When I became dramatically and rapidly ill, starting in September 2017, I felt my life was over. And in many ways it really was. I went from having my own TV show on the now gone Bike Channel and excitedly moving to Spain to live with my BMX riding fiance, with dreams of riding and building a new life together. Instead, by December, I was in a wheelchair, unable to walk, shower or dress myself with a mystery illness, generically named as “Fibromyalgia”, whilst my fiance cooked my meals and took me to the corner of the street in the wheelchair to get me some air.

I was unable to ride or work or think. The doctors told me to take a mountain of Co-codamol a day and that there was nothing I could do. I called the official Fibromyagia charity for some support, but they basically told me “yeah, this illness is crap, poor you, it sucks”...leaving me feeling virtually suicidal. I didn't see the point of waking up in the morning, just to try to survive a really boring day full of pain, over and over again for the rest of my life.

I cut myself off from social media and was asked to send my bikes back to my sponsors. It's fair to say I was totally lost. I had lost everything, apart from the love of my family and friends. It still makes me feel emotional to think about how much they still liked me, despite the fact I was a useless, boring, crying person confined to a sofa a million miles from the wild, scatty, energetic person that I thought they loved me for. Turns out, unconditional love is just that, people can love you even when you feel you have nothing to give. That was a nice lesson. All the other lessons, however, were rubbish.

Somehow though, I didn't quite believe the doctors, or the Fibromyalgia charity that recovery doesn't exist. I refused the medication (even though I am a super-fan of Tramadol, I didn't want to get addicted and do even longer term damage), started meditation to be at ease with the pain and in the place of working, whenever I had some energy, I researched other people who said they had recovered. There are plenty out there, lots with different methods, so I started copying them, one by one.

I got so far on my own, until I could walk again and do the occasional day out. But it wasn't until a member of the cycling community got in touch with me that real recovery came into sight. I posted on Instagram to open up about the reality of what was happening with my illness and Joey Gough, a BMX hero of mine messaged me to tell me that her mum had had the same illness for 7 years. She eventually recovered from it and became a therapist in helping other people recover. I jumped at the recommendation. Gill Gough had been a nurse in a previous life and, importantly to me, understood the hole left in my life where cycling had been. Speaking to someone who gets what it means to be slightly addicted to adrenaline and the identity that I had found in belonging to a community was such a relief. Someone who knew how important it was to get to that level of wellness again.

Within in a week of working with Gill I was able to go surfing. Three months later and I am now virtually symptom-free.

It feels a bit like waking up from a coma. My brain has kind-of blocked out the trauma of those 15 months and I have all this energy and I'm like “oh hey! Let's go cycling! Oh, but I don't have a bike” or “why am I so lonely? Oh yeah, I spent a year in a new country and didn't speak to anybody other that Juan and didn't get out to make any new friends” or “Crap! Why am I so broke? That´ll be because I didn't work for a year, and spent most of it moving from room, to sofa, to tent in someone's field, to cheap rent in a desolate apartment to try to not use all of my savings.” But of course, I did use all of my savings, and some of my parents and a little bit of the bank's. Because that's what happens when you can't work but still need somewhere to live and food to eat.

So here I am, healthy, but broke with some debts, no bikes and no friends. But, BOOM, don't worry! The cycling gang will step back in and help. Let's go!

I didn't want to try to approach sponsors because you normally need a clear plan to offer, as a racer or as someone who works in the media. I'm just getting back onto my feet, I don't have a lot I'm confident enough about to offer at the moment. I just want to ride again, enjoy it and make some friends. See how it goes.

I moaned about having no bikes on instagram, having a little rant. And a rider from the Surrey Hills Dm'd me to say “I'm not a weirdo or anything, but I just have this frame and forks that I'm not using. I don't want any money for it, you can have it if you want?” HELL YEAH I want!!! I was blown away. My mum gave me a lift to collect it and it was an effort not to cry when presented with it due to his generosity and kindness...and the knowledge of what this bike would open up for me. The titanium Kingdom Hex was in my hands and I got chatting with Hope Tech about parts.

I've stayed close to Hope and their women's projects for years and was delighted that they would continue to support me to get back out there, no strings attached. Although, of course, I am now attached by undying loyalty to such a committed brand. Thank you!

But there were still some parts missing. I had some second hand bits to sell and my inability to describe them made it really hard for me to go through the process of selling them online. But once again, cyclists rock! I'd been speaking to a new bike shop in Portsmouth, Gabriel Cycles about some photos for their “wall of weird” and they asked if there was anything they could do to help. I did need some help, big time! I couldn't assemble my bike (and make no apologies for the fact I'm useless at bike mechanics) and needed help with the buying and selling of extra parts. They took the bike and within a few days delivered it to me, fully kitted out for my first day riding in the Surrey Hills. I pedalled in my favourite place for the first time in 15 months. It felt just like riding a bike!!!

For the Bike Geeks out there, let's talk about the steed itself. Having worked in cycling media for many years, I've been lucky enough to ride some of the most top-end bikes in the world, different bikes for different things and I can't deny that it was a dream experience. Some of those bikes were astounding. However, none will replace the bike that any of us have now, at this moment, that allow us to go riding RIGHT NOW. No bike is worth more than the simple ability of being able to get out and ride. Also, none have made me choke up with tears when it got presented to me. None will ever be able to mean what the bike community have made this bike mean to me.

Man, I'm still talking about emotions. I'll try to get to the nitty gritty.

It's a 27.5 which is what I have got used to. I've never ridden titanium before, so in time, I'll give more feedback. It's a pretty full-on set up, aimed more towards DH with the Boost Wheels, V4 brakes and Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres. I must admit, it felt like overkill for the Surrey Hills and it dragged a bit on the climbs (not just my creaky, unfit legs) but, it's rather pointless to try to describe this bike in the context of a location where I'd prefer to ride hardtail.

You know what? This is the most stupid bike review ever, I've ridden it once, in the non-ideal place for it...I know that it is dying to be smashed on out some proper steep, rocky terrain in Spain. I'm in love with the bike and so grateful for it. And need to take it where it deserves to be ridden.