My Lockdown “Travels”
By Jacqueline Thomas – Bulkington WI

When lockdown was announced in March, I genuinely thought I’d be able to cope. I’m a 54 year old, overweight Asthma sufferer who was born with Cerebral Palsy and was content to “be inside for a while”. What I hadn’t considered was the emotional impact of being away from my friends and loved ones.

I was lucky enough to be shielding with my partner, David and I was reasonably tech-savvy, so already had an “online” life. Our children were all working and had their own lives, so I assumed we’d all be ok and back together in a few months.

What I hadn’t realised was how much I’d miss our active life. David and I are both Committee Members – I’m Bulkington WI Registrar and he’s Chairman of Warwickshire Vintage Motorcycle Club. We no longer had our respective responsibilities during Club nights, we couldn’t take our campervan on adventures, go to the theatre or meet up with friends – all things we’d loved to do before lockdown. “Clap For Carers” nights reduced me to tears as the Covid daily death toll began to rise and I put on lots of weight as a way of coping.

A disabled friend of mine could see I was struggling emotionally and suggested I start “Challenge Cycling”. I already had a Medimotion Cycle to help keep my body mobile and I was used to seeing my friend post his virtual cycle challenges on social media. At first, I laughed but then The Trussell Trust asked for participants in their Step In September Challenge to raise money for food banks. My mum had received food boxes during lockdown and I wanted to give something back to our local food bank as a way of saying thank you.

I signed up to virtually cycle from Glasgow to John O’Groats throughout September – 280 miles meant I had to do around 10 miles a day. It was hard work at first, but then my friends and family started to sponsor me, and I felt inspired to keep going. For the first time since March, I felt as if I had a purpose and it was wonderful. Getting my completion medal was a great day for me! Raising £380 for The Trussell Trust was even better.

After that, I even entered a Santa 5km cycle for Air Ambulance just for me in December.

Since then, I’ve joined an group called “My Virtual Mission”. Their App allows me to choose cycle routes from around the world, from my living room. At the moment, I’m doing the Camino de Santiago virtual challenge AND the Lands End to John O’Groats challenge. One added bonus of all this cycling is that my weight is also coming down. My mood has lifted, I’m slimmer, I’ve raised money for worthwhile causes and life feels less lonely than it did back in March.

I don’t know what 2021 will bring but I’ll definitely be cycling my way through all the challenges that may arise.