We’re well in to January and this is my first post of the year. So a belated Happy New Year to you, dear reader, wherever you are.
Before I get onto to tonight’s post I want to invite you to read the first of a two-part piece I’ve written for the blog of Joanna Aislinn, entitled Risotto and the Hero’s Journey. The second part includes a recipe of this classic dish, something a little bit different. For my readers in the Northern hemisphere, this is great Winter food!
I’ve been pondering what to write for some time, since the end of last year in fact. I even wrote one long piece only to ditch it. The last week of the year was dominated by Christmas and the Festive 500, a challenge promoted by Rapha, the cycling apparel company on Strava to ride 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. I ended up with just over 600 and a day to spare which was a big surprise as I’d only recently started crossing the 300km mark for my weekly rides.
I’ve got to say, I was pretty chuffed. In a year which had plenty of challenges, the Festive 500 topped a great year on the bike, riding further, higher and faster than ever before. It’s appropriate to mention this now because at the beginning of 2012 my goal was to be consistent in my efforts. I wanted to average about 100km per week. I ended up with an average of just under 160km. That was the main thing, and I was. I only missed 4 weeks of riding in total and they were from serious flu and a couple of falls.
Biggest month – December – 1206km
Longest ride – 201km
Centuries (rides over 100km) – 15
If you want to check out some of my rides in detail visit my profile on Strava.
With the start of the new year, I’ve been thinking about my cycling goals for the year. This is a bit difficult to do with a young family. Really, I think I’ll be very satisfied if I can keep up the level of effort. I have a hunger for it now so whenever I have a decent gap, an hour or more, I want to get out there. If I can get in between 250-300km in an average week I can maintain the form I’ve got.
I have some numeric targets (sub 20 min on Kinglake, 200,000 vertical metres, and generally improving all my climb times and rankings). I’ve made good progress on this already getting into the top 10 for most of the shorter sharp climbs. But it’s more than that. I’m wary of making goals that just create pressure from the outset. This sort of defeats the purpose in a way. Rather, my thinking is that my goals are inspired by the dream of doing some really great rides in places like the French Alps and the Pyrenees, something that excites me and motivates me. It’s also about staying fit and healthy, and building a foundation of health – a lifestyle that will sustain me well into my old age. If my son wants to ride in his twenties and thirties, I want to be able to ride with him. I can’t think of anything better than introducing him to my favourite country lanes, stopping for berry pancakes and coffee in Healesville, or a coffee at one of my favourite stops. Here I’m always inspired by the older riders, guys in their 60s and 70s and older doing rides most people in their twenties would find extremely challenging. These are some of my heroes, more than the elite athletes in a way, because they’re really embracing life. They’re strong and healthy, and usually happy, human beings. Really, what more can we want?
With the focus on getting myself ready for my dream rides and healthy lifestyle other things follow. I’m losing lots of weight and greatly improving my core strength and fitness and I have a focus that has a positive influence on the way I eat and treat myself generally. I wanted to mention this because so many people, make weight loss a goal at this time of year. I’m all for being a healthy weight, but as a goal it sucks. It’s that simple. In the long run it usually fails as well. Our goals are better set around building a healthy lifestyle and what we can achieve with our health, whether it’s climbing mountains, or just having the energy to play for hours with your kids or grandchildren. And I mean lifestyle in the most holistic sense. For me riding works on all kinds of levels. It keeps me fit, gets me out into nature, I can have fun, get a sense of achievement, social interaction, stress relief – the list goes on. So for me it’s also a very time efficient way of getting all of this, rather than trying to schedule in separate activities for each – who has that much spare time? Not me, and I’m guessing you don’t either.
Getting the mix right usually takes some effort and a bit of trial and error to find what works for you. Having this as a general focus is going to serve you more in the long run especially as we need to be able to adapt to changing conditions and circumstances, whether it’s the demands of work and family or maybe injury. So I invite, no I challenge you, to join me in making 2013 the year you make choices that will set you up for a healthier, happier you. Everyone, most of all you, will thank you for it.