As with all years I like to start off with some aims; some challenges. Something to achieve and something to also look forward to. Back in January I considered myself a bit of a beginner on the road; I hadn’t yet ridden 100 km in a single ride. So to sit here now thinking back over 2015 is pretty pleasing.
That 100 km ceiling soon came tumbling down; the Yaxley Riders Reliability Ride on January 18th brought 96.5 km in preparation and the Wiggle No Excuses sportive on February 21st allowed me to smash the target with 129.7 of those lovely kilometres! So the next obvious aim was to break 100 miles and the opportunity for that came along in April with the Yaxley Riders annual ride out to Hunstanton for fish & chips; 243.5 km later and I’d not only broken 100 miles but both 200 km and 150 miles in one sunny Sunday.
With some enjoyable long rides under my wheels my focus switched to the new ‘Tour of Cambridgeshire‘, my first closed road event. In the run up it was also announced that the organisers had secured UWCT Qualifer status. This meant that as well as riding my first closed road event, I was now also riding a qualifier for the Amateur World Championships Road Race to be held later in the year in Denmark. Of course I hadn’t expected to come close to the top 25% in my age category required for qualification but with a bit of luck and a lot of effort somehow I did indeed make the cut.
Fast forward 3 months and there I was lined up alongside a French chap and a bunch of South Africans, just along from a gaggle of other Brits in Aalborg, Denmark waiting for a rolling start behind the pace car. Now, I’d love to tell of a fairy tale ending where I ended up on the podium recieving a world champion’s rainbow stripped jersey but my year wasn’t quite as amazing as that. Instead I took away a fantastic experience, spending as long as possible in the main peloton, riding at speed, elbow to elbow with other riders. It was certainly the highlight of my cycling in 2015. And a big thanks to Gilson, the company I work for who sponsored my World Championship trip, making it possible.
So what else happened in 2015? I went away to the Peak District on my first cycling club weekend away with Yaxley Riders; another awesome weekend in September but for very different reasons than Denmark! I also did my usual 3 day mountain biking trek, through a national park, wild camping along the way with my mate Malcolm. This year’s national park was Dartmoor, which provided plenty of mountain biking fun and some of the best camping spots of any of my treks so far.
So a very pleasing 2015, even if that had been it, which of course it wasn’t. Hills. I’ve climbed a few of these this year too. I still don’t have the 100 UK Climbs book, but I’ve been notching off the climbs in anticipation; 2015 saw the conquest of Mennock Pass (#63), Curbar Edge (#35), Rowsley Bar (#34), Jackson Bridge (#42), Rosedale Chimney (#55) and The Cat & Fiddle (#70). I also managed to ride up and over Holme Moss in my 17T sprocket during the Yaxley Riders Peak District weekend away after a mechanical failure left me with no other gears.
On a completely different cycling experience I also spent a session on the London Olympic Velodrome getting my first exposure to ‘track’. My first time on a fixed gear bike, my first time on the boards of the velodrome. An experience that I’m very gald to have had and something that I’d be very happy to repeat when the next opportunity arises.
As part of the whole Denmark trip, 2015 also saw me get my first British Cycling race license too. So I thought I’d try to get some other use out of it while I could, so I did my first ever Criterium race too as a Category 4 newbie. Something that I may very well repeat in 2016. But 2016 is another year and with all I’ve done in 2015 there isn’t time to go into 2016 here as well, so I’ll have to dedicate a seperate blog post to 2016. Look out for it in the next week or so!