Riding and writing

I had another seizure on the bike yesterday, the third in eight days and the third in four bike rides.

I have to face facts: something is changing up there in my brain. Even prior to beginning anti-convulsant drugs, I’d only have a seizure every couple of weeks or so.

I’ve decided not to go out with a cycling club until doctors have increased my medication and things have calmed down. That makes me incredibly sad.

I love being out on the bike doing the long miles by myself, but there’s something about riding with 15 others at speed and in formation that makes you feel alive and part of something.

Right now, I’d be a liability. The guy at the back who everyone has to look out for. The guy who breaks up the rhythm that makes it work.

We all groan if the same cyclist has a puncture two rides in a row. I’ve had a seizure the last two times I’ve been out with VC Revolution. It’s just not fair on the group.

But I’m not planning to get off the bike and wait patiently for the drug dose to be increased.

There’s a little truth about cycling that will keep me going until I cannot balance on the bike any longer.

It’s that when you go out cycling, no one can ever take those miles away again.

I did only 36 miles yesterday, cutting it short after the seizure at 27, but that’s another 36 miles in the bank.

They’re in the record book, they’re mine.

My 136 mile ride last month to Norwich, that’s mine too. The five mountains in the Pyrenees that I rode in one day. In France I’ve ridden: Alpe d’Huez, Col du Grand Colombier, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col d’Isoard (or to give it its cyclists’ name, best said in a French accent, Col du It’s So Hard), as well as other mountains and even some flat stuff.

I’ve ridden big miles in Spain, in Majorca, in Canada, in Scotland, in a dozen English counties. And not one of those miles can be taken away from me.

Even a 10 mile loop around the reservoir by my house belongs to me once I’ve done it.

There’s something pure and simple about this that makes me happy. It keeps me donning the lycra and silly shoes, even if I feel rubbish or the weather is terrible.

When asked by an amateur how he could improve his performance on the bike, the great Tour de France and one day classics champion Eddy Merckx simply said:

“Ride your bike, ride your bike and ride your bike”.

I’m in a similar place with my writing.

I’m 25,000 words into my book about equal parenting. That’s after just three weeks of part time work, because I look after my children for the other half of the working week.

That’s about a third of the way through, and there’s still an enormous amount of work once the raw words are down.

But like with the bike miles, I know that once those words are written they can never be taken away.

If I get knocked off my bike today, or in the unlikely (though on miserable days it feels more probable) event that my health deteriorates soon, those 25,000 words exist.

Sometimes I feel in a rush to write. Every hour I spend writing, every paragraph and every page, adds to the total.

If the worst should happen, another writer should be able to make sense of those words on my behalf. They could be published in some format or other. But even if they didn’t end up being read by anyone, I’ve still written them down.

And once written, they belong to me just like those pedal turns that took me over the Alps.

Like cycling, I’ve expressed a key part of me.

I’ve lived.

And the more I write, the better honed my storytelling, the smarter my turn of phrase, the better my writing overall.

It’s no secret, but it’s a formula easily forgotten by those who work with words. By far the most effective way to become a really good writer is simply this:

Write, write and write.

I guess getting the words out, and logging the cycling miles, is one of the things this blog is really all about.

One comment

  1. Just wanted to say thank you for your posts – I really do look forward to reading them. Sometimes they’re serious, sometimes they make me laugh out loud, but all are thought provoking. Thank you, Gideon. Keep it up! Best wishes – Emma

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