It has become a tradition on New Year’s Eve for me to reflect on my year’s cycling, and look ahead to my cycling ambitions for the year ahead. This time, I’m feeling chuffed having cycled over 6,000 miles – 2,000 more than my previous record of 4.255 in 2019.
I have been amazingly consistent in 2021, cycling over 500 miles every month. That became a mission by the middle of the year – I couldn’t fall below 500 miles a month. The early winter months set the pattern of 500 plus mile months, thanks to my Wattbike Atom smart trainer. It was rare for me to record over 200 miles a month in winter before 2021, but the Atom made regular cycling far more enjoyable than cold, wet, icy rides outdoors. (I became far more familiar with the BBC iPlayer and Netflix as a result.)
The toughest months, ironically, were those in high summer: July and August. Summer holidays in Wales and Cornwall reduced the number of cycling days, and I confess that it was a slog to rack up the miles as the months ended. By contrast, November was the biggest month of all, with 586 miles recorded on Strava.
Back to touring: Way of the Roses
It was a joy to go touring again this June, on the Way of the Roses holiday run by the superb Peak Tours. (See my blogpost about the tour here.) The Covid-19 pandemic has created havoc for the travel industry and travellers, so it was a relief and a joy to complete a tour during 2021. Peak Tours were superb, rescheduling the trip after the original was prevented by lockdown restrictions.
I gained and lost a favourite bike this year. I was mortified to be told that the carbon frame of my Cannondale Synapse was broken. This was the bike I had ridden further than any other: over 7,200 miles in three years, including an unforgettable Land’s End to John O’Groats ride two years ago. Fortunately, I already had a gravel bike on order, and so the arrival of the Specialized Diverge in March was a delight. Nine months later, I’ve clocked up over 3,000 miles on it, and found it my most versatile bike yet. I’ve recorded some personal bests on it on the road, while loving taking it through Hodgemoor Wood – a trail I’d only ever followed on a mountain bike.
2022: back to the Highlands?
Covid-willing, I will be cycling the Scottish highlands again in May, on Peak Tours’ rendition of the North Coast 500. It will be spectacular and tough, including the greatest climb in Great Britain, Bealach na Ba: 2,000 feet of climbing from sea level, in a winding ascent that echoes the great Alpine climbs. I can’t wait to sample the views of the highlands and islands, even if it is through a haze of sweat as I struggle to gain altitude on yet another stiff ascent.
To make it easier, I will be diligent in my training. While 2021 was about the miles – that relentless monthly target of 500 miles – the new year will be quality over quantity. My priority will be to improve my climbing and choose hillier over longer rides. Losing a few pounds will help too…
Here’s to 2022!
PS: Karen started a tradition a few years ago of getting me a bottle of wine for every 1,000 miles cycled during the year. My reward for 2021 was six and a quarter bottles!