My knee was still proving difficult, and I made the decision to swap from rider to support and drive a van. I had just finished doing this with the Ride From the Sun and didn’t mind too much the idea of supporting the riders. We had already had a hospitalisation and we were only halfway through the ride, so there was plenty to do.
Winding up from Geneva towards Annecy we were finding ourselves lost again; I had lost contact with the riders and the communication between the support team was cracking, as were tempers – especially mine.
We had covered nearly 700km in extreme conditions, with 700km to go including a traverse over the Alps and I was questioning why we were continuing and what, personally I was achieving and contributing. I took a break near Annecy in a small coffee shop in an industrial estate and switched my phone off to try and collect my thoughts.
Fors and againsts, my sponsors, fundraisers, family at home, train timetables, who to leave the keys with if I go, who was injured, were the organisers coping, were the support staff coping, who will lead, this was my whirlwind of thoughts and feelings I couldn’t resolve from the drivers seat of a support van lost in Annecy.
Winston Churchill once said “Never waste a good crisis” which is what I was in, so I finished my coffee, thanked them for having me and climbed back into the van and drove on to meet the group and figure out next steps.
We had reached the mountains – which is my natural element. I run, ride and ski in the mountains of the Alps Maritime region all year-round and had passed through the region only a few weeks before. I love the area and my mind was appeased to a certain extent seeing the summits and valleys appear. My thoughts turned to those who had donated, who had put time aside to help me and who believed in what the Cogs4Cancer charity stood for.
It had been only a few short weeks since I had stood up in front of the Ride From the Sun riders and asked them to buy armbands to support the ride I was now in the middle of. They believed in what I was doing, so why didn’t I?
For me, the ride had stopped being about raising money for Charity and feeling part of the support for cancer survivors and their families and had become a daily list of injuries, navigation issues and equipment failure. I had lost my way.
This was a turning point, because I could either leave now – or find a knee-brace and strap my leg up and continue on. Which, after talking to James at lunch is what I did.
We finished that day riding to St Jean de Maurienne through the dark valleys chasing the setting sun – our first real glimpse of sunlight since the beginning of the ride.
Reminding us that we were deep in Tour de France territory, and reminding us of how close we were to the Col du Télégraphe and Galibier, our hotel in St Jean de Maurienne was a living museum of cycling and Tour de France history. The 2019 Tour had passed through a few months before, which for me was a real headtrip considering I had been in Brussels to see the start and this was now my 3rd crossing of Europe within 5 months.
I was beginning to feel like each day was Groundhog Day…
Beers, dinner and bed. We were meeting the Col du Télégraphe and Galibier tomorrow.