It’s late January 2016 and today I woke up in a bed (yes, not a tent for a change) in Fuzeta, a tiny beach village in the Algarve region of southern Portugal.
The sun’s rays are reflecting through the cracks of the heavy curtains and I know that this is a sign to roll out of bed and prepare for another day’s cycling. Yesterday’s heavy rain has gone, the day is fresh without a cloud in the sky and I can’t wait to start cycling!
As I stand up, mechanically putting on my cycling gear – as we have done just about every day for the past 9 months – Gary my husband is already preparing breakfast and calls me when it is ready.
We eat and then pack the bicycle panniers for lunch and within half an hour are off again on our trusty Haibike xDuro Trekking e-bikes. As I start to cycle I soon realise that I forgot to do my daily morning stretches and exercises to relieve my life-long back pain, but the pain simply wasn’t there to remind me!
I simply can’t describe how happy I am that my body is finally pain free after a whole year of training and cycling. Not only am I pain free, but I also feel so strong and vital after 9 months on the road cycle touring.
I turned 57 in October whilst touring the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland and compared to the same time last year I feel 10 years younger!
I now smile to myself when I think back to the day Gary put forward his plan to me for us to break the world e-bike long distance record. Basically I agreed in desperation just to change the situation I was in at the time, but realistically I never thought it would happen.
Going back another year, I had always wanted to experience teaching overseas and this time last year I was nearing the end of my first year of a 3-year contract at an International School in Bangkok.
It was a lovely school and I had great co-workers, but due to the teaching philosophy there was a lot of preparation for the daily program, I spent 5 to 6 days a week at school working long hours.
Apart from trying to maintain my general well being for stress, working long hours with 9-10 year old children resulted in my lower back to cause a lot of pain due to all the bending and work we did on the floor with the children, given it wasn’t a traditional school with tables and chairs.
For many years now I have suspected that I had perforated discs in my lower back and have suffered from some arthritis in my knees and hands due to bad family genes, but I have always managed the stiffness with yoga and palates.
But in Bangkok my back pain was getting worse so I went to the local hospital for an MRI. The results confirmed I had 2 perforated discs but the physician gave me some life changing exercises to control the pain! Amazing, and worth every cent of the medical care! I feared he might suggest surgery!!!
Well then came part two of my story. Food Poisoning! This ordeal was covered in my first blog. I became a train-wreck after salmonella poising in Bangkok and my life’s priorities needed a massive rethink as a result of the illness.
To fill the gaps please read my previous blog. “Overcoming Acute Reactive Arthritis and the Recuperative Powers of Cycling “ Published on February 15th, 2015 www.ebikecycletourists.com
As it has turned out, Gary’s ambitious plan to cycle in excess of 16,047 kilometres to set a new e-bike world long distance record in Europe and the UK in 2015/16 was the game changer.
After sitting me down on the veranda of our Bangkok unit after a bad day at work with his proposition to go e-biking for up to 18 months, he expected me to say, “You have got to be joking”! But I jumped at the idea to work on regaining my health by cycling.
And that is what happened. I am now truly fitter, stronger and totally pain free for the first time since I was a teenager – and that is all because of the amazing benefits achieved from cycling.
Looking back over the last year I feel so lucky. We have achieved our goal and have broken the World Record for E-Bike long distance cycle touring record; have visited 12 countries; have cycled more than 17,000 km; have had so many wonderful experiences; have met some of the most amazing people from all over the world and have seen so many beautiful places!
Now we don’t want to change our lives and plan to keep cycling to maintain our health and to continue living for the moment. Who knows what exciting adventures are just around the corner!!