I noticed a nice round number pop up on Strava after a ride at the weekend, it was my 2000th ride logged on the platform. This started in November 2011 and has seen me accumulate just over 41,000km of riding over the space of 1805 hours on the bike.
It sounds like quite a lot when you put it like that. What started as something to get me off the sofa after becoming particularly fat & lazy after a couple of rounds of surgery on a broken wrist has become something I do pretty much every day of the year. It has also become something which pretty much everyone I know has got into as well, which is a stroke of luck, and I probably go to the pub more now after/during a bike ride than I do when not dressed head to toe in lycra.
In 2011-12 I just enjoyed building up from 10 to 20 to 30 to 50 mile rides at the weekends. It was a new way of going to nice places more often, like Box Hill and Windsor Castle which were nearby for my entire life beforehand, but I had only been a couple of times to each.
It took me a little bit of time to realise that being fat and trying to ride a bike relatively fast didn’t work, and I spent a couple of months doing little more than eating a bit less food, and managed to drop from 95kg (ish) to 75kg (ish) which is where I’ve been since.
It’s pretty remarkable when I look back at all the places I’ve been, things I’ve done and people I’ve met, all because of riding a bicycle. Very much doubt I’d have been to any of the places below without cycling, and they are all absolutely incredible (apart from Dagenham).
The best bit about it all, is that there’s still so much to do. Mallorca and the Pyrenees this year for starters. I’ve got panniers and a gas cooker sitting in my shed, begging to be taken away microadventuring in the summer. The Dolomites, Norway, Argentina, the Peak District, Bavaria, Tuscany, Andalucia, Tenerife, Girona and South Africa all need to be visited. I’ve only scratched the surface of racing and time trialling, and there’s the additional worlds of mountain, track and cyclocross bikes which also look like a whole load of fun.
Breakdown of 2000 rides on Strava
- 961 commutes on my single speed Mango
- 807 rides on my Canyon Ultimate
- 25,000km distance
- 200,000m elevation gain
- 1000 hours in the saddle
- 227 rides on my Bianchi Via Nirone 7 (first road bike)
- 13 rides on various rental bikes in Copenhagen, Cuba & Scotland
- 82 indoor rides using TrainerRoad & Sufferfest
- 79 indoor rides on Zwift, clocking 2,112km
And which ones were the best? Below are 5 of my favourites
- London to Brighton
- I really enjoy riding on my own. Could spend all day quite happily riding around, usually with 5live in my left ear for some entertainment. This ride down to the South Coast was mainly to tick off a few of the 100Climbs in the area, but also happened to be on an unbelievably nice Spring day. The lanes around the foot of Steyning Bostal were dreamy to ride around.
- Big Boys in the Brecon Beacons
- In summer 2016, 15 of us went off to the Beacons for the weekend. On the Saturday we ticked off some epic climbs including The Tumble and Llangynidr Mountain. There was some crap bits riding around Merthr Tydvil, dual carriageways, roadworks, angry drivers etc. It was all a bit bleak for a while. Then we made it to the base of Rhigos Mountain and were greeted with a load of ‘Road Closed’ signs. Fortunately for us, this just meant no cars, and an empty, smooth 5km climb zig-zagging up the mountain. Lucky us.
- Winning a Bike Race
- Having never won anything of note since the Batting Cup for Westcott CC in around 1998, it was a bit of a rush to win a bike race earlier this year. It may have been the cycling equivalent of a pre-season friendly, but a win is a win, right?
- Alps Are Good
- People who have ridden in the Alps bang on about it all the time. Pretty early on into our first day there last summer I could see why. We started with the big one, Col du Galibier via Col du Telegraphe, and it’s just bloody incredible. The best views you’ve ever seen, smooth roads, epic riding, tasty beer, melted cheese all over the place. It really is something special.
- Riding to the Beach
- Bank holiday trains are a bit of a lottery, and quite expensive when you book them late. Consequently, me and Tomo rode the 208km to the beach in Norfolk last May rather than waste time and money on the train, and it was awesome