2018: Resolutions and Resilience

By Richard Jones

A week or so before the end of 2018, I was asked about my New Year’s resolutions for cycling in the year ahead. Now, I habitually abstain from this sort of thing, mainly because I have such a terrible memory that I can never remember what I’ve resolved to do.

However, one thing I have done for some years is log my rides in a — dare I say it — spreadsheet, just so I can see how many miles I've done and where I’ve ridden over the year. I usually aim to achieve 1,000 miles of mountain biking per year, which is 19-odd miles a week — the sort of distance the average ‘weekend warrior’ mountain biker is likely to do anyway. However, being the sort of accident-and-injury-prone klutz that I am, I have only actually achieved this target once previously.

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Typically, last year, I had the usual muscle injuries sustained from not stretching or warming up properly (or at all to be honest) before riding, that my ever-ageing body objects to. So, I got to December and could see that I still had 140 miles to go if I was to make that 1000-mile target. Outside the rain fell and the wind blew, and I thought, ‘no chance of that then’. But then some vaguely uplifting music filtered into my brain and, like a scene from Chariots of Fire, I thought, ‘no, I can do this!’

Yet sometimes the fates are there to conspire against you. After a few night rides and a decent few miles the first weekend of December — and with time off work to come at Christmas — I was confident I’d make it. Then my dropper-post broke and, not having a spare seat-post, I was looking a bit stuck.

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Nevermind, I thought, I have a 25-year-old, rarely used Dawes hardtail in the shed, so I thought I’d just use that. Until, on my first day commuting to work on it, I got a puncture on the way home. It was dark and raining and I realised, after getting the tyre off, the inner tube out and a new one ready to install, that my pump was in my other backpack! Meaning a two mile push home… and some swearing. Puncture fixed, the next attempt saw the chain snap and I didn’t have a link for it. Luckily this was at the top of the hill from my house, so I rolled back down, jumped on the road bike and got to work that way.

I was starting the feel somewhat cursed, but my replacement dropper-post arrived (stuff Christmas, I was spending my money fixing my bike!) and my mountain bike was back up and running. Several rides and some miles later, and with three days of the year left, I still had nearly 40 miles to go. I set out on 29th December with no plan, and rode, and rode, and rode. Much later on, exhausted, I rolled back into home and, after checking my mileage, I was still four miles short of the target! So, on New Year’s Eve I took a nice, short little local tootle, and my 1000-mile target was achieved.

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Which brings me to 2019 and the setting of new targets. What do I want to do in terms of cycling this year? What was most interesting looking back on a year’s worth of riding was the realisation that I rode almost exclusively in the Peak District, bar a number of ventures to an old stomping ground at Cannock Chase. So, while I want to hit that 1000-mile target again — and I’m so lucky to live on the doorstep of a fantastic place to ride — I really want to get out to other parts of the UK, get into some of the other fifteen National Parks, and get out into Scotland and Wales. Maybe even head to the Alps for some lift-assisted riding.

I was pleased that I had the resilience to keep going in December and hit that target, but motivation to ride is readily available just by looking at a map, at all those miles of bridleways, by-ways and trails that this country is riddled with. Maybe the resolution I should be making is to improve the maintenance of both bike and body so that I can keep getting out there!

Originally published 30/01/19

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