Sunday 26 May 2013

To Aspire...

I think to aspire is to do something great. It doesn't matter how big or small our dreams are, but to be able to have a dream and to aspire to achieve it, gives us meaning. I sometimes wonder if the one thing, the one luxury taken away from people who want for nothing, is that they don't have the excitement, the trials, the tribulations, the agony and the ecstasy, of endeavouring to achieve even the smallest dream.

I suppose I say that, because I wonder, like most people do, what it feels like when you achieve all your dreams? I wonder even if you can say, what a dream even is to aspire to and what would just be merely a target to achieve? Well, I suppose it's incredibly personal, I suppose the more you have achieved, the less you have to aspire to and one persons dream is another's nightmare - take children for example. I suspect that there are many women to aspire to reach the top of their dream profession. I think there are many others who dream of spending as much time as they have watching their children grow and helping them flourish.
I certainly would think that in order to aspire to a dream however, you have the ability to make it happen yourself, or at least, contribute to making it happen.

I'm not sure I could write this post, in the context of explaining this properly without mentioning one of the greatest dreamers of modern times. Not an athlete, but a preacher in the USA, Martin Luther King. I supposed what he aspired to, was so incredible, that when he said: "I have a dream..." he aspired to achieve it by galvanising people of any race into action. He did achieve it.

My dream isn't as big and I certainly don't think is something I can aspire to achieve myself. It doesn't mean it is less important than another dream though.
I dream that one day people with epilepsy will be looked at as equal to someone who doesn't have a disability in a job interview, in life, that people would know if they saw an epileptic seizure and know what to do when they saw it.
The specific aspiration for the next few years is that I will achieve the honour of being the first British woman to finish Race Across America Solo, that our Mixed 4 team break the Race Across America record and that I am able to break the women's track cycling WR.

But dreams change too.
If I achieved all of those things, I don't think I would be as happy as if our cycling club, Epilepsy Forward, grew into something that people, even if it was just in the cycling community, recognised, respected, was aware of and that the riders would go on and show their abilities on the national, maybe even international stage.
I think the biggest aspiration I have in my life is to help create even something as small as a sports team, but one that was strong and encompassed more people that had the same dream as me.

I guess then, what we dream for epilepsy is a big dream to aspire to after all, but if many people have that same aspiration to achieve it, then it is won't seem quite as daunting.

...and maybe one day we will make it happen.

Friday 17 May 2013

One New Groupset and a Big Gear Change

As sporting metaphors go, bicycles and the stuff that drives them are fairly rich pickings. Yesterday the object most dear to me because of what it gives me in return, my bike, essentially had a major organ transplant, with the first full groupset change I've made in about 10 years.
For those not familiar with cycling terminology, the groupset includes everything from the chain and all it comes into contact with, to the brakes and the levers on the handlebars. As a result, even with constant maintenance of the old one, my riding is smoother and more efficient than it was this time last week.

The Epilepsy Forward Cycling project however, has been a bit of a different story. It's a good job I have a new groupset, because we've just made one hell of a change of gears.

Since this is after all, a diary, it made sense to document what was happening with Epilepsy Forward and disappointingly, the Race Across America plans - the Mixed 4 Team record attempt and following Solo attempt, have been put back a year due to funding. Cue a drop from the larger of the two big gears on the crank.
There has however been a slow ramping up of the smaller gears to fill the gap in my 2013 summer personally and for the team, or rather, project... (more on that later!) a big step.
I had always planned to ride the London Ride 100, to raise money for Epilepsy Action at the start of August, however, as of yesterday, it won't be just that I'm training for. I've finally taken the plunge and entered the British 24HR TT Championships which take place in late July. Something which I've been planning to do for years, but never quite got round to be able to train properly for.
The hope is competitive training for the British Championship should make for the 6 hour target for the Prudential Ride London 100, a very achievable target, just 2 weeks later.

Among the disappointment of having to put back the Race Across America plans a year however, there is excitement for Epilepsy Forward in general. A new step in another direction, but a very logical one.
Charities like UK Youth have shown that cycling can raise the profile of a charity hugely and since the whole objective of Epilepsy Forward was to raise the profile of the condition, it seemed like a no brainer to affiliate as a British Cycling club. It means allowing people who share the same values as we do, to race under a team epilepsy focused, have the condition feature in the British Cycling rankings and race results, but most importantly, allow people to meet each other and be able to ride together.

The likelihood is that for any other team however, raising their profile would be the main, sometimes only objective. In the case of Epilepsy Forward CC though, it could do so much more than that.
The club has the ability to tackle the issue of the isolation that comes with the condition, it has the ability to raise funds for charity and not only that, but for new members to British Cycling, give huge financial security if the very unlikely event occurs that a seizure could result in an accident, through membership of the National Governing Body. The club has the ability to promote the use of medical ID for it's riders, irrespective of if they have epilepsy or not. It could facilitate first aid training for members, so they know how to best help anyone they come into contact with, should they have a seizure.
But most of all, even just through the colour of the kit, it will hopefully give the members a sense of pride about the shirt on their back.

You often have to take a step back before you can take a step forward, but I strongly believe that as a rider I will become stronger and as a project we've become more ambitious.

At the end of the day, the team side of the project can make a dent, but the club arm of Epilepsy Forward has the ability to create a legacy.