The Day I Gave Up

Each morning in the shower I think about my goals. I do the same while I’m driving. I think about it in bed in the evening and again when I wake up in the morning. Reminding myself, it’s possible!

Have you given your goals some thought? Can you see them clearly in your mind’s eye? Have you thought about them today? What about yesterday? Have you written them down?

At home, my office is very sparse. It contains my desk, a chair, a plant and my bike. This morning looking at my bike, it reminded me of a valuable lesson cycling taught me about goals.

Back in late 2006 after my sandwich company went bust and my marriage broke down, I took up cycling to help me cope with things. I was unhappy, overweight, unfit and didn’t even know how to clip into the peddles.

Fast forward six months to the summer of 2007, I decided, with three weeks to prepare, to ride the route of the Tour de France, one-day-ahead of the professionals. Some stats to put this in context since I had never ridden more than 4 hours or ridden up a hill bigger than the one in Hampstead. The route was 3,570 km long, went through the mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees, included 21 stages with only two rest days and the longest stage of 240km.

To say I was unprepared and not ready for the challenge was a total understatement, but off my Mother and I went. She drove the van, kept me fed and watered, and I rode the bike, on some days for 12 or 14 hours. Each night we slept in the van near the start line for the next day’s stage.

The day we reached the Alps I learnt a harsh lesson about knowing where you are going. It was the first proper mountain. I had a map to follow, but I didn’t know how far it was to the summit. As the gradient climbed and the hill disappeared off into the distance the pain grew and grew and grew in my legs.

In the end, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I climbed off the bike. I stopped beside the road. My brain couldn’t take the pain. I felt humiliated and desperate. I had never given up like this before in my life. I sat distraught by the side of the road. This mountain was only the first in a tour that contained 40 or 50 more just like this. Oh god, what had I done? I thought this is the end.

Then another cyclist came past and called out to me. Come on, its only 200m to the top, it’s just around the corner. I couldn’t believe it. I had quit on the verge of success. I had climbed off my bike just 200m from the summit. I stood up, got back on my bike and cycled on, cresting the mountain a few minutes later.

Over the next two weeks, I never quit again. I never gave up and finally, one sunny Saturday morning cycled into Paris. I had completed the route of the Tour de France. The cycling lesson I learnt that day on the mountain was always to know how far it is to the summit. I would program it into my bike computer so I would know exactly how many metres I had to go. This motivated me, allowed me to manage my effort and ultimately got me to the top as I could see an end to the pain.

Setting your goals in daily life is the same. If you keep them firmly in your mind. Know what they are, where they are leading and be constantly thinking about how to get there. Then one day, you will round a corner and see the summit just ahead.

Stay strong. Always believe in yourself. Long before others believe, you must believe it’s possible. Remember, we climb the mountain, not in giant leaps but one small step at a time.

Hi, I'm Luke Bream, the author of this blog, and one of the co-founders of Valentte. Thanks for taking the time to read about our journey.

We are small business based in Nantwich on an old dairy farm. We make affordable, luxurious home fragrance and natural skincare. It smells amazing, works like a treat and comes beautifully wrapped.

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10 thoughts on “The Day I Gave Up”

  1. The day I (almost) gave up was the day I stumbled on this blog. I am at a loss for words. Thank you Luke. It will be worth it all when we reach the mountaintop.

    • Hi Eve
      Thank you for your lovely kind words about my blog. It makes the writing all worthwhile. I know how hard it is to keep going and hope that you will find the strength and belief in yourself. Keep looking in a mirror and reminding yourself… “It’s possible!”
      Best Wishes
      Luke x

  2. Hello
    That was inspirational. For some reason I can’t walk any more. I have to wait 3 years for an MRI. But I have adapted my lifestyle. Ironic, it happened when I gave up smoking and started walking progressing to running. When I have a good day (legs) I make the most of it. I have been off smoking for 3 1/2 years, best thing ever. All good will and best for the future Luke.

    • Hi Lisa
      Gosh! What a tough journey you have had and thank you for sharing. It is you that is the inspiration to us all. I cannot imagine what you have been through and yet you are still able to see the positive. My thoughts are with you on this beautiful sunny morning.
      Best Wishes
      Luke x

  3. Hello Luke ,

    I am really enjoying reading your blog posts as they are genuine, authentic and as a man you have the courage to share your journey of ups downs, disappointments, “failures” lessons etc from an emotional and mental point of view with what comes across as total honesty. I was sensing that you would be a brilliant start up business mentor and also an inspirational speaker to school children to inspire them not to give up on their dreams and to make something or whatever they choose to make of their lives. Too many young live’s at crucial stages of growth and development lack direction and a channel for their hopes and dreams- people like yourself are a true inspiration. Keep up with your writing , its brilliant !

    • Hi Nicola

      Thank you for your lovely, positive and encouraging message. I have always wanted to teach young people, my mother was a teacher and I would love to have the opportunity to help and share some of what I have learnt.

      In 2006, my sandwich company went bust and I lost everything. At the time I thought very hard about going into teaching. But sadly the career path now requires a degree. After school, I went to Bristol University but dropped out after a month to start a business, so never completed my degree.

      I didn’t want to go back to university for three years and then another year or so of teacher training, so the idea of teaching didn’t happen. But I still harbour dreams of helping young people in some way in the future.

      Best Wishes

      Luke x

  4. I like the way you manage to put into words your thought processes. One thing I notice a lot from the posts I have read which you have written is that you focus a lot on the destination – as if maybe the journey is a by product. Something I have learnt from striving each day with my business and personal goals is that you train your mind into believing that once you get there something magical will happen. I believe that generally those that make their wildest ambitions a reality are sorely disappointed when they complete this journey, I have experienced this myself also. Life is for living so stop and take in your surrounding today, no matter where you are in life, tomorrow is not guaranteed and you will never really feel satisfied until you learn to be satisfied with what you already have.

    • Hi Sade

      Thank you for your very insightful and well-judged comment. I do indeed focus too much on the destination. From an intellectual perspective, I know that life is about the journey but I find it exceptionally difficult to live by that creed. I’m so driven and it is a constant battle for me.

      I put my ambition and work in front of everything else. I know this is unhealthy and often counterproductive. It damages my personal relationships and makes me near impossible to live with. This has been brought into sharp focus this last week with the ongoing debate surrounding the breakup of James Cracknell and Beverley Turner’s marriage.

      Your words have given me pause for thought. Thank you

      Best Wishes

      Luke x

  5. Wow I loved reading this especially the honesty about it!

    You guy’s are going to go far as a company since you can see from your overwhelming sample request that the demand is there!


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