Wednesday, 9 April 2014

New Year

I've always viewed the start of a new year not as an event to be celebrated zealously, but rather as simply moving forward by another day. As a result, I don't make grandiose resolutions and I don't ponder the past year too much. That also explains why this post wasn't posted at the start of the new year.

Having said that, a calendar year is a nice (reasonably) precise usit of measure and indeed I use it as such. For example, at the start of 2013, I set myself a target of 4 500 miles. This wasn't an arbitrary target and actually wasn't as much a target as a prediction, based on my expected mileage commuting to and from work. At the end of 2012, I had moved house, and that meant a significantly longer commute, hence the prediction.
In the end, I cycled 5 052 miles in 2013 and that led me to set an actual target of 6 570 miles for 2014.

This sounds like a lot, but averages to just 18 miles per day. My commute used to be 12 miles each way, but I've since altered my route, opting for quiet and scenic rural lanes instead of the busy and very unpleasant A379. The upshot of that is that my commute is now 15 miles each way.
This breaks down to 30 miles per day, or150 miles per week, simply commuting.

As you can see, just by commuting I should hit my target. In addition, I ride for leisure and usually go riding on Saturday mornings with a group of riders local to the area I live in. Typically these Saturday morning rides are in the region of 30 to 50 miles.

This means that if I commuted for 40 weeks of the year, and went for a 30 mile ride for each of those weeks, I could be hitting 7 000 miles for the year, making my target of 6 570 seem rather tame. Then again, I could also cycle significantly fewer miles.

2014 will be the year in which I do my first cyclo-sportive, the Dartmoor Classic. Although officially not classified as a race, effectively it is a race. Entrants set off at different times, in batches of 100 or so, and cycle either the 107-mile or the 68-mile route criss-crossing Dartmoor, with final standings being determined by each individual's time. I've signed up for the 107 mile option.

I have a lot of training to do before then, as I have never ridden that distance in one go before, plus there are some rather sizable hills along the way. Haytor, Pork Hill and Merrivale are hills on the route that have all featured in previous Devon stages of the Tour of Britain, and for very good reason, too.

Also during 2014, and a week before the Dartmoor Classic, I'm doing something called Darkmoor. Darkmoor is a semi-organised ride, through the night, from Okehampton railway station to Plymouth's Barbican. It's only a 52 mile ride, but I'm extending it by cycling from Plymouth to Okehampton, via Tavistock and Lydford, adding another 38 miles.

2014 is the first year that Darkmoor is taking place, but I'm intending on making it an annual event. I'm rather hoping that the first event will be a success, but I suppose time will tell.

Also, 2014 will be my second year as a British Cycling Ride Leader. As a Ride Leader, we take groups of cyclists on organised rides (called SkyRide Local) - search for rides near where you live by going to www.goskyride.com.
Being a Ride Leader is very rewarding. You get to meet all kinds of people, from across almost all ages, and the rides themselves vary from a pootle in a park to 20 mile rides, and everything in between.

I'm very much looking forward to 2014's SkyRide Local rides starting again.

Once the Dartmoor Classic is over and done with, I look forward to doing less training and more riding. And yes, there is a difference. I'm looking forward to going on long rides, where I can simply stop and admire the view and not have to worry about any adverse affects on my Strava segment times, nor care about my average speed.

Competitive cycling is all well and good, and I am indeed looking forward to doing the Dartmoor Classic, but I took up cycling not to become a racer, but because I enjoy it.
And to me, that enjoyment is as much part of cycling now as it was when I started cycling again some six years ago.