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At the start of 2013, my year was to be focused around two competing goals. The first, and most important to me, was completing London Edinburgh London. In the course of doing this I would complete 27 imperial centuries during the year, discover the true meaning of the word fortitude and raise £3,094 for KidsCan, a local charity. The second was to make some serious improvements to my time trialling in what would be my first “real” season – and by that I mean taking it seriously, with proper kit, proper training and giving it everything.
January started, as it has for the last few years, with the Hopey New Year audax. After a Christmas of ice and rain the weather was balmy by comparison, with temperatures in double figures. It didn’t last long and by the end of the month there had been flash snowstorms, which thankfully had disappeared by the time we rode the Mere 200 – although we came across one of the strongest headwinds I’ve ever experienced, as well as having to ride through several roads flooded from the combination of persistent rain and melting snow and ice.
I was still training hard in my shed during weekday evenings to ready myself for the forthcoming TT season, and at weekends I was trying to put the mileage in for LEL. First up was an audax I’d not done before – the Northwest Passage 200. A very cold day out but pleasant enough, with enough pace to really blow off the winter cobwebs. This was followed a couple of weeks later by the Newport 200, and the temperature stayed extremely cold throughout, including the odd little snow shower for good measure.
The start of the season, and naïve expectations that the weather would start to improve. Little did we know! After a difficult first TT in poor conditions I was very downhearted, but my second resulted in a new PB, and I started to feel that the training was paying off. At this point we were due to ride the Chirk 200 but snow delayed it a week. As the clocks sprang forward the temperature at the start was -2.9˚C!
The Full Monty 200 was another ride I hadn’t done before, and it was desperately cold and even punctuated with stops to carry the bike over snowdrifts! I also did a couple of 25M TT’s and another sports science test confirmed that I was in good shape for the TT season – confirmed by the fact that I was feeling stronger and more confident in each of the races. The Ironbridge 200 was another new audax which was enjoyable and continued to build the mileage within my legs. Things were getting busier as the Kilton midweek TT’s also started, replacing time spent on the turbo in the shed. At the end of April I rode the Red Rose 200, yet again in freezing cold conditions, but with strong winds and rain thrown in for added hypothermia. As I reached the halfway point at Glasson Dock I was as cold and wet as I had ever been.
I started May with a long and hilly permanent audax with Chris over the Dark and White peaks – 131 miles and nearly 13,000ft of climbing was pretty testing, although thankfully the weather was kind to us. I followed that up with another big one, the Dales Delight 200, which again saw me wet and cold by the time I finished. Rides came thick and fast with a double weekend of hilly 200’s – the Tour of the Berwyns on the Saturday and Fleet Moss 200 on the Sunday. This was part of my plan to test my legs on consecutive days for LEL. I managed to ride both at a decent pace and was pleased that my training appeared to be coming together. The following weekend I rode my first 50 TT of the season and I was delighted that I knocked 11 minutes off my PB. This also meant I won the handicap, which meant a trophy and the first prize money I’ve EVER won! To say I was delighted was an understatement. I celebrated by riding the Spud Riley Polka Dot challenge – my only “sportive” of the year – and clocked up 1,000 miles for May.
Hills and Plains 200, Good Companions 200 and Staffordshire Peaks audaxes were all ticked off in pleasant weather and I was feeling like the training was building very nicely indeed. In between all of that were a bunch of TT’s where I continued to make good progress towards my time goals. Interestingly, on the 8th June the temperature at the start of one TT hit 29.7˚C, only 2 months since I carried my bike over the snowdrift blocking the top of Holme Moss. I finished off the month by riding my own training ride in terrible wind and rain (the weather went crazy!) followed by the Great Manchester Cycle battering around the closed roads of town – great fun!
On a very hot day Chris and I tackled the Bowland Badass – 168 miles and nearly 17,000ft of climbing! What a brilliant, challenging, awesome ride, and a shame it isn’t running in 2014. It took us near enough 12 hours but at the end we knew we could do big distances in a decent time. When I then did the Round West Riding 200k audax, a difficult ride in its own right, it felt slightly easy, which I took as a good sign! My final training ride was the Tan Hill 200, and then I was ready for LEL.
You can read about LEL here
LEL aside, I did a few TT’s (badly) and then took a well-earned holiday!
The combination of LEL and my holiday saw my TT form take a terrible downturn, with slow times and sluggish performance. My only redemption was a new PB in the very last 50, as I was determined not to finish the year on a low.
You can read my TT season roundup here
I also rode Two Loops 200, Pistyll 200, Wizards and Llamas and Last Chance Dales 200 audaxes in reasonable weather for the time of year.
The weather took a turn for the worst and I did a couple of audaxes early in October – old favourite Season Of Mists and another first, Venetian Nights 200 – yet another soaking. November was a right-off really as I was away for a week or so with work, causing me to miss the Eureka 200, and so I decided to take most of the month off and get back to training in December.
December started with relatively mild weather allowing several ad hoc low heart rate social rides that were great fun, as well as the Winter Solstice 200k audax without even a hint of ice on the roads. However, between Christmas and New Year the wind picked up, the ice returned (I fell off) and the rain started. As per last year I had entered the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava and by the end I’d wished I hadn’t due to the conditions. Not being one to give up on a challenge I ended up going out in stupid weather and completed it on the 31st – bringing my distance for December to 738 miles.
- Total road distance – 8,256 miles
- Boardman CX (Winter – now sold) – 1,462 miles
- Canyon Ultimate (Summer) – 2,540 miles
- Canyon Speedmax (TT) – 1,095 miles
- Pearson (fixie commuter) – 1,374 miles
- Raleigh Clubman (Winter – new) – 1,784 miles
- Total time – 21d 0hrs 37m
- Average speed – 16.4mph
- Ascent – 395,870ft
- Calories used – 370,610kcals
- Average HR – 132
- Longest distance single ride – 249 miles on LEL day 1
- Longest ride time single ride – 14hrs 19m 26s on LEL day 4
- Best average speed – 26.7mph at a Kilton TT
- Maximum speed – 51.7mph on the Tan Hill 200 audax
- Highest heart-rate – 190bpm
- Most ascent single ride – 16,601ft on the Bowland Badass
- Most calories used on a single ride – 9,627kcals on LEL day 1
- Hottest start temperature – 29.7˚C on 8th June
- Coldest start temperature – -2.9˚C on 31st March
- Number of p*******s – 5 (all from 30th July onwards!)
- Number of times I fell off – 1
It’s been a really good cycling year for me. I set myself challenging goals and enjoyed pushing further and faster to try to achieve them. Hopefully you’ve had an enjoyable year on your bike too – and I wish you an even better 2014. Finally, thanks to my family for putting up with this, and also many thanks to those I’ve ridden with for the great company – 2013 has been a blast!