2016 – What a year! So much happened, good and bad.

The targets for 2016 were put in place at the end of 2015 and after a great year on the bike I am very happy to have achieved them all. The years go by so quickly, but it does seem a long time ago since the first ride on 1st January.

There have been many ups and downs this year, mostly due to the hills I kept putting in front of myself. I have enjoyed this year a lot, the dedication in the early months to get the core strength up and running early, rides in the wind, rain and hail. Three times I got caught in hail this year and each time it hurt, like being stung by 100 wasps simultaneously. Mad rides in the freezing cold over ice covered roads, which in hindsight isn’t a clever thing to do, one tumble and a broken bone could have put a rather large and greasy spanner into the training.

For once I managed to get through the first 4 months without getting a cold or chest infection, March being my nemesis month in the past. It was all going so well until I hit the first major ride of the year, The Dragon Ride. I ended up with a bad back and feeling very unwell, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. It was a gruelling ride, much harder than 2015, due to the problems. However I did it and I was pleased with my form, considering the issues on the day.

It was then just one month to go to L’Etape Du Tour, in early July, so I made sure that I got myself better, managed the back as best I could and made sure the training tapered in the correct manor. All my hard work was nearly scuppered by a broken free wheel spring on the day. Luckily for me it broke on the last climb and not before, otherwise it could have been curtains. A very hot day in the saddle was rewarded with the finish line and another great ride with Ian Hayden. We prepared ourselves so much better in 2016 than in 2015 and for me this paid dividends, having missed a cut off in 2015. As they say, you learn more from your failures than your successes and that was very true in this case.

At the end of August I had my last main ride of the year, Rise Above the Mark Cavendish sportive. This was THE best day on a bike I have had! Despite yet again feeling unwell as I headed towards Wales again! must be the Welsh air, the ride was completed. Then, simply the best day unfolded as I got to meet Mark Cavendish himself, a dream come true for me. Not just once, but twice, he even signed my helmet! No, the one I wear for cycling! This will be placed in a display case, very soon.

With the season mostly over, there was just one more event left to go, a team time trial around Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. This was an amazing day shared with club members, Ian Hayden, Chris Wilson, Adrian Watkins, Martin Howes, Mat Jessop, Ian Turner and Steve Shepherd. This was a dream come true for me, having been to Silverstone on numerous occasions before to watch Formula 1 races, my brother race single seaters and myself have a single seater experience, riding a bike on that flawless tarmac was amazing. We sincerely hope to go again in 2017.

It has been nice just tapering out over the last few months, having hit my initial target of 4,500 miles for the year in November and climbing 200,000ft in early December. However as the miles kept ticking I got close to the 5,000 mark and put in a final push to finish the year on 5,008 miles and 207,150ft.

It has been a fantastic year for me on the bike and what makes it even better is that I had to balance it all with being a fairly new parent. Our little boy James is so adorable, Emma and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He got his very first bike at Christmas and already seems to like it quite a bit!

2017 will be a very different year for me as I target different events. I’m not one to constantly aim at the same thing, I do like to mix it up a bit and achieve different things. I will return to the mountains in time, just not next year. I really enjoy the challenge of training the body to take on the different targets, so early 2017 will see me with a different schedule to 2016.

I will blog about 2017 and the events I take on as they unfold.

Thank you to all my family and supporters, especially Emma. Thank you to all my cycling friends, I have enjoyed the rides this year and look forward to more in 2017.

A big thank you to Ian Hayden for sharing many of my rides and being part of the memories, it’s been a great year, we have more to do next year!