2021 was an interesting year in more ways than I could have imagined, it started with hope and a little trepidation, not for the virus (because I am bored as shit with that), but for the mountain I put in front of myself for me to overcome. Buying a bike at the end of 2020, and targeting a LEJOG 9 months later, I am one to never do anything by halves....but this was going to be a stretch.
LEJOG was but one challenge last year, and actually not the biggest. I wanted to go back home and see mum, but as we started the year in a lockdown that lasted until mid April, this was probably just going to remain a dream for now. Instead, I gave myself a virtual challenge - to virtually travel the distance from London to Canberra, all 16,971km of it in the 12 months of my mum's 50th anniversary of moving to Australia as a £10 POM (sorry, on the Passenger Assistance Program that was running in the 60's and very early 70's). Mum is probably reading this right now, so won't embarrass her too much here, but she is (and has always been) a driving force in my life, she inspires me, and where I get my resilience, determination, and sense of adventure from.
As the image above would suggest, with the balance of 15,000km to complete in 2021, this was achieved with a couple of days to spare...almost literally a couple. It was a long year, and a 12,000km step up from 2020 (which to be fair was predominantly walking), but I am very proud of myself for pushing through the many highs and lows to get the goal in the end. The bottom right shows I logged 600 activities throughout 2021, at an average of 25km each, made up of both cycling and walking - no running, as still to this day don't see the point (next time you see someone run past you, see if they look like they are enjoying themselves - they are not). Looking through my statistics through Strava (not everything was recorded through there) in the "year review", it is quite amazing what I did achieve (slightly biased view of course), but it's always good to look back at what you have done and how far you have come to show you the bigger picture.
A slow build throughout the year each month, steady state through the middle, then LEJOG in September - as you can see, rolled the legs over a few time in the final three months, but not too much. I can say I definitely lost a bit of motivation, and then other commitments took hold - unless you keep on top of your work life balance, it quickly becomes work-work...and that is no balance at all. This year however wont...sorry...doesn't currently involve a mammoth week-long adventure, but something may pop up (a London-Paris looks very interesting), but there will be quite a few long weekends as I travel around the country over the next 2 years.
Like the distance before it, September was truly out there in front of every month, but unlike the distance chart, it was kind of flat throughout the year (not including the drop off in Q4). The goal this year will be to do an "everesting" height each month, or just north of 2000m per week (on average) - surely can't be too difficult (he says in week 3 already behind).
I was both happy and disappointed in equal measure with this ride. Although I had comfortably beat my previous longest ride by some 60km, I got so close to hitting the triple century before I had to surrender to leg cramp and a complete loss of energy. I hate not finishing anything I started, so will be back with a vengeance this year to get further. For reference, this is a single day ride, and I have a couple of plans/events for this in 2022.
So all in all, a fairly active year considering this was slotted around a demanding full-time job (and we were in lockdown until mid-April), but am incredibly proud of myself for maintaining the physical momentum and mental strength to get through it all. I don't make it easy for myself, but ironically that is part of the fun - who wants to live an unchallenging life? How dull!
So my targets, goals and aspirations for the year ahead have been set, and although I am going to keep some of them for myself, there are a couple I am more than happy to share with you. So for 2022:
Increase my total distance from 12,128km to 15,000km
Increase my one-month total distance from 1,775km to 2,000km
Increase my total elevation from 73,902m to 100,000m
Increase my total one-day distance from 277km to 300km
Increase my active days from 226 to 250 (still need a break and recovery time)
I always want to challenge myself, and push myself further, but without the love for cycling that I have, the above would never happen - I rode 525 hours in 2021, you don't spend that much time doing something you dislike (that goes for work as well people). So my challenges are set, I have the Taurean stubbornness to achieve them, and I have those close to me for continual inspiration, so lets face it - this is going to happen.
Sleep now, for tomorrow I ride.