I’ve not ridden as much this year. After creeping over 10,000km last year, I set a very ambitious target of 12,500km but it just didn’t materialise. In fact today, I’m exactly 1000km less than last year. No big deal. A two week holiday to Canada and some personal stuff prevented some of the extra miles adding up but its still been a great year with some memorable rides.
In February, I organised the last ever official Cult Racing A ride. Six of us rolled out from Alvechurch for 50 miles on familiar roads we all used to enjoy when the shop was in its pomp. Ride done we met up with the B’s back at the cafe and smashed the coffee, beer and cake, racking up a tidy £90 bar bill! I’ll remember it for that if nothing else!
In March I gave my new Ribble CGR a decent run out to Bushcombe Lane to tick off the climb I’d had on my radar for some time. I found some great new roads and suffered like a dog up what was a brutal climb but a great day out on the bike nonetheless.
The Velo Brum was back again in May and in the week before it I was given a free entry by a colleague at work (Thanks again Lawrence!). On just a diet of commutes I rode with my mate Baz who’d trained and done 150 miles at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April and was flying. We started at the front and found some fast groups to latch onto and blasted around the first 3hrs before I went pop in Kings Norton. I pedalled squares for the next 90 mins to roll in for a respectable 4.5hrs. Despite all the negative press and of course the death of one rider in the crash, it was quite a spectacle and very well supported by the general public.
Two weeks later I was waiting by the side of the road at 5am for rest of the crew as we started a 200 mile ride to Weston and back. I’d popped a double century on my goals for 2019 and this was it. It was meant to be a practice for Chase the Sun but I sacked that off shortly after. On the day we had decent weather other than the roll into Weston when we got soaked and highlights like riding over the Severn Bridge will stick with me. No dramas just great fun riding all day with your mates. The longest ride I’ve ever done and I finished tired but not smashed. The Velo was worse.
A week later I was up in Wales ticking more climbs off my list. Stwlan Dam is a unique climb. Effectively closed to the general public, you have to go and find it. I’d seen pictures of its hairpins at the top which gave it that Alpine flavour and wanted to try it, so I planned, plotted and rode a 100km route to it and it didn’t disappoint. Eerily silent at the top by the dam, it’s an imposing piece of road and you’ll remember it for sometime after you’ve climbed it because its so unique. One of my highlights of the year.
Later on in June, I was going back to North Wales and had planned to ride it one way. It had been a long, long time since I’d ridden to my parents in Llandudno. The last time was mainly A roads so this time I’d planned to do it on 200km of the quieter roads. Buoyed by my fitness I set off too quick on a route that was really too hard. I hadn’t paid enough attention to the terrain and gradients. Boy I paid for it. My enduring memory of this ride is rocking up at my parents, who had guests, and being virtually unable to talk I was so tired.
After a two-week holiday in Canada with no bike in September, I spent a month getting fit again. Then in November, a weekend I had free saw me have a look at the ‘new’ Mad March Hare route out to the Wyre Forest and back. On a murky day, the route was a real test. A very grippy, tough meandering route that demands you keep something in the tank. It was a tough day out and will be a real test for riders in March.
And finally, with the year nearly done, the girlfriend’s shifts and having Dan on Boxing Day this year allowed me to get a super-rare ride in on Christmas Day. It was a great 2hr ride on quiet lanes on a super fine sunny day in total contrast to Boxing Day which was miserable.
So what was my ride of the year?
Without a doubt it was the double century to Weston and back. The epic distance, the headwind all the way there, the rain, the breakfast, the camaraderie, riding over the iconic Severn Bridge and being able to talk about it all after. We created a memory that day which I’ll never forget. Thanks boys x
2020 will be no different. I’ll continue the commutes and pepper the year with the occasional longer ride or event which I’ll write about. Another double century would be great and I’m off to Fuerteventura again in March but we’ll see what happens. I do have some goals for 2020 though which I wrote about earlier this week.
What was your ride of the year?