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For Whom the Bell Tolls

I’ve never been particularly egoistic. I’ve always tried to see the bigger picture. In an ideal world if everyone gave then everyone would probably receive … but ideal worlds often only exist in TV commercials or IKEA catalogues.

27th of April. Start of our first ever Fenix training camp in Norrköping. 3 days of group-riding mixed with a bit of rain, a bit of sun, and  for one unfortunate sir, a lot of irritatingly persistant punctures!
For my part it was a day filled with sorrow. As 40 of the 50 cyclists signed up for the weekend had gathered on this Friday afternoon my mind was facing London.

Dad

Dad

The news I received that morning was that my biggest hero and influence in life had passed away. It was something I was expecting this year, but all the same, the news that Dad was gone was hard. From the title of this blogg you may wonder “Why is he putting up a picture of Hemingway?”
I’ll give you that. Only it’s not Hemingway; That’s dad.

In his prime a larger than life character with the presense of a Lion, the stature of a Gladiator and a heart of pure gold. He got me into cycling and thankfully I stayed.

The 150km bike ride of Halvvättern this year was great. Team Fenix looked at getting around in 5hrs30mins and did 5:25. Not a Sub-group, our aim was to maintain an average speed and hold it. If we had experienced a few punctures our time would have been a bit longer, but time is not key, the riding is key.
On the Monday after Halvvättern I cycled Göta Canal to Vadstena just spinning the legs.

Since Halfvättern I’ve totally taken sugar,  flour, milk and dairy products in general out of my diet. 
I have spent this last year at the gym building up my body for what may come, hoping I will never have to meet the fight, but ready for it if it came looking for me. And eventually … it came looking!

Tuesday June 12th, it’s morning  and I received the news that was as unexpected as it was raw:
Liver cancer!
After hanging up I fell into a lull. The cancer from 2002/3 was way in the past. Last years return of colon cancer was dealt with swiftly, but those little buggers seemed to have sent out a few cells and settled elsewhere. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought:
“You’ve prepared yourself well, now all we can do is go out and do battle!”

Colon cancer always felt manageable in my mind, Liver Cancer is a whole new ball game. After a few gutteral shouts and screams from my bike room that may have prompted neighbours to call the police, I decided a bike ride was needed to clear my head. Well, Smashing my face head-on into a moped at 30km/h is one way to clear your head. The front forks on my alumnium Cross were demolished and one broken nose later and an arm that felt like it was hanging off my shoulder, I was sent home from hospital wondering “WTF next?”.

Bike wreck

Bike wreck

Next was Vätternrundan. 300kms in one hit on the bike. Arriving in Motala and meeting the group, they were confronted with Gazzah and his broken nose. Words like “What a fighter”, “You’re mad!” and “WTF!” were flying around my ears in a constant barrage from heads shaking with smiling faces and laughs of disbelief.
My own thoughts were “A broken nose is the least of my problems.”

VR Fenix

VR Fenix

And as we headed out of Motala,  me on Painkillers and an uncertain future; for the next 11 hours I was gonna push cancer to one side and  focus on the job at hand. My shoulder did it’s best to keep my mind focused. No matter what position I held, the bloody thing just kept aching and throbbing. Painkillers did little or nothing to alleviate the pain … but all the time, in the back of my mind I knew; this is the least of my problems and quitting ain’t an option, cause it’s gonna feel the same no matter where I am. So feeling it on the bike was the best possible solution.

Kudos to the group. They kept it together so well, despite the odd irritated comment from me “I blame the pain”. A couple of these guys and girls would not be hard pushed to ride 2 hours quicker, and although a couple of them were chomping at the bit to do so they put their ego to one side and rode for the group. In my mind – Brilliant. A happy 10:45 ride.
2 weeks later, the shoulder is still bugging me. I guess that’s gonna take a while.

I’m booked into Sahlgrenska for an operation in the first half of July.
This years cycling stopped at about 5000kms. A year that has seen me saddle up with some great friends & fellow riders and ride Box hill, Leith Hill, Italy with Glenn Magnusson, Italy with Cykeltours, London with my sister and brother-in-law, the plains of Östergötland … and everyone of my rides with dad. That legend. That focal-point whose eyes would always measure me and tell me to do what ever I put my mind to.

Dad!  We’re going to war! My sisters are  with me, as are my 5 girls.
They’ve all got your genes so I couldn’t ask for a better army to support me.
Let’s go to war, wish us well!

I came, I saw, I biked

Gary Fleming: Currently a 54year old father of five girls living in Sweden who loves nothing more than to get out on the road and pedal.

You are cordially invited to join me at this blogg where I will re-tell the stories, experiences and history of my own battles with my trusty carbon steed plus reporting on current topics, training rides and camps, cycling in other parts of the world and finally what you may or may not have thought about; what you may need to make your Vätternrundan an event to remember.

Now a Veteran with 26 completed Vätternrundans in my water bottles I will be in Motala on June 9th for Halvvättern and again on June 15th. I have only one motto when it comes to cycling. ”My destination is not my goal, the road is my goal” Hopefully we will meet on the road