Reflections

It’s been a pretty benign December but it hasn’t quite been the end to the year I wanted, going down with a chesty, phlegmy cough. Doing my normal ride up to Birmingham on Christmas Eve and back on the 27th to break the back of the Festive 500 probably didn’t help and I’ve spent the last few days of 2018 feeling sorry for myself and eking the miles out. I’ve also been looking back. Tomorrow I’ll try to look ahead.

Cycling was a key focus of the year. It has been in previous years but even more so in the last 12 months. Strava has made one of their little videos that gives the stats. The numbers say I rode 17,477km climbing over 130,000m but it’s the moments taken racking those up that mean more.

Riding the Transcontinental was of course the big event. Life-changing even. I’ve reflected on it more after the initial reactions I wrote straight after the event and realised how much it taught me about myself, how it cemented friendships and to a certain degree inspired some people. I also raised a shed load in the battle against cancer which touched me greatly and made me realise how many people the big C touches – I’ll be thinking about how I can raise more next year. Lastly the event gave me my best day on the bike of the year and a long list of places I want to revisit with much of former-Yugoslavia at the top.

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The hardest day on the bike wasn’t in the TCR though has a connection – the 400BRM ride as part of TINAT was a beast with a ridiculous amount of climbing and a fair bit of gravel; it was also a tribute to Mike Hall the guy who created the TCR and I think he would have approved.

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The funnest day was the Rapha City Prestige, blasting around the City with GP, Mark and Adrian each of on a Brompton and wearing a tweed jacket searching for clues and racing against other teams including one dressed as Super Mario characters.

Most satisfying was probably riding from London to Manchester and back with Margaux. She got pretty sick of staring at my butt, there were moments of tension and I probably wasn’t recovered from the TCR… but so worth it to help a friend achieve a goal.

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The most beautiful day was undoubtedly the Dirty Reiver on a stunning, sunny, warm spring day in the Scottish / English borders. Sublime.

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The bike was as it often is a distraction and salve for things going on elsewhere. 2018 was the year my Mum fought cancer for a second time (successfully I’m pleased to say) and I have tried to support her as best as I can. I keep asking if I could have done more but given where things have happily ended up I hope I did enough. I think she got a lot out of the support and excitement around my TCR effort and the fundraising it did.

2018 was also a tough year at work. My job only exists because of Brexit. I won’t talk – probably shouldn’t talk – about the policy but I don’t think I’m giving anything away by observing the tension around all the politics and saying that translates into uncertainty, ambiguity and tension for us as civil servants. Getting out on the bike to relieve stress when it builds up (or just escape it) and I’m fortunate to have a great team working for me. Which I guess is my final reflection for the year that once again, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by caring, thoughtful people with family, friends, clubmates and colleagues and they are the ones that really matter more than kilometres covered, metres climbed, challenges completed or policy papers drafted.

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