Getting better at the cycling malarkey

Monica Fee. DER0815-149KM
Monica Fee. DER0815-149KM

Part 2 of a series of excerpts from Monica Fee’s blog of getting ready to take part in Cycle Against Suicide in memory of her brother, Kieran

Post 4

I have become a bit of a cyclist stalker and have been asking random people to cycle with me , they all appear to be men and I am wondering where are all the female cyclists? Anyways I was all geared up for long cycle on Sunday with a young man and he had to cancel ,it was Valentine’s weekend after all.

We will catch up again and needless to say I went straight for the fizz once I knew I wasn’t under pressure to prove myself to a stranger. Had a nice dinner with friends and planned to go out myself on Sunday but tiredness took over, all the early breakfasts caught up with me. I put jim jams on after the last guest left and got sucked into candy crush instead. Gutted later that I didn’t go and got really down about it so I reckon I have the cycling bug.

Today I posted on Facebook for someone to go cycling with me and a lovely young man agreed to meet me at the Complex . He is the same age as Josh so I thought he was pretty cool humouring me. We did less than I hoped but as I showed off a little pretending to be fitter than I am it was probably best we didn’t do the 30 I had planned. He said as it was a little bit wind type today I should ride on his tail wind, more Swahili to me.

He said it meant he would cycle in front of me and shield me from the wind . As his waist was about 12 inches and mine is about 42 inches there was no chance of that working out but he meant well . He gave me lots of help and advice and I have become a little cocky today and happier about getting on The Dangler.

I even managed to take a drink from my water bottle, soaked me self but still got a sip and I could see James snigger. I even negotiated a roundabout with a wobbly hand signal . Feeling very pleased with myself tonight and I am getting very attached to The Dangler.

Today is a good day .

Post 5

This cycling malarkey was supposed to help distract me from my grief of losing Kieran and to raise more awareness of loneliness, depression, suicide and maybe help break the stigma that goes with it. I was hoping it helps more people to talk about it and have the courage to ask for help and raise much needed money for Foyle Search & Aware Defeat Depression along my journey .

So far all it’s done is take up the little spare time I have and my house is boggin. It’s turned me into a cycling stalker and cost me a fortune , half of which I have lied to Adrian about .

I came very close to smothering him last night , he turns into a Gruffalo after 12 midnight; his saving grace is he’s been 100% supportive of me doing this cycle and was even showing me how to use the tyre pressure pump at 8am this morning (not a good time as I was up doing early B&B breakfast and was a little grumpy). He cleaned and polished the Dangler every week since she arrived, she’s allowed into the house every night, he brings home little bits for her every week .

I am so sore I couldn’t sleep and spent the night stressing and being sad about Kieran and how unjust life is at times; why us? Life’s a bitch sometimes. I now have sore ears from wearing ear plugs, the only part of me pain free is my Peter pointer fingers and my face.

The only positive thing I can see so far is all the support I am getting from friends and family, they make me laugh at myself and the writing is like therapy. Mammy’s always right - her motto is “every cloud has a silver lining”.

I chose to do this cycle but at the end of the day if Kieran hadn’t ended his own life I wouldn’t be pounding the roads .

No cycling for me today, away to buy anti inflammatory and pain relief. It’s me Tisney that’s sore .

Today is a bad day, but onwards and upwards.

Post 6

Yesterday I was to cycle with Michelle but she got held up and couldn’t make it. I considered not going but thought of Philip and pushed myself out .

From work to the end of the line through the Waterside, went on the footpath as much as possible until I came to Spencer Road. Town, it was like a maze, cars parked everywhere weaving in and out. Went under the bridge and was gobsmacked there was no footpath at left hand side of road but managed.

Got super cocky when I came to the railway and even took one hand off the bar and put it on my knee for about 1 minute. I never realised how far from the ground I was until now but that one little gesture brought a ton of confidence, I then practiced taking off a glove with my teeth and got a tissue out of my sleeve and blew my nose.

The amount of snot I blow on these cycles must mean I will have a weight loss. Putting the glove back on was tricky my face was on the handle bars while I battled to get it back on , lots of wobbling but I did it.

Feeling very proud of myself I could only see a straight road ahead I decided I would go the whole hog and chance taking a drink. As I still can’t look down I fumbled for the water bottle and pulled it out took a spittle and took ages getting it back on the holder .

Passed three dodgy looking men; one looked like he was beaten up, one looked drunk and the other looked like he did the beating up. He had a HUGH stick in his two hands. I spent the next 3 or 4 miles worrying about having to come back past them again and my head started running away from me ,it didn’t help that I was surrounded for miles of woodland and on my own.

I got into such a state that I was doing 28km an hour without any effort. I decided I couldn’t pass them again and I should keep going, head to Carraigans onto Lifford, Stabane and home the back road via Donemana, adding another couple of hours to my cycle and it would be dark.

Why do I think like that? I even wondered if they would hide in the woods and catch me, that the stick would be either used to whack me off the bike or stick in my wheel spokes. There’s nothing like fear to make you pedal. Managed to calm myself down and decided to go back past them; I even decided if I was attacked that would say my little Garmin gadget was a camera that Adrian could see me at all times.

It’s funny writing it down today but I was such a scaredy cat yesterday and in my head it all seemed possible. It is also a realisation of how crazy my mind can get at times and how awful it is for those who battle with depression as sometimes they have no control of how they think.

Today is a rest day, apparently they are an essential part of my training; if you don’t take a rest day it can set your body up for a breakdown. It’s so my muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen themselves .

I don’t think I have muscles yet but my crazy head could do with a rest to repair and regenerate. I might even give The Dangler a wax and polish.

Post 7

There are several reasons why I call my bike “The Dangler”.

One of the reasons is because my cycling experience so far is me dangling on the seat holding on for dear life, hoping that things will change and I will become a real cyclist.

Hoping I can achieve my goal that I can change how I am thinking about Kieran, hoping I can make a difference and stop someone else from falling.

Today me and The Dangler have to do 15/20 miles. I am dressed for the cycle in what I can only describe as”a cat in a stockin’ look “and I’m wondering do I have fluid in me knees? Or is this how my legs really look?

If I’m not back here slabbering tomorrow someone come and look for me. If any of my friends live along the way, come see me panting into your town, I’ll be needing all the hugs I can get.

Post 8

I took the Dangler to work as they wanted to do a story about me, work and cycling. I was asked to drool over the Dangler like those girls do in bikinis semi naked over sports cars and the only two words the quiet photographer said was “big smile”.

I probably could have got away with this look in my 20s & 30s but not now, bad times. Someone had a party in my body and forgot to tidy up. As anyone over weight in their mid 50s will know it’s hard to drool over a bike sucking everything in while you are having a hot flush .

I did my best but he was relentless or maybe unhappy with his shots because I was asked to go to the car park in full view of a busy afternoon in Drumahoe. Blocking the car park, everyone laughing, I asked could he photo shop and was ignored because he had a better idea.

He drags my staff Clare and Katie into the photos, they are cringing but I turn into boss mode and insist they block my protruding stomach; they did their best. Anyways it’s for a good cause.

I am doing a big cycle from Muff to Carndonagh back through Buncrana to Muff, I’m both excited and nervous but really looking forward to meeting Joseph for the first time. He is doing the two weeks CAS cycle also and did part of it last year; he contacted me via Facebook and he planned the route.

I was talking in work about one of my cycling days yesterday and saying how crazy my head is and the fear I have when out cycling ,especially on my own.

I was saying how I have become a cyclist stalker and it’s all men who respond and that I’m older than most of their mammys. I was called a cougar, that’s a first .

Today was supposed to be a big cycle with Joseph: we were going to do the Muff to Carndonagh back via Buncrana route stopping for lunch along the route.

He had come up from Dublin for the weekend, I checked him out on Facebook he seems sound and I am looking forward to it.

Adrian has said I am to phone him if it’s too much and he will come get me. Joseph canceled said it was too wet and windy so I stayed bed .

I think I have injured me Tisney and it is probably for the best that I don’t cycle, everything is meant for a reason .

It started to snow, hail, lashing rain and winds. Adrian fixed my bike seat and polished the Dangler; he probably won’t let me take it out on a wet day now.