How my 2019 cycling journey started with a bang!

cycling bike by the side of the road

I was cycling around Warwickshire on my own, early December 2018 and it was a beautiful day. 52 miles into 55 miles. I was on my way home, on local streets and coming down a hill, a car turned into its driveway without seeing me. Being on a bike, just in cycling clothing, you realise how open to injury you are in that split second. It all becomes real, real quickly.

From Strava, I was going about 23 mph down a hill when the car turned. I hit the side of the car and flew like Superman over the top of it landing on the pavement. I genuinely don’t remember too much apart from feeling actually okay (once the initial pain had worn off). An ambulance arrived and collected me and took me to A&E to check me over. I was fine, somehow, but just some cuts and bruises.

My bike was toast. The carbon forks were smashed to pieces and wheel was bent. The drivers insurance paid for replacement of all my gear after they admitted fault. I took a month off the bike to recover. But then came the full carbon road bike. Still, with hindsight, an entry level carbon road bike but it was sleek and sexy to me at the time.

2019 Road Cycling Journey begins!

It was January 2019 and I was now commuting to work on a mountain bike, and the carbon bike was for the weekends. I was doing 125 miles a week, mainly because my weekends were spent on the bike, going further and seeing more. More challenging routes, faster speeds.

In 2019 I signed up for Mad March Hare, the Birmingham Velo and Mad Summer Hare. I remember the first being hard. I did it with a friend who wasn’t quite as obsessed as me so that slowed me down but actually enjoyed it a lot and gave me some time to look up.

Then came the Birmingham Velo. 102 miles.. There was prep for that, not just training but making sure I had real cycling clothing and get gains. I would need all the help I could to do 100 miles for the first time. Closed roads, 20,000 people and just ride your bike.

I bought a new cycling jersey, new bib shorts, all the cycling snacks and supplements I could think of and started to build up doing 60, then 70, then an 80 mile ride. Then it was time to ride the Velo.

I bonked for the first time, during this event. I started with a group of friends from a local cycling club. We went flying out the blocks for the first 25 miles, then I was on my own. I was just caught up in the cycling event, the groups of cyclist, people everywhere and before I realized it I was 45 miles in. Then I also realized something else. I hadn’t eaten anything. This wouldn’t be a big deal on a normal Saturday as 50 miles would be normal so I’d be almost home, but not today!

I started eating about mile 50, but I was getting hungry and only halfway through, this was a problem. Give me all the aero cycling clothes you can think of, cycling brands, fancy road bikes, but when you haven’t got the energy there is nothing you can do. It’s a dark place – one we will all go to once, if not more.

I met up with two guys that helped me, let me sit on their wheel for about 20 miles. I consumed a lot of food and drink in a short space – gels, bars, bananas, anything I could find. They dropped me about mile 75 and I was on my own. Then it was a matter of getting to the finish line. I did stop about mile 82 and contemplate life….

Slowly but surely, the legs turned, power went through the pedals (albeit not much) and with about 5 miles to go, the adrenalin started and I knew I was close to the end. It turned into a crit! Everyone wanted to finish before the cyclist next to them.

That day was a learning day, in my cycling journey, to show that I could do it. Cycling makes you dig deep, keep pedalling, keep pushing, motivating yourself to say you can do it.

The last event of 2019 was Mad Summer Hare – 106 miles with 4 climbs in the Cotswolds. Dovers Hill, Saintbury, Snowshill and Campden. UK road cycling climbs at their finest. Then make your way back to the start. This was the day I realized I was ready to take my cycling seriously. I did it, 19mph average, 6000ft of climbing and sat on the front for 45 miles at the start. It was a brilliant day and finished 9th overall.

2019 cycling gains galore – how hard can cycling be?!

2019 was a big year for me. Starting the year recovering from a crash, to smashing three events. Logging 6000 miles in the year. FTP going from 270 to 318. Weight coming down by 10kg. I was starting to really take it all seriously. I was shopping for better bike equipment, better clothing, and actually enjoying wearing my cycling clothes more than normal clothes! I was proud to know that all the time on the bike, hours, pain, rain, winds, snow, sweat, tears, and everything else actually paid off. So much can go wrong, but with no real injuries and just doubling down on cycling gains, it was a brilliant year. 

Then came my first cycling holiday with the lads…. Gran Canaria.