I am extremely sad to say I won’t be taking part in the C2C Challenge next month.

The plan was to take on the 140-mile, two day ride along one of the most challenging routes in the UK.

The deal was, I do the ride and you donate 10 minutes of your time to help me raise awareness about two very important issues – ME/CFS and the role of carers in the UK.

There is a certain irony that both these issues are behind my decision to abandon the challenge.

The simple truth is I have been finding it increasingly difficult to perform my juggling act of being Rachel’s carer, as well as her husband and friend, home-maker, gardener, shopper, cleaner, bread winner and C2C challenger.

Something was about to drop with an almighty clang and I know exactly where my priorities lie – they begin and end with Rachel.


So, as certain people are fond of saying, it really was a no-brainer.

The one to drop is the bike ride.

Rachel and I are still adjusting to the fact that I now go out to work every day, rather than set up office on our sofa. Why I thought it would be easy to make it any easy transition in just six months when it has taken us the best part of three years to get used to me being her carer is anyone’s guess?

Although I have seen an improvement in Rachel’s health compared to say 18 months ago, she still needs to rely heavily on me. And in the last few months the very slow progress she had been making has stalled, possibly because I have not been at home as often as before.

I still need to go out to work. But I need to devote more time to being Rachel’s carer…no, that’s not strictly true. I need to devote more time to being Rachel’s husband, friend and lover.

As much as I’ve enjoyed every turn of the wheels on my training rides, some things are and always will be far more important.

There are some alternatives I’m currently taking a look at, which could mean my attempt to encourage people to donate time rather than money has not been completely wasted.

There are a few one-day rides later in the year, which wouldn’t require the level of intense training the C2C Challenge does. They range from 50 to 100 miles and I’ll be talking it through with Rachel over the weekend to decide whether it is realistic for me to consider any of these one-day rides.

I don’t want the generosity of anyone who has pledged time to be wasted.

The fact is there is still a pressing need to raise awareness of these two issues that are so close to my own heart and so I’m determined to do something to help in any way I can.

So, watch this space.

I’m reminded of something Rachel’s GP said shortly after she was diagnosed with ME/CFS. Rachel was experiencing various health problems and the GP could offer little in the way of treatment, but plenty of sympathy.

“Its shit, isn’t it?” was how the GP summed up Rachel’s illness.

Yeah, it is.

And so is this.

So to everyone who has pledged support, sent messages of encouragement and generally put a smile on my face with their kind words, I can only offer a sincere apology for not completing the original challenge.

And I only have two heartfelt words left to say – thank you.


16 responses »

  1. Rosemary says:

    Morning Paul,

    Your friends here, who know Rachel and yourself, will be able to personalise their message of support more than I can but I still want to add mine too.

    Juggling everything is extremely hard and it can take a while before we realise just how much it affects us.

    Hoping Rachel improves soon,thinking of you both,and my pledge to help still stands whenever you decide its needed.

    “Nothing is so strong as gentleness
    Nothing is so gentle as real strength”

    Watch this if you get time….says it all really.


  2. Rosemary says:

    Meant to add if you use windows media to reduce window,there is a video that plays behind it.

  3. It’s shit isn’t it?

    I am incredibly proud of you.

    Feeling kind of sad and kind of guilty but trying to focus on the positives.

  4. Rosemary says:

    Morning Rachel,

    Try not to feel guilty.None of this is of your making.You did not choose to be ill.Dare I ask if the sadness is for yourself or due to Paul changing his plans? or maybe for the both of you.

    You can be proud of each other Rachel,for the love you share and also the committment to each other.With this alone, you are both far richer than many other couples.

    • Sad that my illness and debility makes so many things not possible and now has derailed Paul’s C2C plan.

      Paul has talked about how his bike is symbolic of the things we used to do together and the things we (I) can no longer do. Now his not being able to complete the training and the C2C challenge seems symbolic of the compromises and loss that chronic illness like mine brings to so many lives.

      I like what you said about strength.

      Sometimes it’s much more difficult to say no, to not do things and to smile, than to carry on regardless.

      • Rosemary says:

        As someone who like Paul has had to change plans at a minutes notice I understand how disappointed he must be Rachel.However,that disappointment would be nothing to the guilt he would have felt had he taken part in the ride and you had taken more ill.

        Everything is about balance and also something else, which reading both your posts shows me that you already have, and for once I am not on about the Love you share.

        It is Trust. With that it gives you the openess to say how you feel.

        I hope when tomorrow comes that you feel better inside.That your sadness and guilt have gone.

        x x x

  5. Mikki says:

    Life is, as they say, a bitch. But. y’know, reading the list of things that you DO manage to fit in makes it clear that you’re already a bit of a superhero and Rachel is a lucky lady just as you’re a lucky man!

    Superheroes do not need to do a lot of cycling to prove the point. Their adoring public already know the truth….

  6. Paul Groves says:

    Thanks everyone.

    Mikki: It has been known for me to wear my pants outside my trousers, but I’m not sure any of this makes me a superhero.

  7. Rosemary says:

    “””Mikki: It has been known for me to wear my pants outside my trousers, but I’m not sure any of this makes me a superhero””””

    Rachel, I hope you will provide photographic evidence to support Pauls’ statement…lol.

  8. theaardvark says:

    As you say, it’s a no brainer. I think, to a large degree, you’ve acheived what you set out to do regardless of whether you attempt the challenge itself. You’ve raised awareness& I’m sure I speak for others when I say I won’t withdraw my commitment of time.

  9. Rosemary says:

    Use your womanly wiles 😛

    I cant stop chuckling Rachel,at the mental image of you trying to get the best light and angle ,whilst Paul stands there with his pants on over his trousers.

  10. WackyLisa says:

    As I read this I thought ‘I hope Rachel doesn’t feel guilty’. Then again, I feel guilty when my caregiver/husband puts off something he wants to do because he’s too worried about me to leave me alone or because he’s gotten sick overdoing it.
    I’m glad plans haven’t been changed because Rachel’s getting worse. Getting to spend more time as a couple sounds precious.
    If anything, this seems to further highlight the need for respite care.

  11. Bryony says:

    Just read about this (only just catching up on this morning’s Tweet’s due to lack of time!) – some irony there!

    On a personal note, I know exactly how you feel about prioritising time etc to make sure you get the best out of actually living the important bits of life. I have come to the realisation (extremely slowly) over the last few months that I do too much and so have been parting ways with all my committees and projects to spend more time with myself (sounds weird? Isn’t!) After the TRAT fundraising is over, I’ve promised myself at least a year off from saying ‘yes’ to anything, unless it’s little ad hoc things like RTing tweets from you raising awareness etc, or stepping in to do the washing up at events rather than actually organising them. I was getting so stressed and and anxious that I wasn’t able to enjoy any time off (getting physically ill during posh meals was the main symptom, dammit!) and I’m on the waiting list for some counselling for stress which will hopefully be helpful too.

    I plan to spend more time with my bicycle – and hopefully Iain and I will do a lot more stuff together, especially if I can train to keep up with him!

    So I completely understand! I hope you can find a cycling event which works for you, and keep riding your bike in the meantime.

    With regard to Rachel and you riding bikes together again, I think I read in the latest CTC magazine about a company who do accessible bikes, so there may very well be a bike out there which you can ride together, perhaps a trike type thing with Rachel on the front so you can whisper sweet nothings in her ear as you pedal? I’m sure I also saw a pic of a half upright, half recumbent tandem which looked cool! Maybe you could do a sponsored ride to raise the money to have one built to your specifications? I’ll see if I can find the details for you – feel free to remind me by Tweet in the evenings while I’m at home to refer to the mag!

  12. Ursula says:

    Oh, Paul, dear man. I so agree with theaardvark (what a bastard of a name when trying to remember how to spell it – tomorrow I’ll practice his first name).

    Cycle for fun, for joy, to let off steam, whatever, round the block – who cares whether you complete some random bike ride. The main thing is that you do care and, most and foremost, that you put creative Rachel first. No one who has pledged their time will retract on their promise just because you don’t push the pedal for so many miles at a given time.

    As an aside, and I have said it before, I think your idea, the concept of giving time instead of money ,is genius. You should patent it. Though, admittedly, I have already mentioned it to a couple of people on the European mainland who work in the caring sector.


  13. cinderkeys says:

    I’m sorry, Paul. No brainer or not, it’s sad that there had to be a choice.

    Here’s the thing that gets me. Very few people know about ME, which is why your time-not-money idea is so good. There are two groups of people who have the knowledge and motivation to educate others about the real nature of the disease: sufferers and caregivers. The sufferers are generally too sick to do a whole lot of advocacy, and the caregivers are too busy.

    I don’t know what the answer is.

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