Looking forward to 2021

I don’t think that anyone will disagree when I say that 2020 wasn’t what any of us planned for or expected. I am however, looking forward to a much more constructive 2021 and would like to begin by sharing a small gift to those who share my love of going a little bit further than last time!

In 2020, a significant amount of cycling events were cancelled, this included both of the 24hr events (Mersey Roads and Kielder Chiller) I was planning to ride. I did however, on my third attempt, complete my everesting (not so subtle Brag)!

I’m pretty good at problem solving and have always wanted to put on a 24hr event: so In 2021, I’d like to put on the inaugural ‘Mary Mary off-road TT’, which has been designed to be as Covid secure as possible and minimise personal loss if it does need to be cancelled or postponed. In line with Breaking Cycles CIC’s beliefs, its also designed to have a tiny environmental footprint too!

Rooley Moor Road

I want this to be both brutal and inclusive so, although its a great 24hr challenge, I’d also like to invite people to use this event as an opportunity to ride the MTL for the first time or set their own goals, like a fast lap, night lap or double lap…

Please click here to find out more about ‘Mary Mary’ and hopefully help to make it happen…

The next time I post, I’ll be sharing the first part of my 2021 Vlog series: “#FatLadsCantClimb – Been there, done that, the T-Shirt doesn’t fit” which follow up on the themes of #FatLadsCantClimb as I document what it takes for me to get down to ‘race weight’ for this year’s cycling challenge…

Relentless preparation!

It’s getting close to Relentless time again and I’m starting to feel a little disappointed in myself as I haven’t stuck to the plan I made after last year’s race. That plan was simple: keep everything pretty much the same but make myself lighter, and therefore faster! This hasn’t happened and there is a limit to what can be achieved in a week so I’m focusing on what I’ve learned in the last year that might help.

In July, I raced the national 24hr TT championship and covered 414miles. More importantly, I managed to keep stoppage time down to just over an hour by being much more organised with nutrition etc. I’ve also discovered (having not re-applied until hour 16) that happy bottom bum butter can last for as long as 15hrs! So that should only need re applying once during the race! Hopefully, these lessons will result in a couple more hours on the bike and allow me to get a better result at Fort William without actually going any faster! This isn’t just about me though, Jen has developed some great soigneur skills (the word support was used in our wedding vows, so she’s contractually obliged now!) and designed a much more professional pit area which will feature an inflatable sofa, heating and lights and her (not very glamorous but extremely resourceful) assistant; Doug! We’ve also got The Green Jersey van so I’ll be able to take a spare bike and extra kit too.

I’ve also learned loads about nutrition and how focusing on ketogenic fuelling rather than carb based energy products can make it easier to keep going for 24 hrs without blowing. I will be using a few carefully chosen energy products though; Stealth training mix which has slow release carbs that don’t interfere with ketosis will be in my bottles throughout and I’ll use a few of their keto gels too. I’ll be eating a few Mr. Yeti bars too as they’re very natural, tasty and easy to eat on the bike. Caffeine gels will be left alone until the last couple of laps when it takes a lot of will power to just keep moving.

Comfort is king when it comes to bike setup and kit choices so I’ll be riding Candy again with the same forgiving gear ratio (about 55”) but some subtle changes have been made; a new set of wheels with wider rims (hand built by Rick at The Green Jersey) should give a bit more cushioning, along with the ergon cork grips, I shouldn’t have bruises on my palms this year!

With very little time to go, I’ve been spending some time working on my bike handling skills, culminating in today’s ride at Gisburn Forest with ATR skills. Rick had me picking better lines and getting through some of the more technically demanding trails much more effectively, which should help with making the most of my efforts and minimise the palm bruises too!

So this leaves me feeling excited, nervous, confident and apprehensive all at the same time. Think I’d better just turn up, ride and see what happens!