I only ever see a loving side of Jamaica. I’ve been staying in a small, rustic B&B buried high up in the blue mountains which is a hidden gem and a place I would encourage you to visit if you ever get the chance.

I don’t want to focus on the negatives about an island I love but the reality for some here is life can be very challenging.

Most of us take for granted arriving home after a day’s work, walking through your front door and relaxing, but before my morning bike ride one day I was chatting to a guy who was staying there and he was telling me he has to walk past a group of guys each time he goes home with M16 rifles who are controlling his neighbourhood.

The front page of the paper the other day was reporting that close to 1400 people were killed last year in gun and gang-related crime.

It can’t be easy for him but this guy had an incredible energy and what caught me off guard was that he asked me about my philosophy. Anyone who follows this column will know how passionate I am about the importance of defining a world view and sticking to it. It is one of the main things that has kept me going these last few years.

He told me that his was to live every day with purpose, his purpose being to work so he can build a house and support his family. What was most inspiring is that this guy lives in a place where gangs are killing each other, in a house his dad built by hand, and his daughter had just got accepted to do her PhD at an American university.

As we finished our coffee, it was time for me to say my goodbyes and climb on to the bike to give this hill another go after my Christmas Day ride didn’t go to plan. No matter what happened on my ride today, I knew I would be lucky enough to get to go home without getting stopped by a guy with a M16 rifle.

After more than an hour of climbing, I reached the top. It had been a relentless cycle with switchback after switchback, constantly pushing on the pedals to keep the bike moving. It was certainly a long way from the wheelchair I was in this time last year.

After a few more days climbing around the Kingston area, I threw the bike in the car and headed three hours across the island to find some flatter roads. This was maybe a bit too optimistic as I found myself on a climb with my heart rate up between 165 and 180bpm for the full 90 minutes. It was safe to say I was pretty broken by the top.

The road turned pretty rough so I decided to turn back and just enjoy the descent towards the sea.

I am mostly on top of my nutrition and hydration on the bike but I ran out of water about 40 minutes from the home of my friend where I had left the car and with temperatures over 30c this was going to be a hard ride.

With the sun beating down on me at full strength, the road seemed to go on for ever after the decent ended. As I passed through all the small towns I would hear “yo white boy, keep going”. I always just assume that everyone who shouts is being friendly, and I usually shout back a hello.

By now I had gone into what I call “bonk” mode. In other words, I was in the red and so thirsty I was seriously considering drinking the water in the passing potholes. I stopped on the outskirts of this small town with my head on the bars.

But every time I stop people come over to see if I am okay, usually offering me some “herb”.

I was joined by Clifton, who had clearly been enjoying his own herbs. After a great chat I find out Clifton is 73, although he didn’t look a day over 50. Asking his secret, he said he had a lovely spot where he had no stress and lived on coconuts and yams...and his “herbs” which by now he has finished smoking.

After some tips on how to avoid the potholes on the road ahead and a fist bump it was time to leave and try to make it to the next one without drinking from the potholes.

I just kept thinking okay, not far to go now, if I can make it to the next town I can find some shade to rest for a few minutes.

As I finally made it on to the last stretch of road all I could focus on was getting to the fridge for water. The only issue was the last stretch to my friend’s house on the beach was a mile of rough gravel with sand. The gravel was perfect for my gravel bike. But then my wheels hit the sand and before I knew it I was heading to the ground.

It’s funny at this stage as your mind is back in survival mode, “I must get home”.

And after some faffing around with the paralysed side of my body I got going again. I pretty much rode right into the kitchen before collapsing with my water in front of the sea.