There I was happily married, content with life. I had a beautiful wife, my own business, good friends, BMW’s on the drive and a home that we were comfortable in, your regular suburban dream !!
It didn’t last, my business failed, my wife and I separated and finally divorced, the cars were replaced by cheaper models and although I ended up with the house it required three lodgers just so I could afford to stay there, it was now a business and not a home !
Slowly but surely and without even knowing what was happening I became depressed, I lost some friends, I pushed others away, I worked like an automaton, I had no self worth and my life was like living under a black cloud. My first thought every morning was ” oh no not again ” it meant that I had to endure another day and believe me the days felt endless !!
During this time I have to admit to trying to take my own life, several times in fact and at least once it resulted in a hospital stay, if I hadn’t been such a coward I would not be here! At the time though it felt like another failure, something else I’d fucked up, how could I be so bloody useless that I couldn’t even kill myself !!
When I look back now I realise just how lucky I was, I had some friends that just wouldn’t give up on me. They started a film club, every week at my house they would turn up and we’d all watch a film, sometimes I just wanted them to leave but I couldn’t be that rude, other times I did enjoy it and there was always a bit of time at the end, they’d ask how I was, what I was doing. I’d tell them about getting to work and bursting into tears or running out of the pub with a panic attack and hiding for days, I told them about lying to my boss about taking time off work because I just couldn’t face it !
Slowly though their efforts started to have an effect, I told them I wanted to sell the house and go traveling. As soon as I realised this my life had meaning again, they helped me to work out how to get to where I needed to be.
In the meantime another event helped to shape my future even more, a friend offered me a ticket for the St George’s day rugby match at Twickenham, this was 2010 and although I wasn’t overly excited, this being my normal state I agreed to go with him. Now at the time I was a heavy smoker, I drank a lot but never to the point of being drunk, I liked to remain in control . And I was fat, really fat at least by my standards, I was nineteen stone and looked bloated, a bit like a beached whale !
Anyway, someone pointed out that you can’t smoke on the trains, tubes or at the ground, I left my cigarettes at home, the match…. I don’t remember nor do I remember getting there or back, what I do remember was being pleased to have survived the day without a cigarette !
I got through the next day, then the week and very quickly the idea formed that I could give up, well I did, two and a half years ago I had my last cigarette ! That was a catalyst for me, an eye opener, I’d managed to get something right but I also knew that if I stopped smoking I’d put on weight so I got out of the shower a few days later, I looked in the mirror and a big fat bloated man looked back at me, I was disgusted, this wasn’t me….I wanted to change !
In my garage was a bicycle, I bought it off a friend years ago, I only had it because he needed money and it was all he had to sell. I’d never used it but I went down to my garage, pumped up the tyres, dusted it down and adjusted the seat and without any thought other than I need to lose weight I set off. I cycled to Reading and back, 50 miles, I hurt, I was knackered but I did it. Soon I was cycling frequently, going further, I bought a better bike and my friends started coming with me.
Then the winter came and cycling stopped, all the good feelings started to drain away, I needed to do something else so I started running. My first run in the winter of 2010 was about 200 yards but I kept going and very soon a friend and I had entered a 10k event. We trained and finally the day arrived and we lined up near the back, the race started and we ran, we overtook people, we felt great and when we finished we were in the top 200, we were amazed that with so little training that we could do so well, we carried on running and cycling, we entered events for both.
In the meantime I’d put my house on the market, I was going to travel !!
More of my friends got involved in running and cycling, we joined bootcamp classes and circuit training, we finally cycled 100 miles in a day, we ran our first half marathon, we did duathlons, multi sport events and finally in may 2012 my mate and I ran the Edinburgh marathon, me in 4hrs 8mins, I was delighted.
My house finally sold and I moved in with another friend. Back in 2011 a friend and I cycled from London to Paris with a group, all for charity. One of the people kept reading about my completed challenges on Facebook and would occasionally suggest things for me and my friends to do, one day she posted about the Global Bike Race, I checked it out but after reading it I decided it wasn’t for me, but I was interested in cycling round the world. I looked online and found The World Cycle Challenge, I read up on it, emailed the organisers about some reservations I had but I knew I wanted to do it and eventually I paid my deposit. I started training even harder, the WCC had a Facebook page where we could all discuss our training and get to know each other before we met, it was great, just what I needed, a way to see the world and cycle, I was very happy !!
Unfortunately my happiness didn’t last, the organisers decided that there just wasn’t enough interest to make it a viable proposition, we all got a phone call to say it had been cancelled….I can only speak for myself but it felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach, I was gutted. We all got our money back fairly quickly and I knew that I still wanted to get out there and do something. I posted on the WCC Facebook page that I still had the time, money and inclination and was anyone else up for it, one person came back and said yes !!
She lives in Edinburgh, very useful in May when we ran the Marathon as I got to meet her for the third time !
We or to be honest mainly her, planned our trip and finally left for Seattle on July 7th 2012, bearing in mind that we’d only met four times before we got to the airport !!
Since then we’ve cycled down the Pacific coast from Seattle to San Francisco, 800 miles round Japan, a quick layover in Hong Kong to do some sight seeing, cycled round the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, a month in Rahjastan and a month in southern India. We arrived home on December 8th 2012 after about 4000 miles or so and we’re now ready for our next tour, Cairo to Capetown. We leave on January 6th 2013 and will hopefully be back in late May. We’re not doing Africa on our own as its dangerous, the company organising this trip is called Tour D,’Afrique and because its their show we will need to cycle at their pace, it works out at about 86 miles a day !!
Even when we get back in May we already have plans to go to Europe, South East Asia, New Zealand and Australia, money permitting !
It’s amazing to think back now to the person I was two and a half years ago and see how far I’ve come, some very good friends, a little luck, a new found determination and exercise !
When I finish travelling I’d like to use my experiences to try and help motivate or encourage people who feel like I did, to show them that things can change and that life can be better, I’m not suggesting that everyone should go and cycle round the world but to have some sort of goal isn’t a bad thing and exercise and fresh air are free and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to turn off the TV and have a go !!