I have decided that it is time to put idonotdespair.com into the deep freeze. Hopefully something I can return to in the future, because the blog has been an important personal project that has given me eight years of reflection and a personal space to share my ad hoc thoughts on cycling, travel, life in Belgium, friendship, food and just about anything else that caught my eye.
But my general trend has been to post less and less, especially in 2019 where I was starting a new job and a new international association. And now of course there is confinement. I may have ridden many kilometres where I live, but I haven’t actually been more than 25km from home since the beginning of February. There is no longer that moment when I get on a train or plane after some stimulating experience or exciting cycle tour and think “I need to blog about this”. Instead I step away from the electronics at the end of the day and say “I need to get out of here” to give my mind a rest from the intensity.
What energy I have for writing and communication has gone into the daily life of Cycling Industries Europe, and that has been intense. In the first six months of confinement I counted about 300 meetings, webinars, presentations and speeches conducted from my “nerve centre” in our converted garage, and that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
The blog itself needs a full updating, not to mention going back and checking all those odd links and connections that need to be maintained, but I don’t have the capacity to do that now. I have decided that what I am doing now is “putting the blog in the freezer” because I can imagine a retirement project or some time similar when I can go back to it and give it the attention it deserves.
I do it reluctantly, but I do it with thanks.
The phrase “I do not despair” is more than a repetition of a clever line from H. G. Wells. It has always been a personal manifesto for how I feel about many things in life, but especially cycling. I wanted to share uplifting moments, amazing stories and wonderful people that I have been honoured and proud to have met because I was lucky enough to land a career in cycling over 20 years ago.
When I left CTC to join the staff of the European Cyclists’ Federation in 2012 I needed refreshing after 14 years in the same role. I also found the final couple of years more challenging as we experienced new forms of social media that could at times get quite personal. Today we know it better and the coping mechanisms are more established, but the first exposure was a shock and I struggled with it at lot. Cyclists are an argumentative lot, I find I can always raise a knowing smile from anyone who knows cycling associations with the adage “Two cyclists means at least three opinions, and four associations to argue about the three opinions.”
Back then two wise friends on the CTC Board separately gave me almost the same advice. “Don’t take it personally” they said “People who know you understand your values and your passion for cycling. Hang on to what you believe and find ways to let it come out.”
The step across the channel to Belgium gave me the clean break I needed, and idonotdespair.com was part of that change, kick-started because my wonderful son just presented me with the part-built site as a fait-accompli for Christmas 2011 and effectively told me to stop talking about the idea and get on with it.
So thank you. Thanks to my readers, followers, commenters and sharers, especially anyone who was there in 2012 when I was clumsily finding my way into this space. Your support and feedback have been amazing and the blog became a valuable outlet and a mental release. Thanks to all my family, who somewhat unkindly tell me that they read the blog to find out where I am, but are actually always really nice about it, even if I write about them.
And above all else thank you to anyone who has been in a story. “When I see a friend, colleague, companion, family member, group, club or just a person on a street on a bicycle I do not despair for the future of the human race.”
You made this possible.
I would still like to inspired by what you do!