Yesterday I cycled from Nottingham to Skegness with a wonderful group of people including my Dad. All rides are part of my training but this one was a little different. The group I rode with are not your typical over-lycraed cycling club (not that there is anything wrong with these!) but a local group of friends who enjoy pedalling together. They ride mountain bikes, hybrids and roadies and wear whatever the hell they want. There is no judgment on others possessions or style and the idea of each ride is to chat and laugh whilst enjoying the countryside. No one gets dropped and great concern is shown if anyone is out of sight for too long.
Bob, my Dad and myself used to cycle with them on a Tuesday night and last year Bob and Dad went with them on their yearly cycle to Skegness. They do this outing during the week and so last year I was working and couldn’t go. This year however I took a holiday day and went with them.
As we made out way out through the country villages from Notts into Lincs; as we stopped in Cranwell for snacks; as we paused at a pub for refreshments; as we battled wind along long; flat and open roads towards the sea and as we sat outside the bar in Skegness with pints in hand I couldn’t help but imagine Bob on this journey last year. I could picture him laughing and joking, regaling others with his tales of derring-do and bad jokes. I missed him, of course I did. He was always the one to jolly others along when they were finding things tough. But I also wondered what the others were thinking. Did the other riders miss him? Were they also recalling his presence the previous year? I’m sure my Dad was, I’m sure he found it tough as well.
Bob’s are big shoes to fill and I do often feel that I am trying to fill them. His friends who have taken me under their wing invite me on meals and cycle rides he would have been on. The Coast 2 Coast in a Day Challenge was his challenge. And someone needs to keep telling his tales and terrible jokes for him! But I can’t be him, I can’t replace him; none of us can. We can all step in and do a little bit of what he would have done and be mindful of the way he would acted in given situations but even if you put all his loved ones efforts together we cannot recreate him, we cannot bring him back.
However my mind still struggles to deal with this fact. As I peddle along my mind reasons that it wouldn’t be too hard for him to walk back into his life yet. Yes, it’s been six months and lots of things have changed. News has happened, songs have been released, sporting games have been won and lost but we could catch him up with all of that. I tell him it would be fine, that he could just fit back in. That we would make everything alright for him. We would take care of him, all he has to do is come bloody back!
It’s not going to happen though is it? I will just have to keep on living a life for the both of us and for now the biggest part of that is the challenge. In just over two weeks I hope to achieve Bob’s ambition of cycling from Whitehaven to Tynemouth in one day. Approximately 130 miles and 10,000ft of climbing. It is a ride I swore I wouldn’t and couldn’t do. Now I swear I will and I can, along with my amazing fellow riders and supporters.
I am nervous though. Partly because I don’t want to fail him, partly because I know what a very emotional day it will be and partly because I don’t know what I will focus on after. The challenge has taken up a huge amount of my thoughts and time. I know I will need a new focus once it is over. It may not be another sporting challenge (although the sport will always be a huge part of my life), perhaps I will find a focus elsewhere…any ideas welcomed!
When I do miss him and worry about the future I always also remember that from the darkness of his passing I have searched for and found some light. I never knew how loved I was until this happened (not that I didn’t feel loved, I just did not see the strength and breadth of it). I never knew how many good people there are in the world. People who have been willing to reach out time and time again. And I never realised that I was strong. The two Cadi’s from this previous post:https://cadi2014.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/pink-floyd-in-iceland/ are still present but they are working well together.
I am sometimes weak but always strong. Long may it remain.
Be more relentless
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