I have seen lots of folks talking about their goals and objectives for 2016. I guess that's the thing you do at the start of each year. OK, so we are into February now - better late than never!
My recovery from an operation I had in November last year has meant that doing sport has been off limits and therefore completely out of mind.
A couple of days ago was the first day I did any physical activity of any shape or form, when I jogged almost 1km and had a go on a few machines at the nearby outdoor gym for a 10 minutes. It's very much a case of baby steps right now, but hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to attempt a 5km run or do my 10-mile cycle commute once I am back at work.
So, I am only just getting slowly out of the starting blocks, but at least I am in a position to think about some of the things I aim to do this year.
First, a quick recap of 2015:
This was quite an eventful year which came hot on the heels of a very black 2014 (in which my mum died suddenly). My move from Macclesfield back to London, and then a further move when I sold my flat in Crystal Palace to buy a house made things fairly busy. I started a new job in London while juggling this with being an executor of my mum's estate (not a job I would recommend), dealt with a relationship break-up and finished the year with a major operation. Things were a little busy in 2015!
But I rode my bike - I managed a bit of cyclo cross racing, and I even had a go at a downhill race. The rest of the time was spent doing pleasant cycle rides around Cheshire (while I was in Macclesfield) and then off-road and on-road rides on the Kent and Surrey lanes and trails.
Cycle road racing was out of the question as my head was already too full! No space to deal with competition!
I still managed to contribute some magazine articles to Cycling Weekly Cycling Active and Sportsister.com, do a journalism exam and get in a couple of local running races (including a fell race and some orienteering) for fun.
Hopefully, 2016 will be more straightforward than 2015, without it being boring.
So, here's what I want to do in 2016:
A couple of Sea to Sea rides
It turns out there are a few waymarked routes to get from the west coast to the east coast of the north of England. The classic Whitehaven to Newcastle (Tynemouth) route is on my list, but I would also like to do at least one of the others: Southport to Hornsea (Transpennine Trail); Morecambe to Bridlington (Way of the Roses); Walney to Whitby (W to W). The Transpennine trail is the easiest one, and is local to where my family is. So I would like to get that in. I will see how the time goes, so time-permitting I would then try the W to W.
Long distance off-road rides
This will be a choice between the Pennine Bridleway or the South Downs Way. I have done different sections of this, but have never done the full length as one trip. This would represent a slightly easier and less daunting challenge than the Pennine Bridleway as I am already familiar with the South Downs, and I know there will always be a train station not too far away that'll get me back to London if I bail out! However, the Pennine Bridleway sounds like an exciting ride.
I will do an Evans Ride-it off-road ride. These are nice and local. After that there are the Cycling Weekly Adventure Cross races. The Moors and Shores one looks interesting as it goes through Dalby Forest and the North York Moors as well as passing near the seaside towns of Scarborough and Whitby.
A couple of cyclosportives. There are so many to choose from that I can't say which one right now!
Cyclo cross - I only did one 'cross race at the start of the 2015 season, so hope to get a bit more use out of my cyclo cross bike this year. As well as using it during the organised rides I plan to do at least one race more than last season. The good news is I don't have to wait until the summer or autumn to pin on a number. There is a cyclo cross series up in Hull (East Yorkshire) during the month of March, sponsored by cycle shop Vive le Velo.
Track cycling - I have a track bike that I haven't seen for about four years when it was left at the Herne Hill Velodrome before I went to work in Milan. I was worried that the people who run the velodrome may have sold it off. In fact I was recently told that it's probably been making a little kid very happy as they have had the use of the bike during the training sessions. At least it wasn't taking up space in their lock-up for nothing then! Well, this year I will want it back so I can relaunch my track cycling career! The plan is to do the Saturday morning training sessions and then take part in some women's races.
Foreign rides - I have been known to ride my bike abroad over the years so you might think I would include at least one cyclosportive in France, Italy or Spain on the list, or even just a smidgen of a tryst with my beloved Alps or Dolomites! The answer is that a ride in foreign parts is neither on nor off the agenda. I just want to see how I feel on the day. I went on one overseas trip with my bike last year and enjoyed it. (Actually, I didn't take my bike but hired one while there - much less hassle.) Part of the fun was the fact that it was a spontaneous decision to go to Lake Como. Going abroad to ride or race is not really an aim as this is would not be a new challenge for me. It'll be more a case of just go if or when the mood takes me. The UK rides in the North of England mentioned above will be more of a challenge for me as they are set in rugged terrain. Also, being up North I will probably have to deal with my fair share of considerably more rugged weather and more isolated areas than the popular, iconic climbs in a sunnier European destination!
Needless to say I will do some running races too - something which has always given me lots of pleasure. Parkruns are a definite yes, and it would be nice to do well in my age group category at some local races. Having recently joined South London Harriers, which is quite a strong running club, their training sessions are likely to sort out my (lack of) form!
The rest of my anticipated activities for this year are dabbling in the odd novelty event - a bit of orienteering, some mountain bike orienteering and even some fell running. That does exist even in the London area!
I just want to have fun when doing sport in 2016. But before I can do any of the above I will have to stretch my physical capability a bit further than just being able to run 1km!