Haven't the last 48 hours flown... one minute I'm in Wales... the next sitting at Gate B47 contemplating the next month....
I have been following the race as the riders wound their way down the trail and have been blown away by their stories and pictures. The attrition rate seems pretty high so far.. injuries... weather... and mechanicals breaking the dreams of those who have dared to step up and over the edge out of their comfort zone and risk failure (in their eyes maybe... not mine) for the chance to say that they took on the Tour Divide and won.
There are many definitions of winning... and that is a personal thing that each racer will define in his or her own mind. It is as yet undefined in mine but will probably become clear with each pedal stroke along the (hopefully) dry and dusty tracks... all I can ask of myself at the moment... is that I put my heart and soul into it... and see where the cards fall.
The last few days ... apart from enforcing my sleep deprivation training... have also re-inforced (not that it needed it really) why I am sitting here... a bundle of nerves and pent up energy waiting to board to start this chapter in the adventure of life.
I rejoined the By Your Side Walk... a walk from Wrexham to Bangor... down to Caernarfon finishing with Snowdon Rocks...for the final day. I'd had some trouble with blisters with the shoes I was intending to use for the Tour Divide and so was nicely kitted out with a new pair of Merrells. The days walk was a paltry 9 miles... nothing compared to some of the days that I had missed, it flew by in snapshots of conversations with different people... beginning in Bangor hospital with a BBC Radio Wales appearance by Mike and Jules (and v briefly me 😁) and ending to a glorious choral welcome in Caernarfon Castle. The castle itself may have been an imposing reminder of English supression of the Welsh (as a certain retired copper informed me) but in the hint of sunshine which the weather gods had decided to reward us with... it was a welcoming place and when filled with the sound of voices singing 'Give me Love Hope and Strength' it seemed to stand stronger and prouder as we all did for taking our parts in an unbelievable show of community... family and unity. As Mike Peters eloquently put it... 'what hurts one... hurts us all'and I hope Jules in particular felt the love hope and strength emenating from us to her for demonstrating with such grace how cancer should be battled.
The end of the walk didnt mean the end of 'work' for me (or the rest of the LHS/MPO/Awyr Las Team) and I shot over to The Heights to meet some of the Snowdon Rocks volunteers to set up ready for the Snowdon Rocks gig the next day. The setting up mainly involved wrestling with the new Event Shelter... hopefully able to withstand gusts of wind better than our usual festival gazebo... but certainly more of a pain in the arse to put up (no sorry ... this wont be the last time I refer to a pain in my arse for sure).
5 of us wrestled it into submission finally leaving the rest of the evening free to start on the LHS friends catch up. Bloody great evening despite the promises by the pub of food being dashed repeatedly. It never ceases to amaze me how as a collective diverse group of people from all over the country can be such good friends... held together by our love for The Alarm and all things Mike Peters.
The following day we all gathered as one to follow our hero up the mountain once again. Thoughts of those we have loved and lost to the forefront as we carried memories to the top... reminded how many of us had first met... in the words of Nic and David J's Scriptures Verse... 'We climbed to the top as strangers... came back down as friends' ... was certainly true of many of my friendships within this group.. especially my friendship with them... though Nic I think was cursing the day she met me having completed an amazing mountain bike challenge!!
Having once again planted my hands at the top of this majestic lump of rock it was time to go down and I soon fell into conversation with David about testing your breaking point and the benefits/disadvantages of solo travel versus travelling with someone else. The psycology of being alone on the road and how much of any of these CraZy challenges undertaken is about mental preparedness more than physical fitness.
The gig in the evening was a huge success from an LHS swabbing point of view with another 100 potential donors added to the list to Save A Life. And so I left the evening on an adrenaline high...with the drive overnight to contemplate. An overwhelming feeling of being very fortunate accompanied me most of the way before absolute reality started to dawn and the planning of the last year hurtled towards me with a force that rivalled a nuclear explosion... The Time is now....
And so having taken off and now cruising at 40 000 ft it wont be long before its time to see if my body can cash the cheques that my mouth has written... and I am a mixture of fear and excitement and trepidation and longing. The adventure is beginning.. how long will it last?? Come along on the journey