When I finally accepted the enormity of what had happened to me, I assumed that my life was over.
Then in the spring of 2017, Jo Frost presented me with an opportunity that I hadn’t considered, my public speaking journey which, inadvertently gave me the confidence to go on to create my new normal.
All of my working life I’d been striving to be a top salesman. You could argue that I did achieve this goal when I became the Sales Director for IBM Rational.
The one goal that I didn’t achieve was, I never became a top cyclist. I had the potential having made The British National Squad but, I never pursued my dream of becoming a top professional, my career took precedence.
I became so good at sales largely because, I had the gift of the gab, more importantly I had the ability to turn a negative in every situation into a positive.
I’d like to believe that, even as a disabled or, disadvantaged brain injury survivor I still carry very similar traits to those that I had before my accident.
I have the confidence, even though my speech isn’t always the best face to face but, I still have the confidence to stand in front of audiences of any size to share my journey.
I have the uncanny ability to keep on pushing myself, even when all that I want to do is sleep, I must be absolutely bonkers.
Not content with enjoying my public speaking journey, I’ve also been able to return to cycling, more recently competitive cycling, riding for my new team 365 winning my first two races and, getting well placed in the third.
True to form on Thursday 16th June Ian Richard Sanders, Rhys Thomas and I, are heading to the Scottish Highlands to embark on our next cycling challenge, the iconic NC500.
The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. The route is also known as the NC500 and was launched in 2015, linking many features in the north Highlands of Scotland in one touring route.
Having already cycled the JOGLE, I can’t begin to tell you how tough and truly breath-taking the scenery can be in Scotland…
Being a disabled brain injury survivor is often unbearable but, let me ask you, how many people do you know in my position or, not in my position who are so motivated to keep on striving to be the very best that they can be?
I’m guessing not many….
Therefore, achieving all these different cycling goals, goes a long way towards making being disabled almost bearable.
When I pulled into the car park at Lands-end having just cycled 956.09 miles from John ‘O’ Groats, I burst into floods of tears not because, we’d managed to cycle all that way, I never doubted the fact that Ian and I would achieve it, looking back it was more the realisation that we’d just achieved something that the majority of people can’t.
I keep reading about a Scottish guy called Josh Quigley on LinkedIn, Josh set off from Scotland with the intention of cycling, yes cycling around the World. Josh didn’t make it when he was forced to retire following a collision with a car.
Josh returned to Scotland and, not to be deterred by his accident, towards the end of summer last year he went on to set the World Record for cycling the NC500, when he cycled none stop for three days and three nights to complete the 516 mile journey becoming the Guinness World Record holder.
I think Ian and I will just be content with completing the 516 miles, especially given how hilly it’s supposed to be.
I keep finding it almost amusing how my life appears to have gone full circle, I started competitive cycling when I was just 14 years old, when I rode my first ever 10 mile time-trial recording a time of 27:04.
Now 34 years later I find myself competing again as a disabled cyclist….
I’m more than confident, that when Birgit took me to see a guy called Kevin Dunseath at a shop called D-TEK in Little Threatford, Cambridgeshire to buy my first trike, an ICE Sprint.
I’m confident that nobody ever anticipated what would happen next.
To go from cycling just 6 miles round Canon Hill Park in Birmingham, to now having cycled 956.04 miles from John ‘O’ Groats to Lands-end, whoop whoop….