It was November 2005. The previous day I had seen the Daggers lose 2-1 away to Hartlepool in the first round of the FA Cup. We should have had a penalty for handball in the dying minutes, but it was not to be. A Hartlepool fan said it was one of the few times he’d seen the whole away end stand up and shout ‘penalty’ in unison.
I stayed over and drove up to Newcastle in the morning. I had a quick tour around The Baltic, loving the silent disco, before continuing on with my journey. I was going to drive what The AA described as one of the 10 Best Scenic Drives in the World; the A686 from Hexham to Penrith
The weather was wet; it had been raining and there was still a light drizzle in the air. The grey of November had started to overtake the beautiful autumnal colours. The car climbed up and over some twisting turning roads and I drove slowly to take in as much of the view as I possible, on my way up to the Hartside Pass.
At the top, I went into the café and chose a piece of walnut cake to have with a mug of warm tea and sloped outside in the rain. The views were breathtaking. The huge expanse all around me – the view to the North, towards Scotland and the view South over the Lake District. It is the kind of view where the only comment can be ‘My God! Isn’t this country beautiful?’
And that is where I made the decision. At some point in the future, I wanted to cycle the route, known as the C2C, from Coast to Coast. I was not a regular cyclist but like many had a reasonable bike in the back of a garage, and always keen to use it more. I had a job local to my home but the need to always transport sales kits and books, was not conducive to cycling.
In myself I was happy. I had a job I loved and which I believed I was quite successful at. I had a small business on the side. A good circle of friends and I was in the early days of a relationship with a man I adored (a keen cyclist). Work had been driving me nuts though – too many new acquisitions with limited resources and only a certain number of hours in the day. So I had booked a few days in the Lake District to escape from the madness and gather my thoughts.
It shows you where I was work-wise, in that the books I had with me were Take Back Your Life by Sally McGhee and How to do a good job and go home on time. I had to take stock of what was going on. I was an integral part of the team that had to deliver the highest results. That didn’t scare or worry me, but the sheer volume of output did.
I’ve always seen that moment of standing on the Hartside Pass as the time my life began to fall apart. It started a cascade of events that came to a head 5 months later. A few days later a colleague sadly died from a routine illness and life spiralled out of control.
If you hear me talk about my feelings of that time, you will know that I describe April 2006 as ‘a car crash waiting to happen’.
And that is what happened. As you’ll read on my sponsorship page or elsewhere, a minor car crash changed the course of my life.
It’s taken me over 12 years to get it back on track. Tomorrow, I will be cycling the C2C, 140 miles from Whitehaven to Tynemouth, via Penrith. All being well, in 48 hours I will be back on the Hartside Pass, this time on my bike, and my dream will have been realised. It’s been a long time coming. Back in 2005 it was the start of my life falling apart, now in 2018 it is the start of the rest of my life coming together. Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this journey.