I love numbers
As such I tend to set myself targets, create spreadsheets to monitor progress and scour articles about gear ratios, rotational mass, power to weight ratios and other arcane things. Needless to say, none of this affects my personal performance and I potter along as before.As a result of all this my favourite essential cycling accessory is probably my Garmin 800 which provides loads of data to keep me out of mischief for hours.
Having taken up cycling only recently, about 5 years ago now, and being an old age pensioner, I do have to accept that my ability on a bike is only going to go one way...downwards.
The act of retiring, and the receipt of a pension, gives one a crystal clear perception of one's own mortality. The annuity bean counters make an estimate of one's life expectancy and payout accordingly, in my case they placed their bets on my lasting until I was 73 years old, anything beyond that then I am winning! My son tells me to be more optimistic and so for the purpose of target setting I assumed I would live until I was 80 years old. So, being a cycling novice I decided, at 60, upon a distance target of 2000 miles ( 3200 km ) a year with the aim of reducing this by 100 miles per year to allow for growing infirmity. This then acts as the main yearly goal and for this year that translates into a minimum distance of 2400 km or 1500 miles .
Having so far ridden 7030 km and climbed over 50000m then this first target has been achieved.
My second aim was to explore more of our countryside on my bike. Here I count this as a partial success. I have been invited to join in with other cycling groups in Cheshire, Shifnall, Leicester and a lung busting ride in Derbyshire. At all the places I have made new friends and been made exceedingly welcome despite them all having to travel at a much slower pace than they are used to in order to accommodate me. Thanks go to Mark, Andrew, David and Scott for letting me tag along on their rides. I was hoping to do a short cycle tour but in this I failed, not wanting to cycle alone and being unable to find others who had the same desire.
One of the main reasons for being wary of cycle touring was my lack of ability as a bike mechanic and a fear of breaking down in the middle of nowhere. During the year I have tried to address this deficiency and regular readers will have seen my efforts as a Novice Bike Mechanic.
Not having been a lifelong cyclist, I do not possess the fund of stories of the trials and tribulations of times past when all the hills were steeper, the wind was windier, the rain was wetter and carbon was a thing confined to pencils. Indeed climatic and geographical change seems to have happened in the 40 years prior to my getting on a bike! One of the things I did learn from these tales of yore was that "Steel is Forever "and that Mercians were the Prince of Cycles. And so the highlight of my year was in obtaining my own handmade, personally fitted Mercian Vincitore Special on my 65th birthday in March. This is an example of engineering beauty and excellence and draws spectators wherever I go.
As my interest in cycling has grown I have become aware of the competitive side to this sport. Whilst I am now too old to take part, I have enjoyed watching the sleek riders on their aerodynamic machines as they compete in local Time Trials, probably the purest form of cycle racing. At the other end of the spectrum I have revelled in the mud spattered and bedraggled riders as they attempt the Cyclo Cross challenges that our autumn and winter can throw at them. Muffled up against the driving wind and rain I am glad that I AM now too old to participate in this peculiar form of personal pain.
Perhaps my greatest achievement this year was to undertake Wiggy's Challenge. Wiggy was an excellent and enthusiastic cyclist who for a variety of reasons had fallen into the state of becoming a " Lapsed Cyclist ". His challenge was to resolve this problem by undertaking to ride every single day for a week and he asked others to join him on this venture and share their experiences. I wrote an article about this and as a result of the Challenge I have encouraged many others to get on their abandoned bikes and ride again. It mattered not how far, how fast or how often; the important thing was to cycle again and experience the joy and companionship such an activity can bring. So far I know of about two dozen people who have returned to cycling from me telling them this story.
Finally, this year I learnt something about the importance of nutrition to a cyclist. Whilst there are many tomes written about this and experts a plenty; at my level I have discovered it is all about CAKE. Being the generous sort of guy that I am, I wanted to share this knowledge with others and so have produced a little pdf booklet entitled " Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success ". If you would like a copy you can get it from :-