Well, how it I come to be sat here writing this blog ? Twitter mainly and being inspired by Ryan's journey, literally on his ride around Britain and his Mental Health journey.
Mental health. Let's just think about that.
Mental health. As a kid, I would have immediately thought of a person in a straightjacket in a padded cell, not someone who could function day to day, earn a decent living and look to the outside world to be perfectly healthy. I feel that's the biggest issue, you can't always see mental health.
OK, if a person is sat in a corner crying their eyes out, you immediately know something is wrong. Most passers by would be concerned but what about the mental health sufferers who are crying on the inside but appear fine on the outside ?
That is how I feel at times. There have been times when I've just burst into tears for no apparent reason. The times when you are alone and you can't breathe due to anxiety. The times when getting out of bed just seems too much to even bear to do.
Getting diagnosed with Depression and Dyslexia was a relief to be honest. At least I now know why. I've always felt different.
Being an only child in a single parent household left me being bullied at school because I " was different " according to the loser who bullied me. I say loser as that's how I now feel about him. Losing a good friend due to a fatal accident when I was 9 hit me hard.
Leaving primary school, I went to a high school in a different town to get away from the primary school lot. High school was better and I got my first Mountain Bike. I had a small tool kit and a water bottle and off I went along the old dismantled railway lines which litter this part of the north of England. I felt free, my mind was thinking about other things, history, what the railway line was like, the boys and men going to the pits. I felt transported to another world where my imagination ran free. Reading a history book, my theories on everything were probably complete fiction, but I didn't care. I was free from my normal everyday thoughts.
Skip forward a few years, and cars came along. Don't get me wrong, I dont regret anything about the times I spent mooching about in cars, driving aimlessly round, getting into trouble with the cops but, by this time, the bike was dumped in my nans kitchen. It stayed there for 13 years with regular reminders from Nan of " will you move this bloody bike " and " if tha's not gooin ride this bloody thing, how's bout takin it t'tip " I had no intentions of ever going out on it again. Why would I get tired out going somewhere when I could just jump in the car ?
My best mate got married and I was his Best Man. In the photos I was embarrassed as I was fat. Simple as, end of story, Fat. Think the professionalism of the photographer brought out every inch of chubbiness ( don't get me wrong, I'm still fat now, just not as fat ; ) ) It was then another mate and my best mate decided to start cycling and lent me a bike that was lighter than the steel one I had at nans. I was apprehensive about it at first as I just had visions of being out of breath in a mess at the side of the road and my fears were real, I was an out of breath mess at the side of the road.
But, you know what, I didn't care.
Getting on that bike, freewheeling down the hills, climbing up them and messing about overtaking my mate, dropping back to slow him down and generally taking the piss took me back to being a kid again.
We decided to treat ourselves to new bikes and that's were it started. Getting out more, getting bit fitter and faster makes you feel better both physically and mentally.
The thing I love about cycling is you are not relying on anyone.
Like I said earlier, as a child I always felt like the spare part. If I was playing a team sport, I'd be relying on other people turning up and can't play unless they do. With cycling, just get on the bike and go.
I've learned so much from just being out and seeing things you don't see in a car, the odd old milestone, old steps which must have led somewhere once, a dead end road which was once a main road that is now bypassed. " Looks interesting, I will have a look online after and see where that went. " as its given me the sense of freedom and space in my head to absorb more stuff.
I ride alone 99.9 % of the time and that's my space, my time, my route.