WEEK one out on my own has gone well. While it was a huge step for me to leave the GB cycling programme, I have already signed a three-year deal with Nike. They are going to support me in making the World Championships in Glasgow 2023, all my competitions leading up to them, and all the way to the Olympics in Paris 2024 if continue all the way there.

The financial support they are giving me will cover my bikes, my coach and obviously my kit as well. I’m speaking to a coach soon, so hopefully that will be sorted, while I’m waiting for a track bike to arrive too. All of this is great. I have started back on both the turbo and in the gym, so you could say that everything is moving in the right direction. All I need to do is stay healthy.

It isn’t easy stepping out of your comfort zone although I read once that being comfortable is one of the worst things if you’re trying to achieve a goal. Well, I'm definitely out of my comfort zone right now.

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In fact, I’m experiencing a bit of difficulty getting myself over the front door. Part anxiety, part fear, I can hear a bizarre voice in my mind whenever I am trying to get out on my bike. I know that sounds completely crazy but it’s part of learning to live with a spinal cord injury. Once I am out, I am okay, but it’s taking that first step that’s the hardest part.

When I was out in Switzerland everything was okay, I could just go out and ride from the door. But because I am in Central London, the logistics involved make everything stressful and tiring. There is the hassle of getting on a busy tube with the bike and the orthotic, the chance of getting ill. Everything is just such a faff.

It is so much easier for me to ride on the turbo or go to the gym that I start thinking about all the reasons why I can’t do things, rather than the reasons I can. I start to get frustrated with myself.

I know I need to make myself need to go out and do more so I’m also looking to get a little van or a car I can put my bikes in then drive out to the velodrome or out to the countryside for one of my long rides.

Nonetheless, I know that leaving the team was the right move. Even after one week, my mind feels so much more relaxed around the pressure of winning. The only pressure I have now is my own, and I am in control of that.

Another reason for additional stress is the fact my next oncology appointment isn’t far away. There is a part of our brain known as the Amygdala which orders our memories of emotional events to avoid them in the future. This area of my brain lights up every time I get an oncology letter, triggering the chronic stress they have caused me previously. Attempting to manage this process is a game of mental chess.

My main fear is not death but illness – of being hit with more tumours, strokes and paralysis. Just writing the words sends a shiver through my body. I know thoughts like these are not good and I am working on it. But the part of my brain that stores emotional memories is full of stuff I never dreamed of seeing. So any trigger takes me back to those ICU rooms and neurological wards and I almost become paralysed with fear again.

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This is a another world, light years away from the bustling London streets, but I was transported back there this week as I read the news that Pete Reed, a triple Olympic Gold medallist and one of Team GB’s most decorated athletes had suffered a spinal stroke and was paralysed from the chest down. Currently in a neurological ward, the gold medal winner from Beijing, London and Rio faces a whole different challenge now, but one that 20 years in sport will have prepared him mentally to navigate through. However, this path has many dark places waiting to trip you up. I have reached out to him and am happy to help in any way once he feels ready to talk.

I think back to my spinal stroke in 2010 a week after my first surgery. It was one of the scariest experiences I have ever gone through. I can’t remember much but from what I was told I could have easily died.

These are very rare things to happen and it’s a huge shock when you see a triple Olympic medalist having one. I know Pete will attack his rehabilitation like he did his Olympic career, and I pray for a full recovery without too many dark places along the way.

If I am honest the ramifications of my stroke didn’t really hit me until 2017. All the time I was strong and had the rehab to focus on, and as athletes that’s what we are good at.

We smoke the early stages as our minds are wired for that stuff. But what I really struggled with was when I accepted that I had got as far as possible in my rehabilitation and came to terms with how my life had changed. Up until then I had been so strong, but suddenly I needed help. Maybe a month after I had sat down and had lunch with Pete at the London Sporting Club I had a break down and it all hit me. It takes strength to ask for help when you need it.