THERE are times when I forget I have had six surgeries, radiotherapy and am paralysed. Sometimes my mind thinks I am back in 2014 when I could ride hard for hours on end without really struggling.

I had settled in to a good week’s training when a friend asked if I wanted to ride in Reading with him and Ed Clancy – and 30 riders who were doing a special ride day with the triple Olympic champion, arguably one the best ever team pursuit riders in the world.

Of course I was not going to say no. I know life is about experiences and especially making memories with mates.

So the alarm went off at 6am followed by an hour’s drive to  have some breakfast with the guys before meeting up with the group.

It is then that the first anxious thought arrives. Should I have breakfast? With my spinal cord injury, my bowel control is not good. Last thing I want is my bowel losing control in a group ride. It’s one reason I shy away from riding in groups.

Thankfully, there were no bowel incidents but I can’t say the rest of my body was thanking me too much. The pace was punchy and there were those short hills that sting both your lungs and legs.

I haven’t ridden much in groups since paralysed and I won’t lie, it does worry me. I know I am not the rider I was and a small bump in the road can send me flying off the bike.

As Ed just span over every hill it was a strong group of riders with us, with one guy just back from one of the super sportive rides in the Dolomites.

I didn’t want to look down to see what my heart rate was doing but I knew I was maxing out. As we rode up what felt like an alpine pass, the guy next to me was chatting away.

I thought “God, I can’t talk, I am going to blow up soon,” then I looked –180 beats per minute, my garmin screen flashed.

Sixty kilometres in and my heart rate hadn’t dropped under 165 beats per minute. I wouldn’t normally let this faze me but I haven’t trained much over the last few weeks and it was hot.

It’s also impossible for me to drink or eat on the move with one arm so I was going long blocks with no fluids. Not a smart strategy but for me to just hold on to the group I needed to keep pushing the pedals.

Eighty-five kilometres and 3hours 23 minutes later I was sat in the boot of my car drinking a coke that Ed had got for me to help me just stand up.

The last 10km had been horrid, I was wiped – what is known in cycling as bonked. I felt dizzy and my body had just said “we have had enough”.

Thankfully one of the strong riders gave me a gel and I sat on his wheel.

With no real idea of how far I had to go before reaching Reading it was a real push for me with my one leg to just hang on.

Then there was hope, the British Rowing Team centre. Ah, I know where I am and I only have 10 more minutes to hold on.

With my body now empty and my mind thinking “what am I doing”, I just had to  navigate a few short hills and cars to feel the pleasure of sitting in the boot of my car drinking that coke.

Ed had hardly broke a sweat and my heart rate had not dropped under 160 for over three hours, so it is safe to say I was cooked.

It was then a long drive back into London with the reward of my sofa waiting for me.

This was a reminder of how much I love to suffer on the bike. Why, you might ask?

Well, the pain and suffering on the bike makes me feel alive compared to the pain and suffering I have felt in hospital.

Days like this make me feel like I am still an athlete and chasing my dream.