By Simon Miller 22/09/20 (member of the Southborough & District Wheelers)
Like many fellow cyclists I’m sure, I started planning out my cycling year back in December, plotting a few personal goals and a number of 2020 target events – from races to sportives to overseas adventures.
|New Year Prep|
Most of these involved weekend fixtures quietly inked into the family kitchen calendar ready for the down the track “I’m sure we discussed that” conversation, accepting that at least half of these ambitions may have to be sacrificed.
Looking back now, only one of those events was and is likely to be completed this year - a SERL Cat 3/4 Road Race in early March on the Biddenden course with heavy winter legs. At the time a painful “this is the last time, who am I trying to kid” exploit. Looking back now, something hugely missed even if I was dropped on the first lap and pulled on the last.
But what has taken its place has been an incredibly rewarding year of cycling thus far with still lots to go.
Outdoors we claimed the roads back from traffic and enjoyed the delights of riding both peacefully solo but also with our families on roads you might not have otherwise ventured.
As restrictions eased, it became time to seek out adventures, initially in pairs and then groups of six learning how to keep socially distant at lights and perhaps not quite hanging on to that wheel in front quite as tightly as Nairo.
|South Downs Way with Craig|
Working from home also gave back valuable commuter time and our 6am Cycling Club was more active than ever with old, regular and new faces alike. A good hour or so’s ride made a day of back to back Zoom meetings much more bearable with particular gratification as you looked those non-riders in the face on those early morning calls. As Tim Krabbe said in his seminal cycling book The Rider “The emptiness of those [non-racer] lives shock me”.
|Post ride refuel|
|Gravesend Ferry - All Smiles|
|IOW Tennyson Trail|
|Virtual Ride London completed as|
part of SDW Ride Lydd for local charity Nourish
|The Bata Factory|
Some wonderful sights and countryside were taken in including riding through the fascinating Bata Factory estate in East Tilbury of which I have since learned much more about as a pioneering model factory town. What I hadn’t counted on quite so much was the post-covid traffic volumes meaning it wasn’t until 100 miles in and past Ipswich that I could really relax and fully enjoy the ride.
Growing up in Australia I tend to measure things in kilometres and psychologically I prefer the more rapid ticking over of kms to the drawn out miles. The totals also sound more impressive and of course it is a little bit Pro 😉. For me I have found that 40km is a really nice manageable sector mentally with each 10 representing a quarter of that sector which you can knock off quite quickly. 10km is a trip to the shops and back in my mind, 10miles is a focused Time Trial!
At every 40km I’d check my average pace against target pace for that sector and give myself a little fuelling treat before cracking on with the next. All making the day go relatively quickly and keeping me on track for the 8pm train booked back to London from Norwich.
So I only had about 50 miles to go. However an extended chat with some curious locals “Say again, how far have you come?!”, meant I only had 3 hours to do it in. This meant a full blown Mark Hirschi puppy paw effort to make my booked train with little time for wrong turns and no time for punctures of which I am pleased to say there were none for the whole trip thanks to the new GP 5000 tyres (danke schon Continental).
Of course we all know that one mad adventure just fuels another and seeing Wheeler messers Kuertz, Couchman, Greer and Evans knock off a cool 400km plus plus the other day hasn’t given Mrs. Miller any comfort that I won’t be planning something equally crazy next. So who’s in for an Audax or two?!
|Gravesend Ferry for Sunrise on The Thames|