2017 Goals

2016 was an epic cycling year for me. The main aim of the year was the completion of the inaugural running of the Tour of the Highlands Sportive, which is an awesome three day, 300+ mile event with a ton of climbing. I also aimed to hit my highest ever annual mileage cycling. I planned to commute on the bike 3-4 days a week, depending on weather to get 15 miles each commute day, plus a 100km+ ride every Sunday with the club. Unless the weather prevented it. At least 100 miles a week on average through the year.

I was doing great, right up until I did a ride to the coast with B&DCC. That ride was too flat. Not enough hills. I got bored of cycling. 120 miles in I’d had enough with another 20 to go. I had plenty of power left to ride. I was just fed up of actually riding. That led me to deciding to cut back the cycling for a week or two, then start training to do some hill climbs when the season started.

I love riding up hills. That’s my thing. I know that. A big long challenging flat ride is ok, but I’ve done the coast and back a few times so I knew I could do it. It wasn’t a new challenge. I’ve done a 200+ mile flat sportive. That was tough. But I’ve done 200 miles. I know I can just keep riding, if I fuel right. It’s boring. I need the hills!

So the idea was to hit the hill climbs. I know I’m not going to be competitive. I’m not interested in proper structured training, I just like to explore, enjoy and ride upwards. But I’ve done a couple of hill climbs before, they’re a bit of fun. It was something to aim for to get me excited about riding again.

Then I got knocked off my bike by a dog on my Commute the day before my family holiday. I broke my collar bone quite badly, requiring surgery. I did get back on the indoor trainer as soon as I could, to keep the fitness, but it was 4 months before I was fit to ride outside again. This kind of destroyed my cycling year, and got me banned from cycle commuting, as it’s the second time I’ve ended up in hospital as a result.

I need a goal for 2017, something to keep me motivated and excited to ride. I always ride year round, except in the dangerous weather. Rule #5 and Rule #9 are really important to me. So I generally keep going, but I just need something to look for to help that.

We’ve got another three day tour planned for the year, that’s going to be great, riding in Shropshire with most of the group I rode TOTH with and a couple of other good cycling friends. But that’s fairly early in the year (end of May) so I need something to keep me going all year.

I’ve been keen on Simon Warren’s book 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, and the follow up Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs for some time. I’ve now ridden 18 of them over the years I’ve been riding. As I live near the Peak District, there’s a good cluster I’ve ridden many times.

So my aim this year is to ride as many of the 100 Greatest Climbs I can in the year. Not just looking to ride ones I’ve never done, but to get as many in as I can. So, I am to complete all the Midlands climbs. That’s easy, I can ride to them all from home. There’s a few Yorkshire ones I can get to from home yet to tick off also. The trip to Shropshire includes a couple. So now I’m looking around to see which other hills I can get to in a day trip with the car. Some of the Lake District hills to revisit, and hopefully the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors could get a visit. I’m also looking at using the train to get from home to somewhere, then ride up some of the hills on the way back.

It’s got me dead excited!

Double Brutal

It’s the time of year again to go Double Brutal.

That’s doing the Sheff Rec Strines Challenge route, 50 miles and loads and loads of climbing taking in some of the Tour De France roads (the wrong way actually) AND a bonus extra 50 miles riding to it. Check the original post from last year for details.

The Strines route loops round, loads of points you can drop out and ride into Sheffield if the weather turns really nasty in winter. Or your legs break. Or your mind breaks.

I need to update the route a bit, but, being an ultra-tough ride, there are many options.

I’m planning to start at Eckington, because I don’t want to ride in the wrong direction to get to Bolsover start. From there we ride through Door etc to get to Strines. This means there’s a good meeting point at Damflask Reservoir for those who want to pick up just the brutal 50 in Strines.

Yes I did say Just.

2015 Epic Training

2015 is looking like a high-mileage year for me and many others. For me, there’s the Wales in a Day in September and a 206 mile ride in Newark in July. Plus probably a Coast to Coast in a Day and a lap of the Peak District.

Which means I need to do lots of long rides regularly to build the stamina and fitness back to peak for that. So, I’m going to be out as many Sundays as possible for at least 50 miles, and need to make sure that every month includes at least one epic.

Here’s the plan:

  • January – Lincoln Blast – just under 100 miles. Flat.
  • February – Double Brutal – Lots of opt outs if the weather changes, but 100 miles of intense climbing.
  • March – ?
  • April – ?
  • May – Cleethorpes Run?
  • June – Peak Epic++
  • July – 205 mile Sportive
  • August – Lap of the Peaks
  • September – Wales in a Day

Generally, the mileage is high, but the cafe stops are low. Because there’s a lot of miles to get in. Self-sufficiency is important, I always carry:

  • 2-3 inners
  • pump
  • tyre levers
  • cable ties
  • multi-tool with chain breaker
  • Speed Links for the chain
  • Energy Gels
  • Flapjack
  • Phone, ID and Cash

With this, can handle pretty much anything that happens on a ride, without a problem.

B&DCC Sparrow Fart Routes

The Sparrow Fart ride is a regular Saturday morning 7:30am ride organised by Bolsover & District Cycling Club. It’s about a 15mph average, hilly ride. Usually about 2 hours of riding over 30 miles. Which then can give the rest of the day for you family/life.

I’ve linked from this post all the 10 rotated routes as I’ve re-drawn them on Strava (since Garmin Connect now makes getting the rides onto your satnav a pain) and had no better way of putting a reference list together (as my account on the official site is awaiting moderation).

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. Four
  5. Five
  6. Six
  7. Seven
  8. Eight
  9. Nine
  10. Ten

The following routes are suggestions for new options:

  1. Cutthorpe and Abney
  2. Some Nasty Bits

Some suggestions for longer Grand Fondo work:

  1. A Taste of Strines
  2. Cat & Fiddle
  3. Holme & Snake

Double Brutal

Last year, the Sheff Rec Cycle Club announced they were going to run their usual club annual challenge ride as an open sportive with limited places. The route is a tough 50 miles of repeated climbing in the Strines area near Sheffield. It covers ground that the Tour De France Stage 2 2014 will cover.

You can see the information they published about the event here.

Frankly, we were too tight to pay the entry fee to ride the sportive, especially since it was only 50 miles. So we decided we’d just cycle out to Strines one Sunday and do the route ourselves.

Unfortunately, that meant that we were adding an additional 50 miles onto the route, and a considerable amount more climbing to get over the hills to Strines.

Thus was born Double Brutal.

We thought it would make a good March landmark ride as part of our C2C Training Ride series. The route is good, because it loops round Strines a lot, which means if the weather turns really nasty, or it’s too tough, it’s easy for people to drop out and head back to the start.

Strines is also quite sheltered, so if the weather is a bit off, we won’t be constantly blasted by wind like we were on the Lincoln Blast.

We’ve improved the route this year, so it’s not just out there, challenge and back, but puts a bit of interesting Edge of the Peak District Fun on the return, and called it Double Brutal – Redux.

This ride is brutal. It’s 100 miles, with over 13,000ft of climbing. That’s 160km with 4,000m of climbing. Almost the same ascent as the C2C.

We’re planning on riding the route on Saturday the 15th of March. A Saturday not our usual Sunday just this once. We’ll likely be starting from Eckington at 8am. There’s the possibility of picking others up at Bradfield as we hit the start of the main Strines Challenge route for those who feel they’d rather have their Brutal in a single measure.

And this video should give you a good idea of what it’s like, just look at those silky smooth surfaced empty roads with beautiful views and weather…

The Lincoln Blast

Sunday sees the Hill’s Angels hosting a C2C Training Milestone ride. The aim is to ride 100 miles, flat not hilly, because by now, if you’re going to C2C in June, you should be able to ride 100 miles, flat, not hilly. 🙂

So, the plan is to head out to Lincoln, climb Michaelgate, one of the Hundred Greatest Cycling Climbs, have a pint, and cycle back.

It’s going to be windy 🙁