Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Forests not fondos

My cycling goal for 2017

You may remember last year that I aimed to ride all 12 of Strava's fondo challenges. Well, I managed 10 out of 12 and while I was pleased with that, there was also a small amount of "I could do better; room for improvement". So I decided that in 2017 I would attempt it again.

But as January dragged on as it always does, I never rode my road bike, didn't plan a route and to be honest, just didn't feel like doing it. I have no problem with the distances, I know I can do it. It's the time it takes. 5 hours for a 100km ride is a great morning out, but with a 17 week old daughter at home, I do feel like I should be there more at the moment. I think my wife wouldn't mind me going on one big ride out a month, but it doesn't feel right to me currently. Perhaps there was the thought that doing the same thing in consecutive years was a bit unoriginal creeping in there as well.

What I have decided to do instead

In late 2015, I completely refurbished my mountain bike. I spent a good couple of weeks sourcing the replacement parts, waiting for them to arrive and then completely stripping it down to individual components: the fork was serviced at Inspiral Cycles in Bishop Auckland, I fitted new chain rings and cranks, new brake lever innards, new hydraulic brake lines, serviced the callipers, new headset and bottom bracket, polished and touched up the frame and fitted new wheels. I spent a small fortune too. The trouble was, in 2016, I only rode that bike once!

I really enjoyed this project - shame I never really enjoyed the result

It's time I spent a bot more time riding this bike. There's a top class trail centre on my door step at Hamsterley, so I could spend a couple of hours riding there once a month in place of a fondo. I'm out on my bike, I'm close to home, it wins both ways!

Yesterday I had an hour or two spare so I went to the forest and blasted around the blue route, hoping the sun wouldn't go down before I made it back to the car. It didn't and I had a great time. I had the forest to myself and remembered just how awesome it is to ride there.

The finished article, back in 2015. It looks like this now actually, due to the lack of riding!

As it happened, the bike needs a little tweaking: the gears need re-indexing and the front brake squeals like a pig. Next time, I'll have these small annoyances fixed and I'll give myself a little bit more time to really take in the forest.

Here's the first forest ride of 2017

Be sure to check out my Strava page for all my rides.

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