At the start of this year, knowing that I was going to be cycling to work pretty much every day I set myself a challenge of covering 3,000 miles before 2017 was over. In theory, if I rode every day averaging 60 miles a week then it should be pretty easily achievable but in practice it was a bit tricker.
In reality, once time off work (we got married and had a honeymoon, which was a good three weeks with not riding) and those surprisingly frequent days when I needed to drive for whatever reason we’re factored in it was pretty clear that just commuting wasn’t going to get me anywhere near my target. Fortunately I had plenty of fun riding planned in to make up the shortfall.
In May I was talked into entering a 7 hour endurance race as one half of a pair, so the first few months of the year were fairly intense with training for that. Lots of long commutes home from work and long, 30 mile plus off-road rides on the weekends soon added up and I found myself averaging between 80 and 100 miles most weeks – easily enough to stay on target. After the race though (we didn’t finish last!) things started to tail off a little bit in preparation for the wedding.
Summer was patchy at best. There were a few decent length mountain rides in there, and commuting was fairly steady but it wasn’t brilliant. There was a week off around the wedding and not as much fun riding as I’d have liked. Then with two weeks in South Africa off the bike entirely I had to do my best to step it up a little bit for the autumn.
Unfortunately, due to some badly timed bike breakages combined with some frankly miserable weather riding was steady at best. This continued into the winter with some cold and icy days making commuting a bit dangerous and an explosive puncture at Dalby Forest cutting short what should have been a decent length ride. I’d hoped to have been fairly close to my target by the start of December but as it turned out I was going to need a put in some fairly hard weeks if I was going to make it.
After my final commute of the year (and indeed ever, as I move to pastures new in January) I still had 45 miles to go before new year. A spin round Dalby on the 23rd shaved off 22 miles, leaving me over a week to rack up another 23. Realistically this was no problem, but after a last Christmas Eve and with a couple of hours to spare on Christmas morning I decided to reel off the miles in one, so I could have a chilled week before New Year and not have to worry about mileage.
The ride started well, with a great spin around Hull centre and marina to start. I then headed across town into the Wolds where the fun really began. In town I’d mostly been quite sheltered from the gusty 40mph miles, but there was no such luxury on the open hills of the Wolds. What should have been a nice easy spin turned into a brutal war of attrition. I was struggling to keep any speed up on the descents, and the climbs were energy sapping grinds instead of quick sprints. At every junction I had to resist the temptation to cut short to the in-laws, but my stubborn streak kept me going and I finally rolled into the driveway with 26.5 miles showing on the GPS, and legs that felt like lead weights. But I’d made it, and with extra miles!
I’ll probably add a few more miles before the end of the year but it’s nice to be able to pick rides based purely on fun value rather than mileage, and to not feel like I *have* to go out if the weather is foul or if I’m feeling tired.
It’s been a bit of a mixed experience. I’ve enjoyed having something to aim for but I’ve felt like every ride I’m counting the miles rather than just riding for enjoyment. As I’ll no longer be riding to work next year I’m not setting myself a mileage aim, rather I’m going to give myself a number of more specific (and hopefully more fun) challenges, which may or may not be bicycle related. There’s a two day bivvy ride in the Lakes I’ll be signing up for in May and I have both a skateboard and a slackline that feel like they’ve been gathering dust for far too long…