to be positive. Tired of crying. Tired of trying to talk. Tired of loneliness. Tired of enforced company. Tired of sleeping in different beds. Tired of not sleeping when I'm in what's meant to be my home. Tired of hugs from everyone except for the person I need them from. Tired of feeling guilty. Tired of humiliation. Tired of explaining to people who don't need to know. Tired of being analysed. Tired of advice. Tired of waiting. Tired of emptiness. Tired of uncertainty.

Tired of life.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better. It probably won't, but at least I'll have survived another day.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Another for the "to do" list

Scotland Coast-Coast race

I'm tempted to enter "racer". "Challenger" doesn't really look challenging enough, and I ain't no expert.

Have dropped an email to my regular mountain marathon race partner (and uncle) to see if he fancies doing it as a pair.

EDIT - thanks to Rob Lee for tweeting about this, otherwise I probably wouldn't have known the race existed. I'm also very humbled to see that he's following this blog. Check out Rob's blog for some inspirational biking exploits.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A little bit back to front...

Going to talk about today, then cover the last few in another post, hopefully later this evening.

Generally though, it hasn't been a good couple of days. Relationship problems on top of changing drug dosages had led to a mood that, at best, was... cloudy?

I went into Leeds this morning. The plan was to meet up with an old friend. Unfortunately she couldn't make it, and I was feeling worse and worse about other things. I wandered around. Bought a couple of magazines, (new Singletrack magazine looks like a great read. Couldn't really concentrate enough to read the proper articles, but the Lakes piece looks particularly interesting). Drank lots of coffee.

Sat on the bus home. I know a lot of people hate public transport, but I love it. Genuinely think it is a great way to get around. Admittedly, it is less fun when I'm commuting everyday using it, but for everything else, it makes it feel more like a "trip" than a job. Sat on the top deck, staring out, somewhat zombie like. Ipod on. I was probably one of those annoying people that have headphones bleeding tsk, tsk, tsk. Sorry. I'm not normally like that.

I had an overwhelming urge to ride a bike. Any bike really. It wasn't just riding though. I wanted to cause myself as much pain as possible. Ride as hard as I could until my legs refused to turn another pedal. Until I passed out with oxygen deprivation, or simply just spontaneously combusted. It would certainly make an interesting sight for my fellow road users. A raging ball of flames, hopefully leaving a 'Back to the Future' style tyre track in my wake.

Home. Change quick before the urge leaves me. Jump on the CX bike. No warm up. No gentle spin to get the blood moving. Pump, pump, pump out the door. A reassuring, soft, tunk, tunk, tunk as the chain moves down the cassette.

My lungs haven't caught up with my legs and I'm invincible for a minute. Then the realisation, that, actually, I might need to breathe soon. Quite a lot. Lungs begin to rasp for air. Ugly, deep breaths. I need this. I settle into a rhythm of sorts, but I'm more than aware that I'm pushing harder than normal. I need this. Seriously thirsty. Hmm... I've only had 3 coffees today. Excellent hydration preparation. Suck on water bottle between breaths. Spill lots. Classy.

Tyres hit the sand of Otley Chevin. I pedal harder. Carve my way round corners. Knee out, straight on the power. Stay in the drops, ruin myself on the climbs. I can taste blood at the back of my throat. Twinges of cramp are appearing already. Hmm... that'll be my hydration strategy bearing fruit. A quick figure of eight and I'm back on the road. No warm down, just head down, power back. No dabbing brakes, no easing up. I need this.

Home. Endorphins are rushing. And I feel normal. My life is still a mess. I know that I'm still a mess. But for an hour, all I had to deal with was physical pain. I didn't think, I didn't worry. I didn't want to hide or disappear. Self harm. Sometimes, it's good for you.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Looking for replacements

I think this has to be number one. Ooo. White, shiny, carbon, beautifulness. Love it.

Chasing Legends

As a nice distraction from aching on Thursday night, I'd bought three friends and me tickets for Chasing Legends

A great piece of cinema and wonderful to see it on a big screen. Buy the DVD. You won't regret it.

The boring stuff

So. I've had the bike checked out by a mechanic. It's basically a write-off. Visible damage includes:
-Buckled wheels
-Bent cranks
-Bent handlebars
-Broken r/h shifter
-Saddle torn of the rails
-R/h pedal axle bent
And the rear triangle of the bike is misaligned.

Most of my clothes are ripped.

I asked a question over on, asking for others experiences of making claims. I got some useful advice, and the usual not so useful advice.

I also got an email from a very nice email from a solicitor. He offered to give me some real-world advice over the phone for free. I took him up on the offer. He has incredibly generously offered to help me with my claim, pro bono. There are some very, very good people in this world.

I've compiled a full list of the cost of replacing everything. It's around £1500. I'll be emailing it over to the solicitor this weekend, along with all the other details. Then we'll see what happens.


As some of you, who have been reading my tweets will know, I had a bike crash on Thursday.

I've crashed my bikes innumerable times:
-Oops, overshot that jump
-Oops, not quite enough speed for that drop
-Oops, where did that rock come from etc, etc, etc

All my previous crashes have had something in common. They were all my fault. I didn't read the trail properly, incorrect speed for the conditions or just d'oh, that was stupid. Thursday's crash was a bit different.

I was trying to muster up enthusiasm to ride all day. It was chilly, grey, windy. I was feeling generally a bit low (thanks head). Finally, at 14.30 I hauled myself out of the house, on my beautiful, shiny road bike. It's been a few weeks since I last rode it. I'd forgotten how quickly it accelerates on those beautiful smooth tyres. Out of the saddle, up the gentle hill out of the door of my sister's house. The sun was out, my clothes were perfect for the conditions. I felt good already, and I'd only gone 100 metres. Pulled out on to the main road and zip, zip, zip as cranked up to a comfortable speed and span "I've been sitting down all day" legs out.

Up the A65 and out onto quieter back lanes, somewhere between Horsforth and Ilkley. Roads I've not ridden or driven since living in Yeadon around 7 years ago. Headwind felt like a chore, but who cares. It'll be a tailwind on the way home. Everything was perfect. Climbs were taken with the perfect cadence. Alberto would need to eat all the dodgy meat in the world to ride faster than me today.

Arrived at the Cow and Calf and had a quick can of coke from the little cabin. Turned around and headed home. If I was feeling good on the way out, I felt superhuman on the way home. The power of the tailwind. Better than Fabian's motor. Nearly back to the A65, down Hollins Hill and back up Old Hollings Hill, just for the sake of it. Rejoin the A65, and steady away back down to Pooky and Grumps for an espresso in the sun.

Cruising along, noticing the early evening commuters heading home, mums finishing school runs. Feeling smug that perhaps being on sick leave has a couple of benefits.

Into the drops as the A65 steadily descends down to the ring road. Spinning at 30mph, one finger on the brakes, ready for the usual bad driving.

Then something went a bit wrong. Riding past a side road on the left, a driver is looking to her left, indicating to turn right. I can't make eye contact, as she is looking the other way. I instinctively drift a little wider into the middle of the lane. I pass her, then BANG.

I'm down and slide down the tarmac on my back side. I feel the back of my helmet dragging on the road. I slide, and slide and slide. I'm never going to stop. FUCK. She hit me. The stupid fucking bitch, fucking hit me! I eventually come to a halt. Everything is very, very quiet. I'm conscious and aware that I don't think I'm hurt. I'm tangled around the bike and I don't want to move. So just lie and look up at the blue, blue sky. Please, please, please don't let me have broken anything. Please. I need cycling now. I need it more than I need anti-depressives, I need it more than I need almost anything.

The blue sky fills with concerned, shocked, white faces. An ambulance is on its way. I'm helped to the pavement and the adrenaline kicks it. I'm ok. My bike is a mess, but I'm ok. Grazes, bruises, but nothing else. I almost smile. The driver comes over. She is shaking, crying. Every bit of anger I have for, every bit of vengeance I want to take out, I bury. Now isn't the time. She knows the gravity of her actions.

.... ok, this is turning into a bit of an epic post, so lets speed things up a bit...

Ambulance arrives. They are ace. I'm ok. Hot paramedic applies dressing to my bum. Score.
Police arrive. Witnesses give statements confirming driver is at fault.
I give statement, and get all the drivers details from the officer.
Lift back to my sisters, and I'm high as a kite on adrenaline.
And take out my anger by swearing a lot

.... The police have told me the driver will have to do an "improve your driving" course, at her own cost (approx £200). If she refuses to, they will charge her with driving without due care and attention.

I'm alive I can still ride. Bizarrely, after a lot of weeks of wishing I was dead, this is very good news.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Diversionary tactics

Sometimes very little things cheer you up. Thanks Mr Postman and eBay.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The new cyclocross bike


Week 3 of 3... of being signed off work with depression and anxiety.

I think I could count the total number of sick days I've ever had until now on one hand.

A few months ago things started going badly wrong in my head. There was no apparent cause, no horrible trauma, no major stresses. But I started feeling down and isolated. It strained my relationship, which made me feel worse and more alone. I couldn't concentrate at work, which made me feel worse, because I take pride in being good at what I do. Slowly but surely, something inside me has been eating away, taking away everything that makes me, me. Incessant gnawing. I have become an empty shell. Incapable of real emotion. Just black emptiness and the deep, deep feeling of loss and helplessness that accompanies it. I feel like a black hole, sucking in all my girlfriend's emotion, giving nothing back. I see the strain it puts on her and my family.

I don't do crying. Sorry. I didn't do crying. I've done weeping like a baby quite regularly recently.

I'm a social person. Sorry. I was a social person. I isolated myself as much I could recently.

I thrive on exercise and pushing myself. Sorry. That was me... gym visits became less regular. Bikes sat, only being taken out through sheer guilt. Not because I had that aching desire to just be free and ride.


4 weeks ago, I crumbled. Like a balloon that had slowly been loosing helium, there reached the point where I could no longer stay floating.

My GP prescribed me anti-depressants. Citalopram for the medium-long term. Diazepam for the few weeks it would take for the Citalopram to take affect. Well. The Diazepam kind of worked. I didn't feel as low any more. I just slept instead. For 18 hours a day. Whoop. Blissful, dreamless, anxiety free sleep.

The relief of no work lifted another weight of my shoulders. I wheeled out the slightly neglected road bike. Pulled on lycra that was already slightly less tight fitting than a couple of months before. And I rode. Not far. 40 miles. It exhausted me. But there were sparks. Endorphins were firing around my brain. I actually smiled. A genuine, joyful, toothy grin. Not the watery "everything's ok, except it's not" smiles of recent times.


A couple of weeks down the line... I've carried on riding. And feel better for it. I feeling stronger in every sense, every day. My relationship is still a mess, but I have discovered something. It is called optimism. It is a brilliant, wonderful thing. It abandons me some days. But they are becoming less regular.

I've been reminded (as if I needed it) how wonderful my friends and family are. And through talking to them, I have built even stronger ties.

I've also bought a new bike (pics to follow). One that was missing from my quiver. A cyclocross bike. Part inspired by reading others blogs, part inspired by watching the 3 Peaks Cyclocross, and local races. Partly because you can never have enough bikes.


And the future. I'm going to work for a couple of days next week. I'm also going to start going to the gym. I'm currently living between my house in Chapel Allerton, my sister's in Horsforth and my parent's in Halifax. It isn't perfect, but the change is actually helping.

I'm going to ride as often as I can. On the to buy list:
-decent lights
-turbo trainer

I'm also going to try some cyclocross races for myself.


Bigger challenges await. Mental and physical. I will get through them though. I will break the cycle of depression.