Running on fumes

Apologies for anyone following the blog; I am rather burned out at the moment.

Lockdown, depression, maintaining a relationship, a cat and partner who have both been unwell, coupled with the unpredictably of the world at the moment and the fact that I live and work within an autistic field. It’s been essential to take a step back a little.

Mental health issues often link to people on the spectrum, many argue that they are co-existing but there is little clinically to support that it’s coexisting for everyone. For me, I’m taking a little time to get myself to a better place.

I have some kit reviews to do, in the coming weeks, including SRAM excellent XX1 wireless shifting.

Take care and I will be back soon.

Ambassador stuff – Sundried

I’ve always been choosy about any involvements I have, especially on a corporate or professional basis. In days of yore, when I was running very successful club nights I turned down Big Brother and other reality TV shows, because of a previous hideous TV experience. Being offered the potential of high earnings from selling my soul just doesn’t appeal to me.

For this reason, any ties I form, need to be ethically and environmentally sound and be items that I’m happy to recommend to others on the basis that I use their products and find them to be worth the investment.

With this in mind, Sundried activewear features the most advanced technology on the planet, including anti-odour, UV protection, and temperature control, all created ethically and sustainably and sold at a fair price; even better is that by using the link you will receive a 50% discount on what where already great prices.

Injury and frustrations

OK, now no one likes being injured. However, for the neuro-diverse, having changes to ones routine throw all sorts of issues into the mix. This coupled with lockdown (2.0) and the onset of winter all add to frustration.

Normally, I function reasonably well, within my routine, I go to work, my employers try to bunch my shifts into blocks, which has the downside of being exhausting, but the positive aspect is that, generally I get blocks of ‘rest days’ and days off; which allows me time to do the things I enjoy. I’m used to this routine and think little of the 5am alarm and spending 36 hours straight at work.

Injury, however, means that I am at home, which is nice but limited on what I can actually do for fun (or Mark 2 fun). I am endeavouring to use the turbo trainer, but this needs to work around my partner’s work schedule, which sadly eats into the time we normally would have together.

Turbo training, for those not in the know, involves a weighted or magnetic flywheel, adding resistance to a bike’s drive wheel to simulate an actual surface, thereby allowing you to ride whilst indoors and monitor metrics. My obsessive traits and competitive drive mean that I am obsessed with metrics.

So interruption to an autistic person’s routine cause massive frustration. In people with higher personal needs, this can lead to complete overload and thereby meltdowns. For me, I tend to go the other way, my frustration, combined with depression tends to lead to shutdown, where I simply retreat into myself and engage with others far less or not at all.

Turning to the injury itself, I’m now five weeks in, largely managing inside the flat without a sling and I have started doing gentle exercises, rotation and elevation are sore and I wake up in pain in the mornings. That said, it is better than it was and I have a further hospital appointment next week. Currently I intend to be back at work in another couple of weeks and look forward to returning to routine, whatever that may be.

In the meantime, I have picked up a couple of ambassadorships, Torq Energy and Sundried Clothing. Both of which I will discuss further in other posts.

Anyway, in these uncertain times, we all crave certainty and there is little of it. Even NTs are struggling with the unpredictability of how the world is changing under Covid and in global attempts to control the spread of the pandemic. So, let’s try and be nice towards each other.

Take care, stay well and remember to wash your damn hands and wear a face covering.

Eastgate 8 Race

So on Friday, I went to Leeds and picked up the hire car. Then loaded everything (almost) into the back and drove to County Durham.

Camping on site had been cancelled but frankly camping in the windswept Pennines in October before racing is neither fun nor conducive to getting adequate rest.

The organisers Cold Brew had done a brilliant job in difficult circumstances; the rave had initially been set for Hamsterly Forest in May, then lockdown happened and various other factors changed venue and arrangements were offered to allow us all to still race and socially distance.

Now, it should be noted that for most of the week, the weather was dire. The course was set on rural farming land on an escarpment with 1100 feet of climbing per lap. So already a tough ask for an 8 hour race.

Weather on the day was utterly filthy, a large consideration was taken on simply what to wear.

A wet a slippery course rapidly became more and more slippery and had me ruing not investing in mud tyres, rather than my usual go to of Schwalbe Rocket Ron and Racing Ralph.

The Stages Power crank helped me to keep a nice rhythm, cadence and power whilst not pushing into the red too much. Generally maintaining power zone 3 and 4. My legs felt great throughout the race. Everythjng else hurt!

OK here’s where it went wrong. On the second lap, I had my first crash, simply losing traction on a fast descent and going over the bars. I mentioned this at the feed station but carried on.

Fatigue set in and by the seventh lap, having crashed a couple more times, I couldn’t get gels out of Jersey pocket without extreme pain. It was over halfway in and time get solid food anyway. At this point, I spoke to the first aid staff and with a great deal of logistics required, I, my partner and our hire car and gear were all taken to Durham A&E.

The result of X-Rays is still inconclusive, I am waiting on a consultation with a consultant but it is suspected that I have broken the ulner and separated or cracked the shoulder/collarbone.

Race results: 8th in my class, despite only riding for 4 and a half hours. 21st overall. For my first endurance race and dropping out due to injury, combined with wholly disgusting weather conditions, I consider this a great success.

Racing

Tomorrow marks the only MTB race of the season for me; Coldbrew Events Eastgate 8.

A whole bunch of gear

My mental and physical form seem to be good. I am very much looking forward to racing, even though it is the first time that I will be racing for 8 hours. Thankfully now I’m using a Stages Cycling power meter, not burning all of my matches to quickly can be avoided.

My diet is good, although I am starting to find beetroot rather tedious.

I will update further next week.

Masks

The National Autistic Society offer an exemption card for those who’s autism means that wearing a mask creates a sensory issue.

I wear one at work when dealing with personal care for clients and I took to wearing one before it was recommended by the U.K. government, mainly because I understand aerosol based germ transmission and have a rudimentary knowledge of biology. I see keepkng possible germs to myself as considering those I come into contact with, I haven’t been able to work from home and my job is very much based in the community.

Personally, wearing a mask allows me some unforeseen freedoms. I often mutter and ‘think allowed’ and plan much of my routine in this way. Doing so behind a mask allows this to be hidden and draws a lot less attention.

It also means that I don’t have to smile aimlessly at people. If I’m reallt happy, it shows eegardless of wearing a mask and on a day to day basis, it helps to camouflage when there’s nothing really wrong but I’m also not wandering around in a state of ecstatic bliss either.

A further benefit for myself is that the mask, whilst hot and sometimes inconvenient, the mask helps to reduce transport fumes, which make me want to claw my skin off.

Yes, it can be hot and uncomfortable, but we’re all in this together and from my own experience, and everyone on the spectrum is different, there are silver linings within the cloud.

In this uncertain time, we have no assurance that a cure will be fast, or efficient so why not try to make it fun.

Co-existing conditions

I admit that I have been fearfully lax in the last couple of months in regards this blog. Like many, the stress of lockdown has taken a toll. Everything has become a lot more unpredictable and us on the spectrum like predictably.

Racing is non-existent at the moment and the only race left in the season, may or may not happen: it has changed venue at the very least.

Work has been stressful and the lockdown has added further challenges to the role. Until recently, I had stopped taken medication for these, having appeared to have ‘got  a handle on them’. A couple of months back I had a massive mental crash. I won’t go into details and I can only liken the crash to a pressure kettle, when the pressure inside grows too strong, the cracks begin to show and unless the pressure is removed, or decreased, eventually there is a explosion.

These things might equally lead to a meltdown, but the effects are a lot more long-term, but at least can be subject to treatment. The world is a scary place and at the moment, more unpredictable and therefore scarier and placing additional demands upon us all. Hence, I think this is why depression and anxiety are frequently co-existing. We struggle with aspects of commication and interaction with others, after all. Those working from home may become increasingly isolated and insular and that is a cause for concern as practicing social skills is part of our neuroplasticity.

I think that it is vital, for both NT and ND worlds to remember that it is perfectly alright to not be alright. Ask for help, seek opinion, if you need to seek advocacy or mediation. Whilst budgets in the U.K. are cut to the bone by austerity and misappropriation, the charity sector can provide help.

Anyway, stay safe and well. Until the next time.

Worn out or wearing out?

Working hard, training hard. Stressed about Covid-19, lockdown measures being eased: this is current state of play.

Work is demanding, this involves very long shifts in which you never switch off really, even when you’re technically having a quiet moment (literally, I am drafting this whilst having a cup of coffee, with one ear and eye keeping an eye on the client). Again, I expect the job to be demanding.

Training is demanding, but seven weeks away from an eight hour cross-country race, I would hope so. The rewards appear to be developing.

We’re all worried about Covid and the easing of lockdown, or at least we should be. From my own perspective, the unpredictability of the situation, plays hell with my autism; we need routine and order and the world is anything but predictable or organised.

Having to constantly adapt or prepare to adapt is, frankly, exhausting. Not least because I spend a lot of my time having to ease this stress for people who need far more support and assistance than I. I seem to be struggling for writing motivation at the moment, suspecting a slight burnout, so please bare with me. I am intending to post some kit reviews over the coming weeks.

Preparing for the unexpected

So far, I’m still training for races which may or may not be occurring.

I have the weekend off for the August bank holiday, which allows me to compete in the Torq in Your Sleep 6 hour race.

That said, it seems that some non-bike races in September are cancelled this year, including The Great North Run; an event that I have always had an inclination to do. Maybe next year. Goals are vital to me and next year there is quite a lot that I want to do.

In the meantime, it’s important to remain positive, wash your hands (a lot) and keep healthy.

Anyone struggling with mood and keep on technology, have a look at the HeadsUp app, I find it helpful to make a note of my physical, mental and emotional moods on a daily basis.