Flamme Rouge

And so we reach the end of this particular journey. In cycling parlence I am under the red kite and in the final kilometre of this stage of the reclaim. For some a while now I have been contemplating how to keep this blog going. After much thought, various ideas and endless procrastination I reached the decision before Christmas that Reclaiming the AbandonedBicycle had reached a natural conclusion. Since then I have been waiting for the last few moves to be reeled back in, for certain pieces of this jigsaw to fall into place before writing this final piece.

Over the last 3 years I have tried to be honest with you all about the journey I have been on. Looking back the journey has been an interesting adventure. It’s been traumatic and painful at times but I also have to admit that it has been fun.

I started this blog in the build up to my first sportive but overtime it became something more than that, a place for me to put my own feelings down on paper and to share my experiences. I’ve explored lots of thoughts and concerns, reflecting on the world around me and commenting on issues which have made me think. Cycling has never been far away from the topic of conversation and it has proved a useful focus and apt metaphor.

Some of you have been along for the duration of the ride (which must be like watching the entirety of a rather long and mundane Tour de France stage on Eurosport) and I thank you for your kinds words of support and encouragement here and through other communication channels. Others have dipped in and out or caught the occasional post because of the subject matter. I have never ceased to be humbled by the support you have all provided. I never wanted to become nor do I want to be now a standard bearer for mental health or depression. But one thing has become clear, this blog has been a help to others in similar circumstances. I hope that this blog remains here to be a resource for others in the future to know they are not alone and to speak up to themselves and to those around them. And to think that 3 years ago I thought it would be cyclists who would find it an interesting read.

And so we near the end. Today I can say with more confidence than when I started that I am a happier person. I am a different person.  know myself better though not perfectly. I am aware of what I don’t want and am taking more pleasure in finding out what I do want. I know how to handle stress and anxiety better, I can deal with more of what life throws at me and accept that this sometimes – often! – means avoiding certain situations and dodging some of balls that life throws in my direction. That no longer feels like failure, in a peverse way for some this is success. As I read in an interesting blog yesterday, this is me.

What now? As ever cyclist and cycling fan knows the end of the stage is but a respite before the next action begins, be that the next stage the following day or the next race in the weeks to come. For me this means some new challenges. In December I became Dr AbandonedBicycle as I passed my PhD – a small milestone which tops off a 13 year research career. And with this under my belt I am moving to a new job in April which builds on the expertise of this but takes me in a new and challenging direction. I continue to take photos, finding a new enthusiasm and a re-emerging creative streak now I feel less pressure to “make it work” (keep an eye on www.abandonedbicyclephotography.co.uk for new blogging adventures). I now bake bread once a week, it is my attempt at mindfulness. And though the bike has been abandoned for the last few months in favour of Shanks’ pony I’m sure the spring will see me hit the roads once again. I think that’s plenty to be getting on with.

And so this is not the end but another beginning. Hopefully we will all meet at some point during the next stage. Now where’s that start village coffee and newspaper?