(almost) Every year, I have put down my thoughts about the year ahead partly to bring them together and partly to motivate me!
2015 was an interesting year, it actually had some of the lowest mileage covered with just over 12000km done. But, quality over quantity any day and I had amazingly managed to ride on three continents (touring in Thailand, lots in the UK, a bit in France and a bit of mountain biking in California).
So, what about 2016? Well, firstly, for better or worse, my work looks a little quieter than last year. In the key late spring months of April/May, I was so busy delivering the largest project I have ever dealt with, that cycling took quite a back seat and this led to me crawling around PBP qualifiers lacking true fitness. Business is good this coming year, but not quite as over the top as 2015 (though I am still working on the next phases of the big project and it's keeping me on my toes!).
I have two personal goals and a third plan for a tandem tour in Galicia in late summer. We've toured in Asturias, particularly the Picos de Europa and loved it. So, we'd like to head a little further along the coast and enjoy a couple of weeks of leisurely touring.
In terms of personal goals, it's not that I am bored with Audax, but I want to explore different ideas. Two rides I have done have made me realise there's much more possible.
The 24hr made me realise what can be done on a bike, riding 600km in a day sounds impossible, but it's not and there are those that can ride a lot further. But it proved I can ride fast and not spend much time off the bike when needs be.
The Scottish 1300 also made me begin to think about what self-sufficiency is. Without much support and in quite remote countryside, we were truly on our own and I loved it.
Last autumn, I spent an evening at the Look Mum No Hands cafe and watched a film called Inspired to Ride about the TransAmerica Bike Race.
Well, it certainly inspired me. I'd considered the Transcontinental Race before (across Europe in a couple of weeks), but this film just got to me and I know I want to do this race. Let's not beat about the bush, I'm not going to be winning it (the record being just under 18 days for the near 7000km event!), but I think I can do it in a respectable time (plucking a number out of the sky, 25 days - 280km a day).
I see this is as a 2017/18 project - there's some stuff I need to learn and there's the small matter of sitting down with my business partners and saying I want 5-6 weeks out. My wife is surprisingly keen and supportive! Partly as being American, there's an opportunity to visit her family etc. and mainly because it starts where the Goonies was filmed!
So, I plan to ride approximately 2700km in 9-10 days to start to see what I can do. Totally self supported and with nothing booked on the way (I will carry a sleeping bag and bivi bag and mix that with hotels etc. where possible). I like the idea of leaving home and riding somewhere and back; no messing about with planes and boxing up bikes etc.
The plan is to ride to the south of France and back (turning around somewhere near Montpelier). The route will be quite tough in places. I plan to ride over Ventoux on the way down and back through the Massif Centrale. It looks quite demanding and the ascent looks to be in the order of 32000m (in a week and a half!).
Will I make it? Who knows. But getting the miles in this winter is key. I suspect I will find out quite a lot about myself doing it.
The Mille Pennines 1000km sounded fun. I've ridden the organiser's (Andy) Pendle 600, which was a very memorable and tough weekend on a bike, so when he came up with this, I thought I better give it a go.
It looks like it will be a wonderful three days of tough climbing in some of the most beautiful parts of northern England and southern Scotland.
If I get the miles in and manage my French trip, I am rather hoping this will be very achievable!
Finally, 2016 will see me debut as an Audax organiser. I have 200 and 110km events planned for August 2016. It's been quite exciting just getting the route together. The top half uses the roads I use a lot, but the bottom half started to use roads I didn't know so well. I have now ridden the entire route (on a very, very wet January day with floods and all manner of rain to deal with) and I think it will be a cracker.
And that's it for now. Stay safe through winter, but get the miles in and all should fall into place by spring!