After what seems like an eternity we’ve almost emerged from another grotty Cornish winter. Race season will soon be in full swing and we’ll no doubt be praying for the off-season to come back around. For me, the Start of a new season always comes with mixed feelings: on one hand I’m eager to get that flying feeling of good form and peak fitness, despite the early morning starts, I do really enjoy pitting myself against others.
New Year, New Me?…Probably Not!
2018 has been a bumper year of cycling for me, I’d racked up an impressive amount of rides as confirmed by the “My Year in Sport” feature on Strava. I enjoyed rides in 6 different countries, Won 5 TimeTrials, placed very well in others, with mild success in CycloCross and Crit Racing and I’d only narrowly missed out on my 2nd Cat licence.
But what about this year? What about 2019?
This year I’d like to build on the successes of last season across the board but, predominately in timetrialling. I’ve come to appreciate that it takes a few seasons to really find your feet in this discipline and to consistently do well at it. I also appreciate that to allow that to happen I need to train much smarter than I have done and not just ride my bike accruing all of these “Junk Miles”. I’m in an awkward position really and it’s quite a tough decision, I’m clearly a capable rider and ultimately I don’t ride my bike for the race success or the acknowledgement of my peers – If anything that just adds to my stress levels and has a knock-on effect on my cycling – I do it because I love cycling, If getting the results in races means cutting down on my mileage a bit, then okay I can deal with that, but if it means sitting on a turbo trainer night after night chasing people around a fictional Volcano and rarely getting out in the “real World” then, quite frankly I’m not that interested. (No disrespect, it’s just not my thing- plus my interent connection is terrible.)
I’m sure there’s a good balance to be had between riding for fun and riding for serious gains. Hopefully through a bit of research and advice I’ll be able to strike a healthy balance between beneficial training rides and social rides with others. Do I owe it to myself to give it a go for a season? Possibly. I’m 25 so reasonably young; enough to still be classed as “young” but equally old enough to know that I’m not going to be a professional at the Tour de France. But I wonder if I’d want that anyway, all the stress of having to perform or face unemployment, watching what you eat all the time, not being able to do “normal” things with your friends? na not for me.
Timetrial: I’d like to complete a full season of timetrialling, from start to finish, every race that’ll count towards the Cornish cup and the BBAR. I narrowly missed out by one race last season, frustratingly I would consistently take blocks of time out of the rider who got 3rd in the cup, but spreading myself too thin with Crit racing the day before TT’s meant that I started to lose my gains on him towards to the end of the season. Having looked over the 2019 calendar there seems to be many events on the courses I enjoy, there also seems to be a lot held on courses over the border in Devon, I’ll welcome these new courses as a change of scenery for sure.
Road Race: Aswell as timetrialling I would like to do a couple more road races. I find Criterium races too stressful with way too many variables to manage and ultimately, it always comes down to a sprint, im definitely not a sprinter. I feel I posses many of the attributes of a good Road Racer, endurance, climbing ability and due to timetrialling, an ability to hold a solid pace for a prolonged period of time. Having made the mistake of racing too many consecutive events last year I’ll only consider Road Races if I have a clear weekend. Theyre not really a road race but events such as the RedBull timelaps or the Revole24 really appeal to me, 24hours of relay racing trying to clock up the most distance sounds mega! I just need to find a team of like minded/crazy individuals to do it with me. Cornwall doesn’t boast the biggest road racing scene so inevitably there will be a fair bit of travel involved, but why not give it a go I guess?
Cyclocross: My big goal for this year is to ride the 3 peaks race in Yorkshire, it looks brutal but a seriously good day out in an exciting part of Britain. Check it out here, it’s well worth a look: http://3peakscyclocross.org.uk/course-details/ Apart from that, I’m going to keep on training on my cross bike for a while yet, My Girlfriend is studying at Ashburton at the moment so i’m hoping to do some good exploratory rides over the moors that I’ll no doubt document. I’ve got similar goals for the new cross season, possibly giving the National Championships a go athough it seems a long way off now, it’s not even finished for this year officially. In addition to racing I’d be keen to check out the Grinduro or Gravelfest races if anybody wants a companion for a weekend!
Travel: Having had only a taste of cycling in different countries I’m very keen to get out and see more of the world by bike, this doesn’t have to be through competing, whilst I’m not a huge fan of the whole “Bike-Packing” craze I can see the appeal and I definitely get that its a great way to see more of a country. Aside from the annual pilgrimmage to Mallorca I haven’t got too much planned, but as before mentioned; I’m always keen to explore and in fact there’s still so much of the U.K. that I have never been to let alone ridden around, maybe thats a good place to start?
Blog: I’m still very new to the ever popular world of Blogging, I enjoy writing and I really enjoy riding so it seems to make sense to write this blog. I’d very much like this blog to grow and become something quite special and not just be a space for my thoughts and ramblings. This year I’m planning a few good articles/posts mostly about my local rides. Cornwall is a fantastic place to call my home roads and I’d love to showcase it more on here. Kit reviews and product testing are also very much on my radar, but not immediatly. I’d like to get the Blog established with a steady stream of regular content to a wider audience first. But if anyone wants any kit tested or written about, please keep me in your thoughts!
Aside from competing I’d really like to smash the 200km on a single ride, I’ve done some longer rides but I’ve not yet hit the mythical 200km- that said, rather conveniently the place my Girlfriend now studies at is almost exactly 200km away… To conclude, will it be a New Year, New Me? I’ve certainly got the plans to train more efficiently, but whether i will remains to be seen. I don’t hold out much hope to be honest!
Enough about me, what are your plans for 2019? What do you think of mine? Is there anything you would recommend? all of my plans are fairly loose at the moment so i’m always open to experiences new.
Once again, good luck in your own plans for this year. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.
Now, Just Go Ride.
The Rapha #Festive500
Firstly, Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all had a fantastic festive period and if you’re anything like I was, I wish you well in your post-nye recovery!
The end of the year for me was a very pleasant and relaxing time, full of Turkey sandwiches. The period between Christmas and New Year is always a disorientating one where you completely lose track of what day it is. My Girlfriend worked throughout so I thought I’d occupy myself with the Rapha Festive 500 Challenge on Strava, I’d ridden it the last few years and it gave me a reason to get off the sofa and certainly helped to justify the amount of food I’d eaten; “It’s okay I’m gonna ride 500km so I better have another handful of chocolates”
For those who don’t know, the Festive 500 is a Strava challenge to clock up 500km’s of riding in the 8 days between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, it’s not the easiest challenge but neither is it the hardest, provided you have the free time and of course, the weather. Luckily this year, I had both.
When I go out riding it’s usually at a fair pace with plenty of big efforts, sprints or climbs to tackle, so for this years 500 I decided to do something a bit different; I promised myself it would be social rides only, never mind the average speed, never mind going for any “segments”, so long as the distance was there it was good enough for me. I’d make it my goal to try and catch up withall the friends I usually ride with as well as all the friends that I don’t usually ride with, the one rule being; conversation pace only. After all, it is Christmas and having flogging myself for most of the season, it would be nice to get gentle miles in alongside good company, while hopefully not gaining too much of a festive belly.
Day 1. Christmas Eve. 24/12/2018 105.43KM
To kick the challenge off I rode into work the long way, we were only working until midday so I’d fire in some post-work miles out to Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole, throwing in a loop up to St. Buryan and then Madron to get the ball rolling and make some room for the inevitable Christmas Day feast. Whilst at the shop I stocked up on some essentails for the challenge; Tubes, Lube and Food. I’d had bad luck with Punctures lately so tube stocks were getting low. Lube, I try not to use the real gloopy lube on my chain, opting instead for the lighter stuff, you just end up getting through it a lot quicker! Lastly, Nutrition; Veloforte bars, -if you haven’t tried one, you really must- proper food with all natural ingredients, unlike the usual high-sugar energy bars that always seem to give me gut-rot. I grabbed one of each of the flavours to see me through the challenge. Day one complete, 105.43 in the bag plus a dodgy garmin upload.
Day 2. Boxing Day 26/12/2018 65.32km
I chose not to ride on Christmas day -personally I think its a bit odd, isn’t it about spending time with loved ones? I’m super obsessive about riding so if I can manage to not ride for one day then anyone can-
Tradionally Boxing Day is the Gut-Buster TT, a fun and social race held on a local 10-Mile Time Trial course, typically it’s a road-bike only event with christmas jumpers and Santa hats encouraged, TT rigs, pointy hats and skinsuits very much discouraged. I opted to give it a miss this year despite my promise to be social, time was tight with other commitments ( Thats my excuse and i’m sticking to it ) instead I decided to ride my usual 40 mile loop at a very cruisy pace, it was a nice crisp morning and I wanted to get some dry miles in and definitely not see my breakfast again! The loop goes out to Mousehole from Porthleven, heading over to Hayle and back along one side of the TT course, an aesthetically pleasing triangle on the map. I pulled over at the top of the climb on the TT course to cheer on those racing, seeing the pain faces made me feel quietly smug that I’d chosen not to race. I rode 65.32km taking me up to 170.75km, the #Festive500 was well within reach and I still had 5 days left of riding.
Day 3. 27/12/2018 103.70km
Day Three was where my Social 500 would begin. I’d arranged to meet a friend who had been away at University, we were well overdue a catch-up. Meeting in Marazion we rode out through the quiet backlanes towards Gwithian and the North Cliffs. The conversation topics covered a lot; previous season banter, new bikes, Team Sky, and Christmas presents. As we cruised along the North Cliffs we caught up with another friend, the three of us rode together to mist-covered-Portreath before heading inland to Scorrier and Carharrack, talk drifted from PowerMeters to aeroplanes, endurance rides to podcasts. I’d definitely stuck to “conversation-pace” and it was great, the hours and miles soon flew by effortlessly, lost in good chat with good mates, exactly what the 500 was about. We covered 103.70km in a shade over 4 hours bringing me to 274.45km. Bring it on.
Day 4. 28/12/2018 161.47km
I find the #Festive500 is made a lot easier if you can squeeze a Hundred mile ride in, I appreciate thats a lot easier said than done, but trust me it helps! I had a plan to make it manageable too, I’d break it into three chunks; I would meet a friend for a couple of hours in the morning, another friend for a few hours in the afternoon and then whatever was left over I’d finish off solo. The plan worked, largely. I met Andy at 8 and we meandered down to Marazion and Mousehole before winding back up to Hayle, and cutting back via Praze-An-Beeble to Home, I chucked a cup of coffee down and then went to meet Simon, however he’d planned to do the same route as I’d just done! We rode it in reverse, chatting all things Premier League before stopping for a coffee in Marazion, in keeping with my social 500 we met friends in the cafe and whiled away the next hour, I could’ve all too easily rode home with 70 in the bag, Simon had to get home and I was sorely tempted to follow. I had tasked myself with the hundy so laboriously I turned and rode back the way I’d come, making it almost three laps of the same triangle! I hit my hundred but man, what a waste of a hundred. Cornwall is so beautiful with incredible riding and adventure to be had, instead I chose to follow two main roads. However, the 161.47km brought me very nicely up to 435.92km, well within striking distance.
Day 5. 29/12/2018 38.6km
It was back to work for me on Day 5, I decided to treat it as a rest-day of sorts, I would comfortably complete the Festive500 so an easy day would be welcome. The shop was still on the Festive opening time meaning a much later opening time, I welcomed the extra hour in bed. Having ridden in the daytime for the last week, reverting back to the dark mornings and evening wasn’t fun. Hi-viz and plenty of lights were back on. Recently i’d manged to source a bargain of a bike for my Dad, a 2015 Cervelo R3 Ultegra for £250! It wouldn’t have been right to let him use it without “testing” it out first, y’know…in the interest of health and safety…I rode the longer way in and the longer way back to make it up to 38.6km, the bike handled lovely throughout too. Five days of riding and 474.12km with two days left. The Home straight.
Day 6. 30/12/2018 104.6km
Having raced most weekends throughout the season I’d missed most Club Rides, as I was keeping things social I thought it was high time I caught up with my friends from Ludgvan CC, during the week I’d gone along to their christmas do for a few beers and general catch up, It was great seeing everyone again and I promised to tag along to a club ride soon. Despite the grotty weather it didnt seem to put the Ludgvandrians’ off with a good number turning out for the social. We rode coastal up to Porthtowan before cutting in through Chacewater to the Bissoe for Coffee and tasty Gluten Free Cake, the group split up with some having a wife-imposed curfew and others on a free-pass for the day as is normal for sunday club runs. I enjoyed seeing everyone and meeting new members of the club, the same old tear ups on the downhills were always a good blast too, Ludgvan I promise I won’t leave it so long before another club ride! 104.6km saw me crack the festive500 with a day to go. 579.12km in the bag.
Day 7. New Years Eve 31/12/2018 52.1km #Festive631
It was back to work again for me on New Years Eve, with the Rapha Festive 500 well and truly completed I thought it would be rude not to push on for the 600. I commuted in the longer way going out towards Gweek and the Lizard and then pushing out a few extra miles on the way back to sneak in a little 52.1km ride before the end of the year.
I’d finished another Festive 500 and with it, another year of riding my bike. I’ve enjoyed this season more than any other i’ve done. I’ve had mild success accross a range of disciplines, I’ve ridden and raced with and against some good freinds and characters along the way too. If you’re planning on undertaking the 500, I would definitely recommend doing the Social and not the Solo, I had so much fun and got lost in some really engrossing conversation on my rides which was stark contrast to the 2017 edition of the 500 where I slogged it out mostly solo, that was a toughie.
So grab your mates and take it on, it’s a fun challenge to do and one that’ll stand you in good stead for the new year too. The challenge had taken my total to 19,819.6km for the year; over 437 rides and 719 hrs 26mins. Thats from here to New Zealand!
#Festive500 by numbers:
Kilometres Covered: 631.3
Active Days: 7
Hours Ridden: 22
Meters Climbed: 5,740
Friends Ridden With: 10
Turkey Sandwiches: 7
Thanks again for reading, it’s not the best post i’ve ever written but it seems pointless to go to the efforts of social riding if one isn’t social afterwards!
Good luck for all your endeavous this year,
You’ve read the post, Now, Just Go Ride.