From big rides to short TTs - my 2021 riding

Editor Simon Richardson didn't hit 5,000 miles in 2021, but he did enjoy year in the saddle

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(Image credit: Future / Andy Jones)

Now we've all had time to flick through our year in riding Strava power point, or complete the filling in of our mileage charts, it's time to reflect on our riding for 2021. Did we hit all our targets? Ride as far as we wanted and discover new places? And most importantly, did we enjoy ourselves?

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After all, enjoying the challenge of riding 5,000 miles in a year is more important than actually riding 5,000 miles in a year. 

Sadly, I didn't reach the target. I came up short at 3,820 miles. But in truth, I always knew I'd miss it. With a young family, and my focus being on shorter events, I didn't have the spare time or the need to get in lots of long rides.

Even though I wasn't necessarily chasing the miles there was one point in early August when I was just 16 miles behind the 5,000 mile target, and it did make me think about knuckling down and giving it a go, but then holidays, weddings and reality all hit, and my mileage dropped off a over the last four months of the year.

But this distance is the biggest I've clocked up in over five years, perhaps longer, so I'm happy with that. I was fitter on the bike than I had been in many years, and managed to hit my TT targets at my club events, as I outlined in my Aero on the Cheap feature in the December 30 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine. 

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Club TTs were the main focus of my summer 

(Image credit: Future / Daniel Gould)

But like many of you, the rides I remember the most fondly are the long ones, the days out on a bike, spending hours in the saddle, in the countryside with friends and no pressure to hit power numbers or heart rates. 

Thankfully, working for a cycling magazine does allow me to head off for a ride and call it a days work. Lucky me. My ride in Shropshire last May for a Local Knowledge ride feature (CW June 3) was my first big day out of the year and enjoyable for getting to ride in a new area, while my 130 mile ride to celebrate 130 years of Cycling Weekly was my biggest ride since 2012 and definitely the toughest day on a bike for me in many years.  

But my highlight was my gravel ride down to Dover, tracking the North Downs Way (CW Nov 11). I'd split this ride into two parts, and the second from Caterham in Surrey to Dover harbour on the Kent coast was easily my best day of the year. 

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My off-road outing to the coast - best ride of the year

(Image credit: Future / Daniel Gould)

The route, first opened by Cycling UK a few years back, actually tracks the Pilgrims Way to Canterbury more than the North Downs Way, and it made for a sensational day out. I was in the saddle for almost six-and-a-half hours, barely saw a car and only had to get over two climbs. I couldn't recommend it enough. 

Below are a few of my riding stats. I managed to average 318 miles a month - 416 is needed to hit 5,000 miles, 13 rides each month, and in ten out of the 12 months, rode further than I had in the same month the previous year. I even hit a few power pbs, but seeing as I've never really trained with power before, that's not much of an achievement. 

My 2021 riding stats
Miles ridden3,820.1
Number of rides153
Hours in saddle210h 47m
Total elevation253,853ft
Longest ride130 miles
Biggest month493 (May)
Biggest week170.2 miles

The rest of the CW team were also out riding their bikes, here's how they got on last year. 

Michelle Arthurs Brennan, tech editor
2021 miles ridden: 4,616
Number of rides done: No idea (TrainingPeaks free account doesn't tell me that!)
Hours ridden: 283 hours
Longest ride: 100 miles of South Downs Way
Most enjoyable ride?
100 miles of South Downs Way
Are you happy with your mileage?
In a normal year, I wouldn't be, it's a big step down in distance. But, in a year where I moved counties and spent the last quarter pregnant, I reckon it's not a bad total.
What were your 2021 riding goals and did you hit them?
Every year up until 2021, I've embarked upon January with a goal of having a strong race season. In 2020 that was off the cards, and by 2021 I realised all I wanted to do was enjoy exploring - which, I suppose I did.
What are your 2022 riding goals?
2022 is going to be a very different year to any I've lived before, my only goal is to stay healthy and happy and to ride as much as I'm comfortably able to - which to be honest from a self-care way, is the nicest goal I've ever had.

Vern Pitt, news and features editor
2021 miles ridden: 4,161
Number of rides done: 163
Hours ridden: 255 hours and 13 minutes
Elevation gained: 83,918m 
Longest ride: 185km
Most enjoyable ride?
Probably that really long one above. I had wanted, for no real reason, to beat my longest ride on Strava (I've ridden over 200km in a day before but that pre-dated Strava) so my mate and I rode to Oxford and got caught in a downpour (at the point furthest from home of course) but had a great time. Plus, it was unusually flat for someone who lives in the South Downs, so that made a change.
Are you happy with your mileage?
Around July i thought i might actually break the 5,000mile mark so not really. But I was pretty demotivated over September until December so it got away from me.
What were your 2021 riding goals and did you hit them?
I'm not a big goals kinda person. I guess setting out to ride that one long ride was a goal and I did that, but I missed out on 5,000miles which, after I'd made good progress, I had entertained as possible. I'm also much slower than I was at the start of 2021 so I've actually gotten worse as a rider so I think I'm probably down a bit on satisfaction. 
What are your 2022 riding goals?
Get back to being a lot lighter and a bit faster and then do some big mountains (not sure how I'm going to make that last one happen). I've started the year OK in that respect.

Lake District

Vern has his sights set on bigger mountains in 2022

(Image credit: Future)

Stefan Abram, tech writer
2021 miles ridden: 6,752
Number of rides done: 334
Hours ridden: 389h 23m
Elevation gained: 417,464ft
Longest ride: 200.17mi
Most enjoyable ride of 2021: 
A 98 mile loop that took me to Cape Wrath, the very north-western most point on the island of Great Britain. The route had everything: winding ribbons of deserted tarmac, gravel tracks crossed by herds of deer and quick jaunt on a speed boat to get across the Kyle of Durness.
Are you happy with your mileage? 
Not entirely. As a fair chunk of my training was on the virtual roads of Zwift both my distance travelled and elevation gained are inflated over what they really should be – courtesy of the group draft effect and not being affected by junctions and traffic. Perhaps I could work out an adjusted mileage based on my outdoor data, but I think the fairest comparison is simply just looking at time spent on the bike. My total has ended up being quite a bit lower than what I managed in 2020, but as it still works out at just over 10 hours a week, I’m perfectly happy with that.
What were your 2021 riding goals and did you hit them? 
I can have a tendency to overreach a little when it comes to setting goals, so it has come as quite a surprise that I was able to tick them all off in 2021. Back in February I completed an Everesting in under 12 hours, in July I rode the 200 mile South Downs Double in under 20 hours and, after packing in some races towards the end of the season, I earnt my second cat racing licence.
What are your 2022 riding goals? 
Having moved house in the latter part of 2021, decorating and general DIY look set to continue taking up some of my time for training. As a result, my goals for 2022 have been scaled back to 1. maintaining my second cat licence and 2. putting in a respectable time on the trans-cambrian way, a 100 mile gravel route through the middle of Wales.

Indoor riding

Steve aims to hold 400 watts for a ten this year

(Image credit: Future)

Steve Shrubsall, sub editor
2021 miles ridden: 4,728.2
Number of rides done: 271
Hours ridden: 266h 3m
Elevation gained: 299,646 ft
Longest ride: 100 miles (South Downs Way)
Most enjoyable ride of 2021?
South Downs way
Are you happy with your mileage?
Yes, combined with 1,300 miles of running, although I generally try to hit the 5,000-mile mark
What were your 2021 riding goals and did you hit them?
Target was to complete the SDW (on the fourth time of asking) and complete a 10 mile TT at 400 watts - succeeded and failed respectively
What are your 2022 riding goals?
The 400 watt TT goal still remains,  and more off-road endurance event

Simon Richardson
Simon Richardson

Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. In that time he has written product reviews, features and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. Once an aspiring bike racer himself, he can still be seen at his club's evening races through the summer.