Be that out stretched hand to help others.....

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

Now more than ever in our life times should this statement be coming forward in people's thoughts.

We've all seen the vast numbers of people that have died on the TV and media. Sadly some are becoming detached from statistics and it's just numbers.

This truly saddens me, for as a society we are becoming even more isolated in certain areas of life.

Lockdown should and has brought back a sense of community for some though so that's a good thing. Chatting to neighbours over the fence and checking in on each other.

Basic human instincts to help others in a time of need.

The reality sadly to others unfortunately, is that they are caring for the patients, watching and seeing them pass. High numbers such as these being banded about are similar to filling a football stadium or concert. Maybe I've seen enough. Maybe unless you've actually lift a dead body it still isn't quite a reality. It's not what I would want my kids to do or my friends and family, and I wish not to do it ever again.


Saturated is a good word.

How many do you need to become saturated?

We are all different with different tolerance levels, but trust me these levels can change.

We need to be aware so we can look after ourselves too.


Why write this now?

I have challenged myself to cycling some of the Cols here in the French Pyrenees, as it's only 45 minutes away from our home.

Something I would not have been able to do maybe 5 years ago, where I was stressed and absorbing all the toxins from my service career. Being on steroids for 3 years for sinus problems, that led to me having regular nose bleeds and then finally having them quarterised.

Yey, that was a pleasant experience lol

So leaving as soon as I could from the service to hopefully have a healthier lifestyle was always the plan. Hardly drank much alcohol anyway, and eating healthier, but the biggest change is the reduction of sleepless nights and broken sleep. The body needs time to recover to perform correctly. You can't run a car on empty or on the wrong fuel.

So yesterday's challenge was to attempt the 11km climb from Arreau to the Col de Aspin.

(I will let you look it up if you want to!)

Starting early as it was going to be incredibly hot of 40 degrees by the afternoon, (strange weather,) but after last years attempt I was forced to stop at the 5km from the summit as chest was bursting. Had to wait to regain the dizzy head feeling before continuing on upwards.

So I completed it, but for me I wanted to do it without stopping.

The mental strength is what decides the outcome on most things.

Picture a fire situation, you're being beaten back by the intense heat, remember you cook a chicken at 250 degrees. Well rooms with high fire loading can be reaching temps of 600 at waist height very easily, and 900 plus at ceiling levels. You take a knee just for a second and both you and your mate hold your breathe for a few seconds, listening for a faint call or moan or cry for help.

The heat is screaming at you to withdraw, but you know you are the only hope for the person just down the corridoor in the next room, so your body is motivated by your thoughts and decisions. You push on and pulse the water up into the smoke, cooling the super heated gasses, grab the person and wrap them in a duvet for protection or just grab and go. Split decisions and huge steps forward, calculated risks. We are doing these all the time.


So my goal was to get past the stopping breather point, which is perfectly in a bit of shade and all ahead you can see a long km straight and then twists and inclines that just go on and up for another 5 km. So you can see your brain and body is saying stop here you fool!! And with so many obstacles it's easy to give in. But that's still ok, as long as you're making progress.


Not today, I had to do what I set out to do. Stubborn at times is a good thing too.

But my instincts are still there, help others in need, whilst continuing on upwards , where I had passed others who had just hit a wall so to speak, say Bonjour, ca va? (Hello, you ok? ) You just make sure everyone is ok. So pleased they said they were fine, as I wanted to achieve my goal. But the long straight in the now increased heat was taking it's toll. It was here I noticed a cyclist steadily catching me.

As he passed we exchanged the Bonjour pleasantries and he said in his hardly blowing voice with a beaming smile, obviously just out for a jolly for him, ( he was wearing a Lannemezan team shirt).......... "continuez, le sommet est proche," (keep going, summit is close.)

I understood, 'the continue and summit' bit, but it was enough to give me that little boost.


It was that out stretched hand to help others. It comes in many forms, but it was what I needed at that moment in time to push on and complete the challenge.


We saw each other again at the summit under the obligatory sign for photos. He beamed and congratulated me for keeping going. Some was lost in translation lol, but we both got the gist of our conversation. He did his recorded times, asked me mine, which was 1 hour 15 minutes. Congratulated me again, said 'bon journee et au revoir', (have a good day and goodbye,) and went off back down, and I'm guessing back towards Lannemezan, which is a fair distance away, especially in the heat. It reached 40 in the shade late afternoon!!


So the reason for writing this, is to highlight that we all need help and encouragement from time to time. Every one of us, all have our own mountains to climb, physical or mental challenges.

Recognise when you need to have a break, but also learn to push through and achieve more than you could imagine.


I certainly never expected to cycle up these Tour de France routes.

They are going up faster than I can ride on the flat roads lol. Huge respect, but likewise I have huge respect too, to so many people of all ages, shapes and sizes with the drive and ambition to push themselves to achieve.

The mountain is just an obstacle.

Most of it is in the mind, everyone knows what it takes to climb these so everyone is encouraging.

For me I need space and head space to deal with things sometimes.


Mental Health needs to be spoken about and recognised, so keep encouraging each other because just a few words or a smile, even a listening ear can make a huge difference.


Onwards and upwards, that's one big one ticked off the list...........

..............Les Pyrenees c'est tres grand.........more climbs and challenges to follow.

Abientot, (see you soon,) keep safe