And so it came to pass that on Sunday 27th September 2015 (happy birthday Mum!) the early morning sun climbed above the Station Road tree line and cascaded its warm and welcoming rays onto the lush green pastures of Fitz Park. The gathering of the now legendary NSG Psyclopaths had begun. The early bird Psyclos assembled at the appointed hour of 7:30, others and they know who they are, elected for the leisurely lie in and full breakfast before making their way to the park. Soon the gathering was complete and resplendent in their team lycra they made their way to the start line. We couldn’t have asked for a better day and to paraphrase the great Dave Grohl (Times like these – Foo Fighters for the uninitiated):
“it’s days like these you learn to live again
it’s days like these you give and give again
it’s days like these you learn to love again
it’s days like these time and time again”
Well my loyal chums and fellow velominati, we certainly lived, gave and loved – all for the cause!
As I was boosted by the Chemo Diet steroids I set off trying to better last years time however that plan fell by the wayside once my rear inner tube decided that it couldn’t take another pothole hit and finally gave in. A huge thanks go to the two good Samaritans who stopped to assist me in changing the tube. I say assist, they did in fact do it for me following my pathetic attempts that resulted in bits of broken plastic tyre levers flying in all directions over the nearby hedges. Later reports from the other Psyclos confirmed they were having similar problems with another two punctures. But these setbacks didn’t detract from the overall experience of the Rivers Ride. It’s a great event that supports a great cause and I would encourage anyone with a penchant for any sort of exercise and love of the countryside to enter the event in 2016. You won’t regret it!
It was four months ago that I said I would be in Fitz Park regardless of what the NHS was going to throw my way in the form of treatment for the lymphoma and through the support of my family, fellow Psyclos, friends, sponsors and the Foundation I did what I set out to do!! The relief and joy I felt as I entered Keswick eventually hit me and the tears, not of sadness, but of achievement, eventually came and as one journey ended at the finish line in the park the more important journey back to peak health and fitness still continues.
There are an awful lot of people who have helped and supported me on this journey and to name them all individually would be a mammoth task but they all fit into one of the following, so a huge thank you to:
The original NSG Psyclopaths, new NSG Psyclopaths, old friends, new friends, colleagues at NSG, NIS & Hold, all the generous sponsors to my just giving page, Cumbria Community Foundation and of course my Darling Wife.
Special thanks to Andy Beeforth and his Foundation team for continuing to run this event. The organisation of the day was again flawless, the Foundations many volunteers who made sure we went the right way and those who manned the feed stations, were instrumental in making the day so memorable.
More special thanks to all the sponsors who gave so generously, some even watching the total to ensure I hit the £2000 target before I set off. I’m sure Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley very much appreciate your generosity.
There is one very good friend who I will single out who’s drive and determination to support me in doing the ride almost matched my own, and that is Psyclo Lozza. Three months ago she had never ridden a bike. She trained in wind and rain (and through hangovers) to make sure that Whinlatter wouldn’t be a problem. She is now the proud owner of a magnificent pair of thighs thanks mainly to the hills around Anglezarke and Rivington. I’m sure she enjoyed the Prosecco at the end. Go Girl!!
Finally ladies and gentlemen (at last!!!), if I have contributed in any small way, with these blogs, to the continued success of this great event then I have succeeded. Indeed, if I have inspired one person to ditch the comfy confines of their sofas and to don the lycra and to get out on their bikes, to enjoy all the pleasures that our countryside provides then again, I have succeeded.
Your journeys to next years event starts here, my journey back to health continues…………
See you all next year.
To paraphrase a once great leader, “Friends, Cumbrians (and Lancastrians), Psyclopaths, lend me your ears”.
The fateful day fast approaches. I hope this latest whimsical waltz through the trials and tribulations of the Psyclopaths journey finds you all fit and well and raring to go. No? Well there’s only three weeks to go, so what have you been doing??
As you would expect, my fellow Psyclos have continued to put the training miles in, some preferring the short sharp shocks of the Lancastrian hills (difficult to say whilst on the wonderful Jennings Bitter), whilst yours truly led a bunch made up of hardened Psyclos and budding Psyclos around the gentle undulations of the Preston Guild Wheel.
We would have been in the famed Continental Bar a lot quicker had it not been for the seriously under-maintained bike that a budding Psyclo turned up with. But thanks must go to the Musician Psyclo (particularly from budding Psyclo Wendi) for taking one for the team and manly wrestling the two-wheeled beast around the circuit.
Once again apologies must go to our main sponsors Jennings (great beer by the way), but the Schneider Weisse beer went down extremely well!!
The drive and dedication of this elite bunch of Psyclo ne’r do wells have inspired others to don the lycra and we have a couple of budding Psyclos already thinking about next years ride. We have also got another promotion into the Psyclo elite from the now defunct NSGeese, another colleague at NSG, Chemical Psyclo – Sam Padmore has risen to the challenge and passed the rigorous Psyclo fitness test.
As for yours truly, the third batch of toxic chemicals was successfully administered over the now usual five and a half hours, on 3rd September and the cycle of effects seems to be consistent with the previous cycles (far to much cycling if you ask me!!) On steroids – top of the world, off steroids – tired and lethargic. At least its consistent! Looking forward to the next batch on the 24th September.
So all the preparations are nearing completion, peak fitness’s are nearly achieved, the NSG corporate tent has been found, so lets hope Keswick is ready for the influx of the finest set of Psyclopaths that have ever straddled a saddle – try saying that after a couple of pints of the excellent Jennings Cumberland Bitter! (How am I doing in plugging the beer?)
Whatever the weather it promises to be a great day out and I for one will be glad to be part of it.
Please come and visit us at the NSG tent (we’ll hopefully be next to the brilliant Jennings tent again – another plug!!) It will be a pleasure to see all the kind people who have supported and encouraged not only me on my personal journey but also the good people at the foundation, without who this event would not be taking place. As the late, great Leslie Crowther was oft saying “Come on Down!”
Here are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind as you complete your final preparations;
“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, oh and never quit!”
“Embrace life and the pleasures it brings, live it to the full, after all you only get one shot at it.”
See you all on the 27th bright and early……..
P.S. – Still no word from the LLWR site – I think it must have been a figment of my vivid imagination whilst I was under the influence of either the toxic chemicals or copious quantities of the excellent Jennings Bitter (must be up for some freebies now!!) that led me to believe the Psyclos would have any serious rivals!!
Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun. Now, fun can be described in many different ways depending on your own personal predilections, outlook on life and general demeanour.
Fun to some can be hardship to others.
What fun have I been having since my last long winded and waffling blog I hear you all pleading? Well then, as you have asked (at least I hope you all did!), get yourself a brew, put your feet up, relax and read on.
As you know August was a month of golf, that was fun! I won’t go into the gory details (as I have been known to do, as some of my longstanding acquaintances know only too well, particularly the Darling Wife, who has spent many an evening glassy eyed as I have regaled her with a hole by hole, shot by shot account of my many successful rounds) suffice to say that the handicap remains intact at a suitably low level.
What else fun and exciting has been completed? Well if your idea of fun is five and a half hours plumbed into a toxic chemical plant at the Rosemere Centre then I’ve had it by the bucket load. They did say the second intake would be shorter than the first, but I was expecting more than half an hour reduction. But if that is what it takes then so be it. To be honest, my treatment and subsequent side effects are a lot easier to handle than some of the other patients that frequent the centre. I am obviously one of the “luckier” ones. Anyway, batch two complete and batch three is booked for 3rd September.
So as the golf month of August gently passes into history, Cycling September is eager to burst forth. In preparation of what is planned to be an intense month of training and also to overcome my lethargy demon, I slapped a bit of WD40 onto my neglected cogs and did a swift 14 miles that included the famed Anglezarke “rise”.
This bike riding lark is like riding a bike, you never forget how!!
The other Psyclopaths? Well some are maintaining the rigorous training regimes in-between bouts of “over indulgence” (Happy recent Birthday to Psyclo Lozza – I’m sure the hangover won’t last, but the additional year could have serious effects on her stamina!). We have also welcomed back Psyclo Rust Bucket Rudd, unfortunately he’s got the same bike despite the high standards set by yours truly!!
Rumours abound of a new influx of Psyclos but at the time of writing they remain rumours and empty words. As we all know actions speak louder than words, so come on, stop dithering and commit! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!
What of that other minor team I introduced in my last blog? I’m sure you would all like to know more about them and so would I dear reader, so would I! The silence from the LLWR camp has been deafening!!
A word on the sponsorship, with recent cash donations that have yet to be put on my JustGiving page, the total to date has topped the £1,500 target. What can I say that I’ve not said already, Thank you, Merci, Danke, Tack, Gracias, Grazie, Dankjewel and finally, Arigato (languages on a postcard please).
For those of you still inclined – https://www.justgiving.com/Nig-Lowe/
My wise mate has gone on holiday so I’ll leave you with this little sexist cycling funny,
A tandem rider is stopped by a police car.
“What’ve I done, officer?” asks the rider.
“Perhaps you didn’t notice sir, but your wife fell off your bike half a mile back . . .”
“Oh, thank God for that,” says the rider – “I thought I’d gone deaf!”
Let your fun commence………
Hello again my velominati chums!
It’s now two weeks since the first intake of toxic chemicals and I can report that so far everything is going great. From the highs of the steroid week to some tiredness and lethargy, I can honestly say that this chemo lark is a piece of cake. That said, I’ve only had one batch and who knows what is in store after the future doses.
The feeling of tiredness and general lethargy meant that yours truly has neglected the strict training regime that was initiated by Psyclo Lozza. I swapped the razor like saddle for the loving arms of my leather clad sofa, but who needs exercise when you are on the Chemo Diet (thanks Dave!) – the weight is dropping off!! A 34″ waist is on the horizon and that has not been seen since I passed it first time around 1979!!! Still waiting for the hairless legs to appear though!!
What of the legends that are the Psyclopaths I hear you all cry? Progress on the training front is good judging by various reports and “mapmyride” updates. The Budding Musician Psyclo continues to inspire us with his wet weather training. Not sure why he is training in wet weather, it never rains in Cumbria!!!!! Newbie Psyclo Tony has made significant progress, he now owns a bike!!
We have also welcomed back Psyclo Su, from our sister company, Hold Engineering. I’d like to think she will accompany me across the finish line just like last year.
So the Psyclos currently number nine magnificent athletes – plus one steroid fuelled lay-about!
News has filtered down from the LLWR site in Drigg that a rival team has been formed made up of NSG and LLWR site personnel. They obviously felt that their current fitness levels meant that they wouldn’t be able to meet the strict criteria for the membership of the elite Psyclos. So as opposed to rising to the challenge they have taken the soft option and formed their own team so please look out for Team PCM and give them some encouragement and support. They will definitely need it!!
More training is planned for early September only because there is golf to be played during the rest of August. “Priorities” I hear you all cry – exactly!!
Anyway, enough waffle for now, I must prepare for the next visit to the toxic chemical plant (Thursday 13th) and to stock up on more steroids!
My wise old mate has been waxing lyrical again – “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do”
He also threw in a funny, “What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic and a dyslexic? Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog!”
Till next time……………
After our successful Tour de France campaign we now turn our attention to the Jennings Rivers Ride…………….if only that were true!
We are a team of 10 Bankers primarily from the Handelsbanken Branches in Penrith and Kendal, but also with representation from our Branches in Lancaster and Preston.
From volunteering through to gentle persuasion and claims of LMF (lack of moral fibre) we have pulled together an elite band of cyclists with one aim………not to get off and walk up Honister! For some of us the training is a simple extension of an existing thirst for all things 2 wheeled…..for some an insatiable desire to create an existing thirst….and for others a need to prove an end to LMF.
The training is progressing well and amidst coast to coast rides, quick dashes up and down Shap after work, and gentle Saturday morning spins around the lanes of Cumbria, most of us are looking forward to supporting the excellent Cumbria Community Foundation on the 27th September.
Hello again my loyal and (fool) hardy chums.
What a difference a couple of weeks makes!
From the highs of a first training ride with my fellow Psyclos to the lows of increasing pain and tiredness through lack of sleep, it has been a rollercoaster these last two weeks.
Lets get the depressing stuff out the way. Following the last blog and the full diagnosis I have been waiting for a start date for the chemo. During that time the pain had increased to such an extent that sleep was impossible, being bent double, wiping away the tears wishing it would stop did little to help. A call to the Rosemere Centre for any advice on pain relief actually lead to a confirmation date of 23rd July for the first batch of Chemo. Result!!
The big day arrived and accompanied by The Darling Wife we settled in for what turned out to be six hours in the company of a team of wonderful specialist nurses who expertly plumbed me into the chemical plant and switched on the pump. Although it was a long and tiring day the relief to be actually getting some treatment was enormous. What made it even better was the pain went away! Thursday and Friday were the first full nights sleep I had had for over three weeks. Coupled with the steroids I began to feel like my old self, but better!!
Confession time. The three week chemo cycles mean that I should have another session the Thursday before the ride so I will be on steroids!! There goes all the good work that fellow Velominati, Chris Froome has been doing to make sure cycling is clean!!!
What of my fellow Psyclos I hear you cry. Well the team grows ever larger with the addition of an even younger Baby Psyclo, my fellow NSG colleague Joshua Rimmer, we’ve yet to be convinced of his prowess on the Velo but no doubt youth will get him through.
Reports are coming to yours truly about training rides from the Budding Musician (18 miles), Lozza and Baby Psyclos. Even newbie Alistair attempted the Iron Man hills of Anglezarke but failed at the base of hill one under a vociferous vocal tirade from his Darling Partner who took an instant dislike to the sheer face of tarmac that rose infront of her. Still, seven miles isn’t a bad start!!!!
The sponsorship is also progressing well, we are now at 86% of the new target. As Robbie and Kylie once said “Let’s keep doing it for the kids” – www.justgiving.com/nig-lowe/
Thanks also go to fellow blogger Ian Curwen for promoting my blog, no rivalry there just yet then!!!
Until next time, I’ll leave you with this thought, “The voice in your head that says you can’t do this is a liar”!!
Let’s do it my friends!!
When I agreed to blog again, I thought about the topics I’d like to cover and how to make them interesting. One of the things I thought I’d do each week or so was update you on my cycling achievements since the last blog.
If you speak to any cyclist and ask them how they prepare for a ride they will give you a number of different strategies – some, for example, like to do interval training, or focus on the hill climbs, or practice parts of the route they will be riding. But one thing they will all tell you is ‘you need the miles in your legs’.
Whilst that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do a 75 mile ride every time you go out, it does mean that you should a) actually be going out and b) increase the miles you complete.
Not riding for a week, therefore, isn’t really recommended. But one of the advantages of blogging – publicly – is that I have now shamed myself into addressing this. After all, I can’t report having completed no miles again in my next blog. Not only would this be embarrassing, it’d be pretty boring for you guys too.
So I am going to commit, right here, to completing at least one ride of 40 miles plus, with the aim of riding at least double that, in total. I might even try and throw in at least one of the three most testing climbs on the ride.
On my most recent cycle rides, I’ve tried some interval training – mixing speedy segments with some gentler paced recovery sections. This is partly to try and increase my fitness, and also to try and add variety to some of the shorter rides I do.
I’d love to tell you the technical and fitness reasons for why this is a good thing to do, but they’re largely beyond my comprehension. But what I do know is that varying your heart rate while exercising is a good thing to do, and I think you’ll even burn more calories. If you want to give it a go, I’d recommend one of the many fitness apps that exist, or have a look through some issues of Cycling Plus – every issue gives some useful hints and tips that will hopefully help you reach your goals.
I’ll let you know how I get on in my next blog.
And in the meantime, if you need more inspiration than I’m providing, why not take a look at my blogging colleague, Nigel Lowe’s posts. I’d like to commend him on his training and fundraising efforts, and wish him the very best of health too – he’s doing all that whilst battling Low Grade Lymphoma.
What can I say, how can you be speechless in a blog – wordless??
My revised fundraising target of £1,000 was exceeded within a week of topping the original £500 target. Once again I have been truly humbled by your support and generosity for those kids less fortunate than we.
Well my chums, lets get the medical stuff out of the way first. After much pestering, we now know what we are up against, Low Grade Lymphoma! What does that mean I hear the disinterested cry? It means extraction of a bone marrow sample (14th July) followed by further consultations with the experts (15th July) followed by the commencement of the intake of toxic chemicals commonly known as chemotherapy. The treatment is likely to last about 4 – 5 months but I’ve already told the team at the Rosemere Centre at Preston Hospital that I have an important appointment in the 27th September that they have to work around!!
A valuable lesson learned is not to wait for information but to actively seek it out!
Now on to the cycling stuff. Membership of the elite NSG Psyclopaths is growing, bikes are being purchased and padded lycra is being recommended for the uninitiated! We now have a Doctor Psyclo, not one that would help me though. Dr. Dom Farrell from the NSG Consultancy group has joined us. Once he is ensconced in our new Cumbria office I’m sure he will be familiar sight around the highways and byways, getting in much needed training on proper hills, as his previous base in Berkshire only offered the odd speed bump to get over.
A training ride for yours truly, the Baby Psyclo, Psyclo Lozza and the Budding Musician Psyclo was completed this last sunday. Just a litttle 18 miler around the proposed Ironman route through Anglezarke, Rivington & Belmont. This was Psyclo Lozza’s introduction to proper hills, and being the trooper she is conquered them all. We just have to work on the speed!! It was a good job there were a couple of Prosecco stops along the way, notably the Black Dog at Belmont and apologies to our main sponsors at Jennings, but a pint of Jumping Joe’s best always goes down well after 8 miles of climbing!!
Note to the newbie Psyclos, as you gently grunt your way up Whinlatter just remember what a proper cyclist once said – “You’re alone on the road with your bike. There’s no slipstream, no tactics, it’s not about who has the smartest strategy. It’s just you, your bike and your head, fighting against the pain.” Of course you won’t be alone, we’ll all be there in pain with you!!
I don’t know exactly how it’s happened, but I appear to have agreed to do the Jennings Rivers Ride again in 2015. This is despite the fear, pain and moderate panic that crosses my mind whenever last year’s ride is mentioned!
Ok, so I might be exaggerating somewhat, but it is fair to say that I found the ride a challenge. Not only was it the longest ride I’ve ever completed, but it was also the most hilly and arduous.
To be honest, I was quite pleased to finish the ride, especially given the pain I felt shortly after reaching the summit of the first (and easiest) mountain pass –Whinlatter. At that point, and for most of the twenty miles that followed, I wasn’t sure that I would make it. But I did, and I think that the reason that I’ve agreed to do the ride again this year is because the sense of accomplishment I got when I reached the end was just unbelievable, and hard to even put in to words.
The other reason I am happy to do the ride again is because I know much good the Cumbria Community Foundation can do with the money it raises from the event. I know from my contact with the Foundation that they do amazing things for people and communities in the county, and in times of austerity and government funding cuts, this is even more important.
So I’d be really grateful for any donations anyone might be willing to give, to support this work. Last year I raised £900, and this year I’d love to get this up to a round £1000, but I’ll be pleased with whatever I get. You can donate at www.justgiving.com/icurwen.
I’ll try to update this blog every couple of weeks with updates on how my training is going. I’ve recently done a couple of longer rides, but these haven’t been too hilly – I’ll need to incorporate these soon, if I am to improve on, or even match, last year’s effort.
For anyone considering doing the ride – ignore everything I’ve just said. It really is great fun, and if you like cycling, you’ll no doubt find it a doddle!
Well doesn’t time fly when you are waiting for results. As good as our glorious NHS is, it takes a lot of momentum to get something so big moving. Still there’s always things to be done.
Bike checked and serviced – done
Pester the Consultants secretary – done
Encourage more people to – 1. sign up for the Rivers Ride & 2. Get their sponsorship money out. Done on both counts and what a magnificent response.
Once I had told all my family and friends about my diagnosis I decided to go public and use the power of social media. Being of a certain age i.e. not a teenager, the benefits of the social media explosion are not always obvious but once the story hit Facebook it went “Spiral” and within a week my initial target of £500 was smashed and I had to raise the bar to £1000. Who knows, with your continued generosity I might have to raise it again.
I can’t thank you all enough for your outstanding generosity and messages of support. It truly is uplifting.
But what of the training I hear you all wail, well, with the great British summer finally making an appearance I recommenced the cycle commute to work with the addition of a few hills on the way home. It’s only about 12 miles but it keeps reminding the leg muscles of what is to come. Psyclo Lozza assures me she has a training plan in place to get in peak condition for the big day but methinks she is being held back by the Baby Psyclo especially when there is a hint of rain – Velominati Rule 5!!
Although there are many negatives with a lymphoma diagnosis there are also some positives. I appear to be losing weight, not through any of my own endeavours I hasten to add, so wind resistance has decreased and power to weight ratio has vastly improved. However the downside to the weight loss is that the lycra is getting a tad baggy and as you cycling fashionistas know, baggy lycra is never a good look! Just wait till the hair disappears, how fast will I be then!!!!
Hopefully next time I will have more news not only of the ongoing preparation of the Psyclopaths but also of the impending treatments, so until then my chums I will leave you with you with this from my wise mate,
“When I hear someone sigh that life is hard, ask, ‘compared to what?'”
Up and at ’em
Note to fellow blogger Adrain – the saddle does get comfier!!