Tomorrow marks my 20th Birthday. As is inventible with an occasion such as this, I find myself in a rather reflective mood. Fortunately it’s not quite time for a mid life crisis yet, *I couldn’t afford a full set of Team Sky kit and a Dogma F10 anyway. At this point, I’m more concerned with deciding what to do with my life over the course of the next twenty years. At the moment the best I can come up with is something along the lines of: “well… um… I’ll ride my bike a lot”. In other words I don’t have a clue.

Academic research? Maybe, though the thought of staying at University for long enough to acquire a PhD is a slightly daunting one. Become a Coach? Another possibility, though one that would involve something of a gamble in financial terms. Putting everything into my training and trying to turn pro? Well, I know I’d never make in the world of Cycling – I have neither the fearlessness or the VO2 Max necessary. For now I’m simply concentrating on my degree – and project Ironman of course.

The usual wave of nostalgia now sets in. Looking back on my second decade is a bittersweet experience. On one hand I will forever remember the last few years as the time at which I finally discovered a sport I wasn’t (that) terrible at – overturning one of the underpinning assumptions of my childhood years. On the other being clumsy, awkward and overweight (now of course it’s just the first two) for much of my adolescence did give rise to some more unpleasant experiences . Character building is about the most positive term I can come up with.

A more immediate concern is how to mark the occasion. It will be hard to beat my 18th, which involved foolishly entering an early season sportive – the one and only time I have ever had to ride through a snowstorm. Last year, for various reasons that I won’t go into – I really wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. Most of the day itself will probably be spent catching up on the workload that seems to have accumulated over the course of the last few days – getting through that lot will be worthy of celebration in itself. Nonetheless I am determined to try and make the best of it – a massive slice of cake can solve many of life’s problems.

A bright idea occurred upon downloading the *100 Climbs app. Why not make a day of it, one such climb (Crowcombe Combe) happens to be around 50 miles from my hometown. Nothing like a century to make a day memorable – though not always in a good way. If I am to complete an Ironman one day, I’ll have to get fit enough so as to be-able to run a marathon afterwards – in which case I’d better start getting used to riding longer distances again. I live in hope that it won’t involve rain, hail, snow, sleet or general British winter weather. Chances are of course very slim. If nothing else, it will be the perfect excuse to for an outing on the race bike, getting a few Strava PR’s and mark the end of base training.

Thereafter, it will be time to look to the year ahead. Following a mixed bag of results last season, I’m determined to improve – not that this would be especially hard. For now my main focus remains a local road race at the end of April – following that it will be time to don the running shoes and swimming trunks in preparation for my first Half Ironman in September. Somewhere along the line, a win would of course mean a great deal – a close second was my best placing in 2016. Another goal is simply to get through the season without injury – a surgery free year would be very welcome. Fingers crossed.

Where do I see myself in twenty years time? Well, after having written this the honest answer is still “absolutely no idea”. Though hopefully I’ll still be riding – preferably with a nice stock of bikes to choose from. Money would be nice but not essential – hopefully there will be enough to keep me in Carbon fibre. I like the idea of living abroad in some exotic location with decent weather, but realistically Southwest England with it’s rain and mud is a more likely candidate. Anyway, enough waffling for one day.

Finally, it would be very rude of me not to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has had to put up with me over the course of the last twenty years. By my own admission this isn’t always an easy task, especially if you happen to have encountered me in the immediate aftermath of a bad race or lower than expected exam result. I can’t promise that the next twenty will be any easier, but I live in hope.

As ever, Stay tuned for more (most of which will make for better reading than this).

 

*Apologies to non – cyclists, that’s something of an inside joke. At the start of every sportive, you’ll find at least one rider in full pro-team kit with the bike to match – commonly dropped on the first climb.

* 100 Greatest Cycling climbs of the UK – a well known book. Riding all of them is a common feature on a riders bucket list. You get a badge and everything.

 

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