Contra la montre

It wouldn’t take a TV psychologist to tell you what I’m doing. I’ve had more than a sneaking suspicion about what I’ve been up to for quite some time.

Sure, I was a keen cyclist before all this brain tumour stuff came along.

But the relationship between me and the bike may just have become a tad more intense since my diagnosis, now over a year ago.

Dependency? Clinging to life? Riding away, escaping from my problems? Failing to face up to the truth? Pretending I’m not sick by throwing myself into a demanding, endurance-focussed and time consuming sport?

CaravanIn the same way, it probably wouldn’t take Dr Raj Persaud long to draw a connection between my current mental state, and my spending most of last week – armed with a massive lump hammer and a crow bar – smashing apart a knackered old caravan we have (correction: use to have) in our back garden.

But I don’t think I’m cycling away from something, or failing to look my condition in the eye. When I’m out there putting the miles, it feels like I’m moving towards my condition – embracing it, or at least staring it in the face – rather than trying to escape.

There certainly is some truth to my cycling intensity being related, if not a direct response, to my condition.

I know I use staying in the saddle as proof to myself that I can still do it: this old body isn’t finished with yet. Look, there goes that guy with the terminal cancer out on his bike again,.

I use cycling to stay in control of at least part of my life. I use it to keep me sane. If that makes me crazy, then bring on the men in the white coats. They’ll have to catch me first, and I’m pretty strong up a long windy drag.

And if you’ll excuse the extension of the metaphor just one more notch – and what better time to take the liberty than on the day of the Nice time trail on day four of the Tour de France? – what I am engaged in with this whole tumour-cycling cyling-tumour thing, is what the French call: contra la montre.

Against the clock. The race of truth.

imagesWith my seizures returning, and the likelihood of my beginning radiotherapy in the autumn looking ever more likely, I’m in a rush to squeeze in as much cycling as I can before time runs out and the treatment begins.

Radiotherapy is amazingly accurate these days, particularly on the very highest tech machines. But it’s pretty clear the treatment isn’t so accurate that it will only zap the cancer cells in my brain. It’ll also take out surrounding healthy brain cells. Ones that usually do a pretty good job of enabling me to think, speak and move.

Six weeks of daily radiotherapy is likely to, hopefully just short-term but possibly long-term too, affect my speech, my movement and my memory. And once radiotherapy is done, I’ll go straight into 36 weeks of chemo.

In short, chances are I won’t come out the other side quite the cyclist I am right now. At least not for a while.

So, yes, I’m concentrating on getting in the saddle right now.

Last week I did my first 10 mile time trial for a couple of years. I’ll do another tomorrow.

In a fortnight, I’m joining two good friends, Anna and Dave, as they cycle the 1,000 mile route between Lands End and John O’Groats in aid of the Brain Tumour Charity. (I’m only doing two days of the incredible 10 they’re planning to do the full distance in.)

A couple of weeks after that, I’m heading up Mount Ventoux, the biggest, ugliest, meanest and most forbidding road cycling mountain in the whole world.

A few weeks after that, I’m off to the Peak District with Snakes’ Pass and other legendary climbs in my sights.

Bring it on, I say. The more the better. Worsening seizures or not. I don’t want to look back in the Autumn, if that is when treatment starts, and see a chance I’ve missed.

Tick, tick, tick. When you go contra la montre, every second on the bike counts.

One comment

  1. Gideon … You continue to amaze me and inspire me. Your focus and attitude can only be described as incredibly positive. What a blessing it is that you do have such a passion and commitment to riding as iy throws at pu the challenges that you need to keep you focused and avtive. I love the way you are looking forward and taking the bull by the horns so to speak . Yes, there goes the man on the bike with cancer … ” Isn’t he brilliant !” I’d say. Keep on keeping on Gideon!

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