Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is playing; as I sit down to write it has just started, so I am listening to ‘Spring’ but outside it’s definitely winter, a hard frost, snow frozen to ice and my breath billowing frozen fire. It is unlikely winter in January in the UK will be as cold as here in Kyrgyzstan, but I am apprehensive and excited nevertheless.

Why apprehensive? I have never attempted to do anything on this scale before. It is a step into the unknown. Although I cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats in the middle of winter in 2013, this a challenge of a different nature. There is still so much where I have no idea how it will pan out: how far will I be able to cycle each day? Where will I overnight? Who will I meet? Who will be up for hopping on the pink and blue tandem? My own treatment still feels recent and raw. Sharing this trip with other CanLivers is incredibly motivating but I also wonder what painful memories it will stir.

And why excited? It’s finally beginning! Though it doesn’t quite feel real yet. Months of planning, with the continued efforts of the Bristol2Beijing team have led to this point. They have helped turn an idea into a living, breathing baby. Now we are all excited to see how it will grow. For a long while I questioned the wisdom of delaying the start of the ride till January – wouldn’t it be better to begin sooner to maximise my chances of completing it in a window of good health? We still don’t know the answer to this. But right now, simply getting to the start line feels like – and is – a huge achievement; again made possible by an incredible group of individuals. And whilst there is no certainty of completion, it’s certainly what I’m hoping for!

I am excited to start turning the pedals, departing from Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre at 12 noon on 1st January. I am excited to meet new people. I am excited to challenge myself, to step into the unknown.

One month to go. The final countdown. But really this is just the very beginning. The violins say winter has arrived and I must prepare.