Cycling for recovery

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Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 13.55.29The ultimate challenge

John Lowes takes us with him on a very personal journey

Today I walked two miles, swam one mile, cycled 20 miles and ran two miles. I’m doing the same again tomorrow, then the next day and the next. One hundred miles in four days – more than I’ve ever done before and far more than I ever thought possible of myself.

There were no crowds, no one to cheer me on, no prize, no round of applause at the end. Today was quiet, lonely, and uneventful, my only company being the faces in the shared swimming lanes that regarded me with indifference as they didn’t know what I was doing or why.

About 20 years ago I was a drug user. Not the weekend, smiley, go back to work on a Monday kind, but the kind that the newspapers warn you to stay away from. The kind that you don’t want living at the end of your street. The kind you hope beyond all hopes your sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers and fathers never turn out to be. But some of us do turn out to be just that, not out of active choice, but rather a succession of bad choices that get us relentlessly to that bitter end.

We don’t like it there, but for a time we push everything away, even help, until our only friend is the drug or the drink that takes us into its daily world of oblivion and lets us forget; forget who we are, forget who we could be, forget what we’ve lost, forget what we’ve chased away and run away from, just to be alone.

Today wasn’t about recognition. It was about change, it was about second chances… third, fourth, fifth, six chances. Today was about the people who, given the right opportunities at the right time, can make a real difference to their lives and to the lives of those who love them.

Today and the next three days I run, cycle, swim and walk in support of NewLink Wales’ MILE project, which helps people move away from the misery of problematic drug and alcohol use and gives them the skills, tools, and more importantly the self-belief to make the changes necessary to start living a positive and meaningful life.

I hope my four days of doing this will highlight the positive side of substance misuse services and promote an understanding among the wider public that people can, and do, change.

I was given my chances, I was given my opportunities, and eventually I was able to make them work for me. If I was written off I know I would have been dead years ago, but instead I’m now doing my bit to help support others, to create chances like they were once created for me.

John Lowes, NewLink Wales business development officer

If you would like to do a mile for MILE (not 100 – one will do nicely!) and help raise some much-needed funds for the project, please get in touch: fundraising@newlinkwales.org.uk