I never take any breath for granted after 12 years of constant hospital stays.

This is even more the case when I wake up in the Scottish Highlands to fresh mountain air. After a long drive from Birmingham, I was home.

With a week of good weather scheduled, it was the perfect place for an intense block of training on the bike.

Within hours of arriving home, my heart rate was at 180bpm as I climbed the roads that run alongside Loch Ness.

I felt so alive and as my legs burned with the pain of cycling above my current fitness level, it brought back memories of when I rode back here on these roads in 2014 after the Glasgow games.

This trip home was a different one though.

Those few weeks riding here in 2014 came after my second diagnosis and before having my neck cut open again to remove this tumour for the second time.

Riding here in 2014 was a different experience, each ride I would stop cry and think what if I die and never ride again, what if I am paralysed from the neck down and spend the rest of my life just watching the world go by.

Those rides back in 2014 before surgery were emotionally hard, so to return home after these Commonwealth Games knowing I need no surgery is such a nice feeling.

I can ride and feel free, I can enjoy every pedal revolution and not have that inner voice filling my mind with the what ifs of surgery outcomes.

It was also a bonus that each morning I woke there was a clear blue sky and no sign of rain.

A morning coffee followed by riding from my front door is a huge contrast from riding in London.

Here there were no 5am starts to avoid traffic.

I was riding on my terms, not set by a London timetable.

Each morning I clipped into my bike I paused, just for a second before riding off.

I wanted to savour that moment, to feel the fresh mountain air enter my nose and into my lungs before pushing off and seeing where my bike would take me.

I had no plan, no real idea of where I was going to ride or for how long.

It was a far cry from a structured training ride, but I didn’t want to structure this week of riding.

I just wanted to ride and see where I ended up.

A mixture of cafe stops and seeing old friends, these rides were what the bike was made for.

Between cafes I pushed hard, but I made sure to stop frequently around the Strathspey valley to talk with friends and savour each moment of this trip home.

Most of the rides were with my good friend Brian who has been by my side through every surgery and on most of my adventures on the bike.

It reminds me how special friendships are, and how much I miss Scotland.

London doesn’t give me the same freedom to move, to feel connected and just feel free.

I might be trapped in a body I don’t want, but during these bike rides around the Cairngorm national park, I forget I am paralysed.

I don’t feel any pain from years of surgery, I just feel my legs burning and the fresh air flooding my lungs.

As the heat of the day peeks, we ride alongside some of Scotland’s best lochs.

I want to get off my bike and jump in, to dive into the cold water like I see so many others doing.

Then there is the reality, I can’t do that, if I got in, how do I get out with this body?

I found my mind thinking more about the water than the bike. I want what I don’t have. A natural human thought.

As this thought becomes stronger, I take my thoughts to how lucky I am to be here, to be riding and shift my focus back to what I have not what I don’t have.

So rather than a dip in the cold waters of the river Spey, a cold shower will do when I get home.

That cold shower however would be hours away, as each day I set off on my bike it was hours before I would return home.

In fact, I rode over 19 hours last week around the Highlands and not once felt tired.