Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Wanted: Inspiration

Okay, I confess. I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself over the last few months.

Firstly came the realisation that this is the last year I'll be able to race as a master. From this year's cross season, I'll officially be a vet. I'm not overly impressed by that concept, but hey ho, there's not much I can do about it, so I'll just have to get on with it.

Secondly I've been really suffering with my back. The results of an MRI scan have shown that it's not something that's going to go away or fix itself, so I need to learn techniques to manage it. Hopefully an appointment with a neurosurgeon next month will rule out the need for surgery and confirm that disciplined physio will keep me right.

The age thing pushed me to try to make my last year as a master count, however the back thing has meant that I've had lots of periods off the bike (I'm under strict orders from my physio not to fall off and those who know me will know that's a real challenge!).

I've really had to manage how hard I push myself on the bike since any techy riding runs the risk of me crashing, so I've had to focus on slightly more gentle, fun riding. Unfortunately that means that I've had to put enduro racing on a back burner for the time being. I'm not exactly sticking to canal paths, but please don't tell my physio that!

So, I've been down in the dumps and feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Last weekend I had a bit of a kick up the backside to get me out of my self pity.

On Saturday I had volunteered to help lead some rides at an event aimed at encouraging women to get on bikes or back on their bikes. The event was organised by Belles on Bikes, Cycling Scotland and CTC. Almost all of the volunteers were women and all of them had inspirational stories of things they had done.

From working as professional bike mechanics to supporting and working with youth groups to cycling 15,000k from Chiang Mai to Edinburgh to raise money for charity.

All these women, doing all these amazing things, but they are just normal women, not super heroes or wonder women, just women who are passionate about bikes and sharing that passion with others and using their passion to make a difference where they can.

Meeting these women was a bit of a wake up call for me.

Turning 40 isn't the end of the world and certainly doesn't mean I'm going to ride any less or enjoy riding any less. And having a back problem is just a blip which I'll learn to work with and doesn't mean I need to give up riding.

So, I'm not about to cycle from Thailand to Edinburgh and I'm not going to give up my job to become a bike mechanic. However, I might do some more training and different training so that I can work with and coach kids so that they can get as much out of cycling as I do.

And for me personally, I might just set myself some challenges this summer. I may not be able to race at the moment, but that doesn't mean I can't set myself challenging goals to do big bike rides in new places. So the maps are out and plans are being made and fingers are crossed for a long summer.