charity

The Significance of Pain ~ Walking 30 miles in a day for Make A Wish

Pain. It’s temporary they say. It will pass.

It’s true. Pain is a temporary thing and it does pass. But while you are experiencing it, well, it hurts.

Stating the obvious. It hurts.

Last Thursday I decided to do the second part of my charity challenge for Make A Wish. Having successfully cycled coast to coast, from Aberystwyth to Lowestoft, 326 miles in 3 days, I set off at 6am to walk from Cheltenham to Worcester. A marathon in a day.
I will be completely honest. I had trained and was ready to cycle over 100 miles for 3 days in a row.
My walk was around 30 miles in total including walking to the station to get the train to Cheltenham and back home from Worcester Cathedral.
Had I trained? No. A few walks with my family down by the river or the canal. But no. No specific walking training.
Just a high level of fitness from cycling and a willpower to succeed and a determination to finish.

I first felt my ankle after a few miles. I recognised the pain. I had experienced it before, many years ago while trekking in Africa to climb Kilimanjaro and in Nepal to trek to Everest. The outer bone that protrudes from my left ankle was sore and getting worse. The lateral malleolus…a bone you never think about, until it hurts.

So I walked on, in increasing pain. Every step I was conscious of my ankle rubbing, bruising, and being painful.
What can you do?

A. STOP!
B. Call a taxi / family and pick you up
C. Ignore the pain
D. Keep going
E. Smile / grin and bear it
F. Swear and shout and feel sorry for yourself.

What did I do? C,D&E

What did I think about doing, even briefly? A,B&F

Pain is temporary, but it hurts.
How do you ignore pain? It is easy to tell yourself to ignore pain, not so easy to listen to and follow your ow advice. But I focussed on some key facts and reasons to keep me motivated;

• You chose to do the walk
• You wanted to do it
• The walk will end at some point
• The pain is not stopping you from physically putting one foot in front of the other
• You believe you can do this
• You are walking in beautiful countryside
• You are walking on a lovely warm September day
• You know where you are going, you know the route
• Your pain will pass, for many children they live with constant pain and discomfort
• They can not turn off their pain and it may be more intense and more difficult to ignore
• You have a goal. You have an objective. You have made a committment
• It is easier to quit than continue. Don’t take the easy option
• People believe in you. They have supported you
• People have donated so you can do these challenges, and ultimately help life limited children
• Every step is a step in pain, but a step closer to home
• Focus on your purpose, not your present discomfort
• Be mindful of where you are, why you are there and the pleasure, not the pain you feel.

After many hours walking, passing quiet villages, along winding country roads, past hills and farms and alongside rivers, listening to the gentle sounds of an English afternoon in the countryside, I reached my destination by the River Severn and Worcester Cathedral.

I didn’t jump for joy and celebrate wildly for successfully walking a marathon. I said a quiet well done…actually more of a ‘job done’ and thought about getting a taxi home.
But the traffic was terrible and it was such a lovely evening that after 27 miles, I decided to walk home.

Ignoring the pain.
Remembering the pleasure.
Thinking of the reasons why I did it.
Knowing I had honoured my daughter Milla. Remembering her spirit. She lived a life of discomfort and pain, there was no let up. Her cerebral palsy meant painful spasms and stiff muscles. It also meant she could not walk.

So, I walked 30 miles. And each step my ankle reminded me that pain was something many children like Milla had / have to endure constantly.
But also that my pain was nothing.
It would fade.
Yet the memories of that day of solitary walking would not fade, the enjoyment and the amazing support and the money raised. £1,200 to help Make A Wish continue to grant wishes that create lasting memories.
But neither would the memories of my inspiration fade. My daughter Milla.

I walked for her, because she couldn’t.

charity, Motivation and Change

Cycling With Wishes in Mind ~ A Reflection

Coast to Coast. Cycling 326 miles from Aberystwyth to Lowestoft in 3 days. 20180908_16363420180907_07432620180909_17065520180906_17393320180909_16590720180910_085243

A week on.

Time to reflect on a successful challenge, both in the physical achievement of cycling from the West Coast of Wales to the East Coast of England and in raising more than double my initial target for Make A Wish.

I will be honest. Cycling 100 miles in a day is something I am very capable of doing. Even in my 50th year. I know what it takes and I know how it feels.
The difference with my recent challenge was to cycle over 100 miles for 3 consecutive days, solo, unsupported and over some very testing terrain. And that made it a lot tougher.

I lost over 10kgs from 1st January and I know this made a big difference. Especially when facing the endless climbs in Wales on the first morning. And because I was carrying additional weight in a saddle bag and a backpack; clothes, bike tools, a pair of flip flops (!).

The challenge was always about getting from one side of the UK to the other in 3 days, under my own steam. 326 miles. Mountains and wind. But a mental challenge too. Dealing with discomfort and pain. The constant saddle soreness I had to endure, particularly the last day. The long roads cycled in silence. Mile after mile when my mind was saying stop. You don’t need to do this.

But I did. A personal goal, a personal ambition to achieve something significant in my 50th year. But more than that. Much more important was doing it for cause that means a lot to our family.

Make A Wish.

When we were struggling with 24 hour care for our daughter Milla, who had complex special needs, cerebral palsy and left us exhausted after continual sleepless nights, Make A Wish were there.

They stepped in and gave Milla, her twin sister Louisa and us a holiday. A break where we didn’t need to think about anything. All was taken care of. Nothing was too much trouble. A chance to be together, and to be a family and to see Milla and Louisa smiling and happy and enjoying the magic of Disney Land.

It created the memories we carry with us now. After Milla passed away, those memories became sharper and more treasured than ever. And Make A Wish gave us that.

That is why I got on my bike and tested myself. I was confident of completing the challenge and confident it would be tough and would hurt. I wasn’t wrong. But when it hurt, I smiled. As Milla did. As I promised her I would. Like the other children and their families who Make A Wish have helped.

The magic of a wish is in the memories they create.

So, coast to coast. 3 days. 326 miles. But more than double the initial target. £1,139 raised. That is what means the most. That people believed in me and what I was setting out to do. But also why Make A Wish is worth supporting.

Happiness is something we all deserve. And one smile from a Wish Child, a moment to forget their pain, illness, disability and to smile and laugh and be a child, not a patient, that is what I want to help achieve.

Milla stays with me. As always on every bike ride I #rideformilla and I will do again.

What’s next?

A walk. A walk from Cheltenham to Worcester. 26.2 miles. A marathon walk in a day. Time to walk, to think, to reflect and again to raise awareness of Make A Wish.

For donations please visit my justgiving page;

http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/marathonwalkersclub

Thank you!

Tony Frobisher
September 2018

charity, Motivation and Change

And in the End

And in the end…

And in the end it was all worth it.
The pain and struggle, the exhaustion, the sweat. The constant monotony of turning the pedals for mile after mile. Hour after hour. Day after day.
The ceaseless bumping and rattling, shaking and jolting over cracked and broken roads, the hundreds of unknown, unfamiliar roads and streets, undiscovered towns and villages that passed by in a blur.

To reach the end of any journey is to reach a point of contemplation, of reflection, of validation. Was what I have gone through of value, of note or significance. Or was it just that. A journey. Start to finish with nothing of importance in between.

After returning from my coast to coast challenge, and completing 3 days of cycling over 326 mountainous, hilly and windy miles from Aberystwyth to Lowestoft, I have had chance to reflect.

The distances I cycled each day were easily achievable for anyone with a good level of fitness, experience on the bike and a determined mindset.
100, 112 and 114 miles respectively.
But as I know very well, it is so easy to talk of achievement before it has been accomplished. “I am going to cycle from coast to coast in 3 days”. It is said with a casual confidence. An implied certainty. A tacit guarantee. I will do it. No question.

But there are always questions and doubts, uncertainties and intangibles. The ‘what ifs’…will my body cope, what if I get sick, what if I have a mechanical problem I can’t fix, what if I have an accident, what if I just…stop?

Yet the journey would be far less interesting without that element of uncertainty and risk. When you are flying down a steep descent on a deserted mountain road at 35mph, with no one around, one mistake could be a disaster. A pothole, a sheep straying into your path, taking a corner too fast.

The journey is about overcoming your apprehension and fears and encountering and dealing with obstacles you will face. Mental, physical, or emotional.

From the steep climbs, to the wind and cold, the sapping tiredness, the aches and pains, to the nagging worries in your mind, the voice telling you to stop, the emotions that toy with you and make you question what you are doing, the ‘so what?’ that runs in your thoughts…so what if you have done this journey? What have you proved?
It all conspires to work against you.

So what.

So what did I prove?
A 50 year old man can cycle solo from the West Coast of Wales to the East Coast of England in 3 days. I didn’t land on the moon or discover America. But I proved that a journey is more than just miles and reaching an end.

It is about awareness. Of our place on the planet. It is about appreciation. Of our beautiful world and the environment we inhabit. It is about recollection. A chance to spend time alone. In thought and memory. Recalling time spent happy with loved ones no longer here.
But most of all it IS about achievement. It is about confirming the “I am going to”. About bringing the guarantee to a reality.

And silencing doubts and leaving fears behind.

This journey was not just a cycle challenge. It was to raise awareness and money for a special charity, Make A Wish. I raised £1,100 which is fantastic. But it was also in memory of my daughter Milla. And by cycling and engaging people in my journey, I have sought to honour Milla’s memory and to keep her alive in my heart.

Thank you for reading.

Tony20180906_17453820180906_17393320180907_06395620180907_06370420180907_07433320180907_15405620180910_08524320180909_170655

charity

To The Sea – Day 3 Coast to Coast Charity Cycling Challenge for Make A Wish

Day 3 Coast to Coast Charity Cycling Challenge for Make A Wish.

114 miles from Peterborough to Lowestoft.

Total cycled: 328 miles in 3 days from Aberystwyth to Lowestoft

Sometimes the end doesn’t feel like is getting any closer.

What is it like to cycle over 100 miles?
It depends on many factors.

– Fatigue/Energy levels. How tired are you. Today my body was very tired after the two previous days when I had cycled 100 and 112 miles respectively.

– Pain threshold. We each have different levels of pain we can tolerate. Pain can be ignored to a point. But there comes a time when it will affect you, slow you down, or make you stop. Today pain was at times excruciating. Saddles sores in particular, something I have always suffered from.

– Mental state. The prospect sitting and turning pedals along never ending roads for 7 hours or more is difficult to comprehend. Especially in those first few miles. At times the mind weakened and thoughts of stopping, even of giving up, crossed my mind. But messages of support and knowing how children will benefit from the money raised keep you motivated and focussed and silence the doubts.

Also, envisioning the end, a hot shower, a cup of tea, a lie down…all of that helps enormously.

– The weather. One of the biggest factors on any long ride. Today the wind was so strong. It toyed with me. On some roads it pushed me along, sustaining over 20mph easily for long periods of time. But a turn in the road and the wind slammed into your face and you felt like cycling through treacle. But I told myself to keep going, no matter how slow. At least it was warm and dry and the roads were flat.

– Terrain. From the leg sapping climbs of Wales to the pan flat Fenlands of East Anglia. Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk are especially flat counties. Very welcome after two days of big altitude gain.

So it all adds up. There are other factors. How old or fit you are, constantly stopping to check your location and navigate along unfamiliar country roads, stopping to refuel, buy food, fill your drinks bottles etc.

But today, the miles eventually started to tick down. Lowestoft seemed so far away. Especially in Aberystwyth on Friday. But it began to get closer, the miles passed as the final 20 miles the tailwind returned.
And then after 7 and a half hours I arrived.

Lowestoft has a very confusing one way system I somehow ignored, preferring to ride up the pedestrian high street, before entering an unattractive industrial park by the sea. And that is where I found the finish. Ness Point, the most easterly point of Great Britain. A large round, flat monument with mile markers to other cities, right by the sea cut off by wave breaks, huge rocks hugging the shoreline. Overlooked by a massive solitary wind turbine called ‘Goliath’.
I was met by an old university friend, Jan. It was nice to have someone at the finish to welcome me. The setting for the end was quite downbeat and nondescript. But it was good to finally finish the ride.

I reached the guesthouse and discovered my rear wheel had a puncture! 328 miles from Aberystwyth to Lowestoft without a problem and one extra mile to the guesthouse and the bike has a mechanical! As if it were in protest at what I put it through.

To cycle 328 miles in 3 days, each of 100 or more miles, is an achievement I am very proud of. Each mile was a battle of willpower and determination A 50 year old body and mind, the mountain climbs, the wind, the cold, fatigue, mental weakness, the continual pain. Did I know I would finish? I knew I could complete the distance. But it was a while since I had ridden 3 consecutive days over a hundred miles. I hoped I could.
It was the thought of Milla, my daughter. Her smile and laugh, whenever she saw me in my lycra cycling kit, that spurred me on.
Knowing I was just a father who wanted to and was making a difference. That gave me all the motivation I needed.

The total raised exceeded £1,000 as I reached the end. Double the initial target.

And that is what this ride was about. It was a goal to cycle from the West Coast of Wales to the East Coast of England. I achieved that goal. I am proud and happy to have done so.

But I feel prouder and happier to have raised so much to let Make A Wish continue their wonderful work.

And to honour Milla’s memory.

 

charity

Tour de Doughnut – Day 2 Coast to Coast Charity Cycling Challenge for Make A Wish

Doughnuts Are A Cyclist’s Best Friend (and a tailwind)

Day 2 of the Coast to Coast Charity Cycling Challenge for Make A Wish. 112 miles cycled in 7 hours 35 minutes from Worcester to Peterborough.

5am. The alarm rudely sounded and immediately I could feel my body resisting and every muscle aching and begging to stay in bed. All day. All week. When you have cycled 100 miles over Welsh Mountains, your body naturally feels like you are taking the mickey when you suggest it has to do it again…oh and I forgot to mention it is over 100 miles today.
To add to the overall lethargy, the mind had forgotten that Worcester and home was not the finish.
So it took a good deal of willpower to get out the door at 6:30am and start cycling. Waving off my wife Rini and daughter Louisa is always hard.

It took a good hour to get into the rhythm, but I reached Stratford upon Avon after 25 miles for my first break. Stratford hold a special place in our hearts. We spent many happy afternoons having a picnic by the river with Louisa and Milla. Having lost Milla, it is always a poignant moment to return to where we were so happy together.

Onwards and up the Fosse Way, an old Roman road linking Stow and Leicester. I enjoyed breakfast number 2 at the excellent Hill Top Farm cafe.
And food became the theme of the day. I was hungry when I set off, still depleted from the day before. Energy bars, gels and the first of 3 doughnuts had been consumed already. Food. Keep eating. And I did.

The hills of Northamptonshire beckoned. A fortifying pasty and another doughnut in Market Harborough saw me up Dingley Hill, long, not steep, but the longest hill of the day.

Into Corby and a stop at my Dad’s house. But he wasn’t in (I knew he wouldn’t be, but popped in on the off chance). And the final 25 miles to Peterborough.

And then the wind picked up. A raging gale. Directly behind me. A delicious tailwind that pushed me all the way to Peterborough, cruising along at 22mph. Fantastic. More please.

So, I made it to my Mum’s in Peterborough. A long ambition to cycle from Worcester to Peterborough accomplished. No more doughnuts, but the biggest hug and a delicious slice or three of home made Weetabix bread and a well earned cup of tea. It is always great to be at my Mum’s.

But the incredible support from family, friends and strangers really kept me focussed and motivated. Over £900 raised. Amazing.

Tomorrow is a flat day but the wind is possibly not quite as helpful. Around 110 miles to Lowestoft.

And more doughnuts please.