My 2015 Cycling Year

I had some big improvement ideas coming into 2015. I wanted to move myself forward and show some real progress. I used a coach and put a lot of effort into my training at the end of 2014 and start of 2015, and in January I sat down and wrote out the goals I wanted to achieve, and the race plan in order to do that. Goals are important. If you don’t have a goal, you aren’t training. You are just riding your bike. Your goal doesn’t have to be racing. It can be completing an audax or sportive, improving fitness and losing weight or undertaking a charity ride. These are the goals I wrote down at the start of the year.

Goals – Interim

  • Average power personal best (PB) for a 10
  • Average power PB for a 25
  • Average power PB for a 50

Note – these goals were entirely within my control – it’s important to have some like this

Goals – one-off

  • A “19” 10
  • A “52” 25
  • A PB at 100

Goals – compound

  • Win the National Clarion Points Championship – my main goal!
  • Top 10 in the M&DTTA Cheshire Points Series
  • North Cheshire Clarion BAR winner

Goals – bonus

  • > £100 in prize money
  • Podium position in an open event

So how did I do?

Well first off I didn’t achieve my main goal, which was to win the National Clarion Points Championship. I’d been runner-up almost by stealth in 2014 so I decided to have a real punt at it this year. A combination of not being as fast as Martin, the winner, and some bad luck with brakes meant that I have been provisionally told that I came 2nd again (presumably first veteran). Notable results as part of this were becoming the National Clarion 50M TT champion, coming 7th in the circuit race and 6th in the hill climb. I even rode the cyclocross championships but I don’t think I came anywhere in that (results weren’t available as I write this). Congratulations to Martin on defending his title – a very worthy winner indeed, especially as he broke the National Clarion 10M TT record, rode a superb race in the 25 and rode some very fast times throughout the year. On a related point I also came 2nd in the National Clarion BAR competition – always the bridesmaid so to speak – and played a significant role in North Cheshire Clarion doing better than ever in the overall National Clarion points competition – must be close to winning it in fact!

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The only time I was in front of Martin!

I also didn’t manage a “19” 10, coming within 12 seconds of it on a very windy trip to Hull whilst setting a new 10 PB of 20:12. On my last chance to get on the V at Hull my entry had gone in with my previous time of 20:48 and I didn’t get a ride as the huge field meant the cut-off was 20:36 – so not even a chance of a cigar.

I did manage to increase my average power PB at all distances. I also lowered my 25 PB to 52:30 and my 100 PB to 03:52:14, so they were all ticked off.

I was pleased to get 7th place in the Cheshire Points Series despite only having nine qualifying rides as opposed to ten, and I did win the NCC BAR but that’s a very hollow victory given that nobody else even attempted the required distances. I was top ten in about 40% of the open events I raced and never finished lower than 4th in the club events (except when I was DQ’d – another first for me!)

I won £174 in prize money, which is still a thrill when it happens, and I was absolutely delighted to get a 3rd place in an open 25.

I helped NCC win the inter-club trophy competing against Stretford and Withington wheelers.

I did unexpectedly well in the VTTA M&NW competitions, coming 3rd in the 3 distance, 2nd in the short distance and 2nd in the local short distance.

Finally, I did a bit of mud-bothering! In fact I completed 11 races – 10 in the NWCCA league and one in the Notts & Derby league. Despite falling off numerous times (the worst hitting a tree when brakeless) I managed not to disgrace myself and might even finish in the top 30 in the NWCCA league and possibly top 25. An experience, to say the least!

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Stepping back, it’s pretty disappointing to miss out on my main goal. As I said above, I had a race plan to make it happen but as a project manager by profession I know better than most that as a soon as a plan is put on paper it is out of date. Was it Eisenhower who said that no plan survived contact with the enemy? My first points race should have suited me – a hilly TT. The weather put paid to that. My second race and I was coming down with an illness despite meticulous preparation. Third race I didn’t fancy at all and I won it. Fourth race and a brake-related mechanical all but put paid to my chances. However, a rethink and a contingency plan meant that decent rides in the circuit race and hill climb gave me a hint of a chance if I could do okay in the cyclocross race. A lack of preparation on my part (my worn brake pads expired mid-race) potentially cost me but overall it’s a great example of the importance of planning and preparation, but also how having a bit of determination and some contingency options can give you a second chance at hitting your goals.

Outside of racing I rode a few very cold audaxes earlier in the year, and had a really nice time cycling around the island of Lanzarote when we visited in the summer. You can’t beat warm weather cycling in my opinion.

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Here’s some interesting stats from my year

  • 5,309 road miles (indoor miles do not count Zwift users!) in 313hrs 21m at 17mph average speed – overall mileage down, average speed up
  • Of that 1,071 miles were racing, time-trialling at an average speed of 26mph, crit racing at 23.1mph, cyclocross at 11.6mph and hill climb at 10mph
  • An additional 151hrs 30m on the turbo, over double the amount in 2014
  • Only 225,888ft ascent
  • 199,030 kcalories used on the road and 106,346 on the turbo
  • Overall training load 24,720TSS
  • Longest distance – 128 miles
  • Best average speed – 29.7mph
  • Highest speed – 43.8mph
  • Average HR 127bpm road, 135bpm turbo and highest HR 188bpm
  • Most climbing in one ride – 6,124ft
  • Most energy used in one ride – 4,982 kcalories
  • Ride temperatures from -2.9˚C to 28.3˚C
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Strava came up with slightly different figures!

I only posted in my blog 25 times during 2015 but it still got 13,046 hits from 7,674 visitors, with views from every inhabited continent!

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Sources of my blog hits

One of the things commented on in the last year has been the weather. There is no normal anymore but it certainly felt wetter and windier than the year before. In fact, here’s a graph that shows 2 years worth of temperatures and wind speeds as logged at the start of my rides.

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Wind speed and temperature at the start of rides in 2015

As you can see the temperature for 2014 and 2015 follows a similar pattern, but the wind in 2015 is certainly stronger in general than in 2014. Given that my main type of racing is affected by the vagaries of the wind more than most I think I can definitely be satisfied with my performances over the year even though I failed at my primary goal.

In January I’ll sit down and write up my goals for 2016, although I already have a pretty good idea what they will be. One thing that will definitely change is that I will be leaving North Cheshire Clarion and will be racing for Seamons Cycling Club, which has more riders who focus on time trialling and a rich history associated with the sport. I’m excited about the improvement potential that will bring, and the focus it will give me personally, but I’d like to think that I’ve represented NCC well over the years. I’ll be forever grateful for the friends I made and the introductions to different forms of cycling that have become my passion. If you’d have asked my 6 years ago if I could have done what I’ve done in that time I’d have laughed at you. I wish you all the best for 2016 and will leave you with two quotes that I hope will inspire you to try something new next year.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream,” CS Lewis

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” Mark Twain

All the best.

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