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.