Today’s words come to you courtesy of something all who live with ART (my nickname for arthritis) will understand, I’m sure.

Next month I take part in my toughest cycling challenge yet – the Le Mans Pearl Izumi 24H Velo. Apart from the physical training, the mental conditioning is a tough call. The hardest part to train is the brain.

So… what’s it like, waking up in the dark early hours of the morning listening to rain on the roof? I’m going to use the word ‘discomfort’ and not ‘pain’. Pain is so negative but I can do something positive about discomfort. The definition is the only hard part. The reality is it’s really very easy. How easy?

As simple as getting up and moving – that easy.

If ART had an animal equivalent - he would look like the pigeon that soils your car roof and cafe table

If ART had an animal equivalent - he would be the pigeon that soils your car roof and cafe table

Yes – it hurts.  Yes – it’s early, it’s cold, I don’t want to move, I just want to lie here and let ART dictate my day.

To be frank, bugger that, ART isn’t me and it isn’t you. ART is just an unwelcome guest that has moved in and there’s no polite way to get him to leave, yet.

You can make ART work for his living with you. Take him for a walk, you and the dog, take him for a bike ride, take him to the lounge and make him stretch and flex over a Swiss Ball, take him down the 24-hour gym and sit on a spin bike, do some stretches, lift some weights.

Guess what, ART is like all unwelcome guests – he’s lazy, he’s annoying, but HE’S NOT YOU!

ART hates you getting up and moving, he hates being active, he hates it when you get warm and get that blood flowing and he most of all hates endorphins. Endorphins make you happy and ART hates happy.

This morning I woke at 4.30am. I lay in my warm bed with that ever-present ache. I got up, made a good cup of coffee, ate some muesli then got on my bike and rode for 3.5 hours. And the good news is that ART’s packing a sad someplace else for the rest of the day.

Editor’s note: Tim Neal was featured this month in the French media in the lead up to his appearance at the Le Mans Pearl Izumi 24H Velo. Read more