The embers of the fireworks had turned to ash. Gone were the ooohs and aaaaahs under the etchesketch firework illuminations and the celebrations of Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016. Not just another day but a brand new year.
Old Father time moves forward bringing new challenges, eras and experiences to all of us wherever we are on this wonderous planet – including of course those outside its Hemisphere looking after Tim Peake.
The value of a new year is the opportunity to review, assess and see opportunities and challenges rather than drifting on doing the same old, same old. Time for change, if change is necessary.
2015 finished in a somewhat unhealthy fashion for me – not forgetting that eight months off the bike has taken its toll on my waistline. Power to weight ratio shot to pieces, my fitness levels are pretty poor.
Setting targets that are somewhat far outside your comfort zone mean you can really challenge yourself, push yourself and haul yourself to achieve things you never thought you would. For me to even contemplate London Edinburgh London in 2017 is definitely off the scale but equally something at least to work towards.
Eventually dusting down my Garmin in the hope of putting some mileage, albeit small and slow, it was a perfect start to the year to find myself in the excellent company of fellow London Brompton Club members – even if I was on the wrong bike.
Reflecting on the opportunities 2016 can bring me if I apply myself were in my mind as I sat on the train heading to Richmond upon Thames – a place that still transports me to Richmond, Virginia and that fantastic moment that Lizzie Armitstead became a world champion in 2015. Todays ride was the other end of the spectrum and the concept of racing was off the agenda.
The first person to greet me was a London Brompton Club member who was recovering from a lurgy that meant he could only join us for a bit of the ride rather than the whole thing.
As always, it turned into a bit of a party outside Costa as we grew and grew in numbers with people coming in from all over the place – the furthest from Oxford. Once our numbers reached 19, I volunteered to be the Tail End Charlie and we headed our way along the high street down to the river path.
Conversations of layers were the top topic – it was 4 degrees and I was happy to be wearing my Berghaus climbing boots and two pairs of cashmere socks.
Several of the group had been absent for what seemed like months. In reality it was me who had been absent and it was the perfect way to catch up with peeps.
A slipping chain caused a moment of review but soon we were on our way again, gently pootling along the river. The planning of this pootle was not about food but about daylight.
Every so often we regrouped and swapped snacks. Knowing that William Curley was closed, I had already stocked up on New Year surprises – chocolate covered orange pieces which was excellent for bartering. Soon I was the proud owner of a Scotch egg which are apparently perfect power food and something to be added to the LEL planning list.
Cycling with people who have ridden from Berlin to London and others who audax themselves across the hilliest parts of the country is completely inspirational. The magical thing about both the London Brompton Club and The Fridays rides is that no ego is involved. It’s never a competition it’s about the now and the you as in how are you? Very humbling, peeps.
As we reached Richmond Park I was sure we would be going along the flat bit in the middle and was a bit shocked to see the leader take us up the main drag. Hill climbing is going to have to move up the agenda, sooner rather than later.
Arriving back in Richmond Town Centre, we dispersed in different directions and four of us headed to Whole Foods Market. Roast Sunday Lunch on a Friday was absolutely delicious although the bazaar moment of holding a plate of hot food and joining a long queue with all the other shoppers and their baskets of groceries was a little bit surprising – not least because the thought of dripping hot gravy into the backs of peoples shoes was not something in which I wished to participate. A joke in the bakery section, however, soon put a smile on our faces!
The New Years Day 2016 ride is over. 22.74 miles in 2hrs 30 minutes giving a very gentle rolling average of 9.09mph followed by 5.56 miles in 28.13 at a rolling average of 11.82 mph. It is a little telling that my legs ache quite a lot, even after stretching. Clearly, I have a long way to go, but at least it is a start, made very special by being in such mighty fine company.
Whatever your cycling challenges are for 2016, it really is true to say that the moment you are on your bike you are already overtaking the person sitting on the sofa!
Thank you peeps for a great day, I look forward to the next one. In the meantime I will try and learn how to use my camera as I have taken the most blurriest shots I’ve ever seen.