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Small steps to greatness

Spinning fitness class






A slightly different blog post this week but one that I hope will give pause for thought.

Life is a series of small steps

James Goldings’ mantra for life is that you can achieve anything if you break it down into small steps.

James is a true survivor. He has suffered two bouts of cancer in the past 10 years, including one particularly vicious strain that transformed him from a 14 stone, lithe, athletic man into a six stone, emaciated body.

“I could barely lift my head up off the pillow”, he says. “I now use the strapline ‘one step at a time‘ with the public speaking that I do, because actually my recovery started with me wiggling my toes, then my ankles, then my knees. There I was eating 6,000 calories a day, but I barely had the energy to lift an arm. Slowly I put on weight and I stood up for ten seconds before almost blacking out. Basically, I had to relearn how to walk. It was a long, painstaking recovery.”

After taking those small steps towards learning how to walk again, James began to search for some meaning to his life as a survivor. And then he discovered cycling.

Cycling offers route out of the dark places

The first few bicycle outings were no more than wobbling excursion down the road. This was a man who had been unable to move and the doctors had doubted he would live, let alone be an active man again.

Eventually he got up the strength to start cycling serious distances and he started to look for challenges. These challenges got longer and more arduous until he was entering endurance events and races.

“Cycling helps me cope with the dark places I inevitably find myself in. Cycling really is everything to me”, says James as he explains why he constantly seeks out new challenges.

By far the biggest challenge took him to the USA where he and a group of fellow endurance cyclists were undertaking the cross-America route. Unlucky doesn’t even cover it as James was struck by a truck during the cycle ride. He was taken back to the UK with a broken elbow, broken ribs and a chunk of skin missing from his leg. Needless to say, he returned and did the whole trip later.

A second bout of cancer would probably have finished most people off but James also recovered from that. He is now  back on his bike and doing more challenges. He completed the seven day cycling world record. This involves cycling 250 miles a day, for seven consecutive days. His next challenge is to cycle from California to Miami. Then he says, he is going to relax.

A story for everybody

The reason for telling James’ story on this forum is because so much of what he says is relatable to us all. Sport and physical activity have helped James return to full health. Crucially, it has also boosted his self-confidence and helped him overcome deep depressive moments.

Cycling has provided friends, a social life and a feeling of belonging. Every day, he says, he looks at taking small steps to achieving new heights. “People are consumed by ‘to-do’ lists,” he says. “But rather than focusing on what you haven’t achieved on your list, think of all the amazing things you have done.”

“What I have learnt through cycling is that no matter what challenge you set yourself, if you break it down into small steps you will get there.”