Just before lockdown in 2020 I decided to buy a new mountain bike. Getting it just before the great Covid bike drought. I’d not ridden further than ten miles since my teens when I was into racing; time trials, road racing and track. Before I knew it I was hooked again and in September bought myself a second hand Wilier road bike and subscribed to Cycling Weekly. I’d not bought it in over 30 years. I was soon clocking up 100 miles a week.
I’d seen the CW5000 2020 challenge and decided to sign up for 2021 and raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK at the same time. My dad suffered from dementia with Lewy bodies and passed away in 2017. He was a very keen cyclist, still riding his bike into his 70’s so this was something close to my heart.
it was my Dad that introduced me to competitive cycling in the late 1970’s with an annual trip to watch the Skol Six Day at Wembley. I was only nine at the time but was mesmerised by these guys whizzing around the banked track with Kraftwerk and Jean-Michel Jarre as the soundtrack. I’d never seen or heard anything like it before, and later became a big fan of going fast on a bike and electronic music.
Three years later I was a member of the Haverhill Wheelers and doing weekly evening club time trials, track meets at Harlow Velodrome and weekend racing at Eastway in London. This continued until I was 16 and in that time I raced around most of south east England at various road races and crits. I competed at the 1985 Leicester National Track Championship’s and made a trip to Bocholt in Germany to compete in a 3-day road race. I was clocking up to 300 miles a week before I gave it all up at the age of 17 when discovered clubbing and girls.
Moving on 35 years I thought ‘I can do this 5000 mile challenge.’ I had a new road bike, I’ll give up smoking as my New Years resolution and give it a shot. I was already doing on average 100 miles a week, feeling fitter and losing weight, over a stone so far.
It’s not been all plain sailing though. One day in the middle of January I set off along the coast on a 50 mile route I’ve been doing regularly. It was a lovely crisp sunny Sunday morning, but as soon a I headed inland I hit freezing fog and within 30 minutes I started to loose the feeling in my fingers. I thought I would make it home, but after 30 miles I had to call my wife and ask her to come and pick me up as I was having difficulty braking. That evening I was online, looking for the perfect winter gloves. When It comes to cycle clothing I learnt from a young age that it pays to get the best you can afford.
On another ride I managed to brake my chain that I’d only fitted a week before. Luckily my multi-tool has a chain tool on it and despite my work as a bike mechanic when I was 19 it still took 15 minutes and a lot of swearing before I was back on two wheels. The black grease on my fingers wiped off on the inside of those lovely new gloves I’d just bought.
Despite the cold of February I still managed to put in 100+ miles a week and completed the challenge for this month with a Valentines day ride with 2754ft elevation. The dry weather has also allowed me to test ride my new Basso Astra that i’ve been building with Campag Chorus 12 speed over the last few weeks. Time and money well spent as I completed my fastest 50 mile ride in over 30 years. Very pleasing considering how windy it was.
I do have a turbo trainer, but I’ve only ridden 10 miles on it this year. I recently got a speed sensor and rigged it up for a Zwift demo session. I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll be subscribing too, I’d rather be braving the elements. As long as it’s not pouring with rain when I set off I don’t mind, but being right next to the coast it’s the wind that can be problem. I can usually tell when it’s bad by the size of the waves I can see from our bedroom window. We are less that half a mile from Brighton sea-front.
After a dry (drink free) January and no craving for a cigarettes and over £800 raised for Alzheimer’s Research UK I’d say it’s going pretty well. I’ve been raising peoples awareness to my fundraising mainly through Facebook. I hope more people will be giving when I’ve done a few thousand miles, as I don’t think they believe I’ll do it. But I’m very pleased with £800 for the first month.