Having set up this blog to document my cycling adventures, and then spectacularly failed to post anything other than a howl of pain when I failed in last year’s big challenge, I’m starting 2017 with a resolution to actually write about my cycling adventures (and maybe also some of my adventures off the bike too).
I’m also starting 2017 with another resolution: to challenge myself but also to continually remind myself that this is meant to be fun, there’s no competition and if there is it’s only with myself and no-one else cares!
I am naturally a competitive person. I am also naturally a spectacularly un-athletic person. For years this made doing sport nightmarish: I desperately wanted to win but never had the skill to get anywhere close to doing so, no matter how hard I practised. I’d spend hours practising tennis, then lose 6-0, 6-0 to everyone I played. I’d spend hours after school trying to clear the high jump, or trying to do a one-handed cartwheel, or trying to shoot netball goals, only to have a classmate do whatever I’d tried and failed to do so many times effortlessly in one attempt in the next PE lesson.
One of the reasons I like audax is that it’s a challenge (you have to cycle long distances) but there’s no ‘winner’. You have to finish within the allotted time but the finishing times aren’t published so I can’t torture myself with how much slower I was than everyone else. The challenge is in finishing at all, and that can be a very big challenge at times (as I found out in Scotland last year).
So, I don’t cycle because I want to race – there’d be no point in me doing so as I seem to have no fast-twitch muscle fibres in my entire body! Primarily, I cycle because I want to get outside, because I like exploring and because I like the camaraderie of riding with friends and meeting new people through cycling. At times, I like the solitude of riding alone. And yes, I cycle because I like a challenge and want to push myself.
This year my challenge is likely to be London-Edinburgh-London, another super-long audax. I’ll write about why I decided I wanted to attempt this, after the failure of last year’s Highlands, West Coast and Glens, in a future post. Suffice to say, planning a 1400km audax at the end of July means I need to spend a lot of time between now and then on a bike. Some of that time is undoubtedly going to feel like hard grind. But I’m writing this post to keep reminding myself: this is about adventure. It’s about meeting new people and socialising with old friends. It’s about enjoying the view. It’s about exploring. It’s about all of that and more just as much as it’s about setting goals which I’m not sure I can achieve.
Since I’m yet to have any real cycling adventures in 2017, here are a few pics from the end of 2016. I was in Tennessee visiting my partner’s family and went exploring around some rural roads on her Mom’s sit-up-and-beg bike: