This was the moment that I completed 800 miles of cycling in 2015. I was near the summit of my last hill of the year – and what could be a more appropriate street name for a bike ride than Bottom Lane, in Seer Green?
The 800 mile achievement may be modest by other people’s standards, but it is my best for a decade. (In 2005, I cycled from Vienna to Prague and notched up two centuries in eight days.) The hugely popular Strava cycling app played a big part in motivating me – and I’d have fallen short of the 800 mile record had I not spotted on Strava on Monday night that another 37 miles would see me past the milestone.
According to my Strava record, I climbed 35,000 feet this year – more than the combined height of Everest and Snowdon. Over 4,500 feet of that total was achieved on my 2015 century ride, with an almost identical elevation climbed in six bike rides on holiday at The Park in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall.
I took the photos above on my favourite regular ride, Over the Hills to Beaconsfield. It’s not an exotic ride, but it packs a lot into its 9.8 miles, with Chilterns woodland, downland and four climbs. The fingerpost is at the foot of Clay Street, a 5% climb towards Beaconsfield. I took the first shot at the beginning of June, as I took advantage of the lovely long evenings to renew my love of two wheels. I couldn’t resist taking another photo today, but changed the angle to avoid the dazzling winter’s sun.
It has become a tradition for me to blog about cycling on New Year’s Eve. Two years ago, I looked back on my challenging ride from Penarth, Wales to Buckinghamshire. Last year, I looked ahead to my 2015 century. Tonight, I’m looking ahead as well as reflecting on my best cycling year in a decade. Given that my 2015 800 miles were almost entirely cycled in the last seven months of the year, I’m aiming for at least 1,000 miles in 2016. More significantly, I’m starting to think about the End to End: Land’s End to John O’Groats.
I did the End to End in 2002 (above), taking advantage of Bike Adventures‘ excellent supported holiday. I’ve always wanted to repeat the extraordinary experience, and hope to do so by the end of the decade. Next time, I’ll opt for hotels rather than sleeping under canvass as in 2002, not least as it’s far easier to charge my smartphone, Kindle, GoPro and Garmin in a B&B!
I hope you enjoy your cycling in 2016.