Last post of the year

My training log for 2012, according to Strava, stands at 5,713km and 292 hours out on the road. At just over 100km a week, that’s not a huge mileage compared to what really dedicated riders might put in. But at probably five or six times the distance I’ve covered in previous years, it does represent a pretty big increase for me.

There’s a lot more hidden beneath that headline number though, as anyone who has followed this blog over the past twelve months will have realised. This time last year, I had invested in my first decent set of road wheels, and with them had managed to put in my first sub-4 for a 90+km race. Beyond that though, my cycling aspirations were hardly different from any previous year: stay fit; ride a good Argus; and then do some mountain biking through the winter until the road season started again. And then I stumbled across a short forum post on The Hub, and everything changed.

I could hardly have imagined reading that post would lead to such an active and memorable year of cycling, which included me spec’ing and building a complete new bike, joining a cycle club, undertaking my two longest rides to-date (The One Tonner and the DC), and finally crossing the line of Die Burger with an even bigger smile than last year’s sub-4 when I stopped the clock at under 3 hours.  this year, whereas the previous year. None of those had been remotely in my cycling goals for the year when 2012 started, which I guess bears strong testamony that even in this digital multimedia age, the power of words to inspire and motivate remain as strong as ever. Those few short sentences in an inocuous forum posting literally changed the course of my year.

Hidden within the wonderful cycling moments from the last year, there are also quite a few smaller, but no less significant events. Since Jolly has been finished, I’ve only suffered cramps on one brief stretch of one ride, and that was after pushing myself way above my training levels. I always felt that my annoyingly persistent cramps were a sign of a general lack of fitness and practice, and I’m happy to say that seems to have been proven to be the case. Training harder, coupled with a bike that fits me properly, seems to have banished that particular suffering to the darkest depths of over exertion. Nutrition is something I’ve continued to learn and understand better, and specifically the need to look at what I’m eating when off the bike, as well as making sure I have the right sort of fuel when out riding. Taking more care to up my calorie intake during more intense training periods, and especially in the recovery hour after a tough ride also helped eliminate a bad sequence of bonking on rides, at least for now anyhow.

I had hoped to get one last ride in for the year today, but family commitments and a nasty chest cough sadly saw me scrapping that idea and canceling my alarm clock. So here I am at my desk instead, remembering some of the highlights of a great year of cycling, and looking forward to what lies ahead in 2013. Certainly, everything that I have learned about cycling and myself this year makes me feel confident that when LEL entries open on 5th Jan, I’ll be at my PC ready to try and book my place. Well as confident as anyone can be about entering a 1,400km ride having completed nothing longer than 202km previously.

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