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  • At the moment I'm conscious that I'm writing stories past.

    And I'm doing that, because my present is under such monumental change that I am unable to articulate it fully. Soon I hope to be able to.

    I was thinking of this, the day I cried cycling a mountain. It is a true story from 2010. But it is also a true story for today, in 2012.

    It all began in April 2010 when Andy asked if I would consider cycling in the mountain ranges of Spain to raise money for Cancer Research. He wanted to mark the 20 year loss of his father to the disease.

    I wasn't the only person he asked but despite not actually having cycled in near 20 years myself, I was the only one who said yes.

    From then on, I started cycling. Just around town at first, unfit and unsure of myself. Within a few months I was taking myself out for rides through the Moors. The undulating greens and greys of Yorkshire. I took myself and turned myself into a rider. From nothing to 40km rides before lunch. Andy was stationed away in Leighton Buzzard with the RAF so we didn't get to train together often. Fortunately motivating myself was not so difficult.

    Still. I knew that was nothing, not really. Not compared to what we'd arranged.

    We left at the end of August and landed in Madrid. We had one night to rebuild our bikes (from the boxes in the belly of the plane) and climatise ourselves. We had landed in the middle of a heatwave. No Yorkshire Moor could ever have prepared me for cycling through that City and out towards the mountain range in 40 degree heat. Scorched earth and dry, dusty bones in constant motion.

    We were there. And we were doing it.

    The second day we left Mataelpino and headed towards Segovia, an elevated climb of 20km over a 10% gradient, raising us 1860m over sea level.

    I hadn't ridden that kind of gradient, over that kind of distance in blistering heat followed by blasts of constant rain before. My bike had been put together hastily and I realised it wasn't moving the way I was used. The brake system was over-tightened and I found it placing resistance on the back wheel, all the way up that mountain.

    At the 15km mark, I began to cry. Not even silent tears. I couldn't. I was so tired of pulling that bike with all my stuff on it up that mountain, with that resistance. I was noisy and red faced but I was still cycling. One leg after the other. Pushing, pushing, pushing. I didn't want to stop.

    Andy, feeling responsible for my happiness asked me plaintively to stop crying. I part grimaced and part smiled through the tears and said;

    "I can do... it (sniff, sniff) I just... need.... to cry.... all... the.. way. Its ok.... (blub, blub) I don't mind.... (sniff) crying...."

    And so I cycled, one leg after the other. Push, push, push. Until we got to the top. Which is that picture you can see of me and Andy now.

    After we'd climbed that mountain, we rode the other side all the way down, smiling and whooping and hollering in the shaded summer sun.

    (in all, we rode 900km in 14 days. I loved every minute. Even the minutes I didn't love)

    Of this mountain that I'm on right now. I'd say I'm at the 18km mark. Nearly at the top.

    (This story is part of an agreement I have made with Helen Crawford to write a cowbird story a day for 30 days)

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