The Transcontinental Race No.7 is almost upon us (it starts on Saturday 27th July) and as a volunteer I’d like to say I’m ready, but sadly I’m nowhere near where I hoped to be. My preparation has been hit hard by the ongoing saga of my injured knee and my plan to ride a significant portion of the way to CP3 and then explore the parcours (when not doing my duties as a volunteer) have been somewhat thrown out the window. With just over 3 weeks to go I’m still waiting for the swelling to dissipate after my recent operation and it’s unlikely I’ll be cycling sufficiently long distances in time.
Although I mostly try to maintain a positive mindset, my own mental health (and specifically depression) is hugely impacted and helped by my pursuit of exercise and in particular cycling. Not being able to cycle is hard enough from a fitness point of view, as I put on weight and generally feel bad about my ongoing lack of form. Add in the feelings of worthlessness when the depression takes hold and I genuinely feel like I’m drowning, and it is only the fact that I have something to aim for (in this case getting to CP3) that keeps me afloat.
I’ve always been a pretty good organiser, usually planning out tasks or adventures in a timely and efficient manner, so having to take a “wait and see” approach to my recovery is another reason I’m frustrated and feeling low. In fact with Hilke’s help the trip down to Austria was planned some weeks ago, but now requires a complete re-think. Not only is this annoying, it’s also putting pressure on our limited budget for the trip, as I will not now be able to cycle the distances I’d previously hoped to.
There is absolutely no doubt at all that I will get there, because as stated above, doing so is what has kept me going these last few months. I love my family like no other, but I hope there is understanding in my reasons for sharing my feelings like I do. There are so many like me, who suffer from depression and need something extra to help them cope.
I have been contacted by not only cyclists, but others who use the outdoors to give them a much needed respite from the Black Dog and told how much finding a sport they could pour passion into has helped them. I’ve never taken drugs, but I know without any doubt that for me this love (and need) of being outdoors is the most potent drug I can get. It’s not just coincidence it is the best medicine I can take.
What gives me great hope is my two girls are growing up and we (myself and Hilke) can clearly see they have inherited from us our active lifestyles, so it is going to be a fun time taking them and exploring the outdoors. Who knows where it will lead, but it should keep me busy (and active) for some time to come.
In the meantime, say hello as you pass through CP3!
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