Seeing out the year, December 2020

From lockdown to tier 3, I think we all felt that this was the way it was going to go.

So, we head into the month, able to ride as a group of six again, but I think club runs will have to wait until the New Year at the earliest for me. My feeling is that it is safer to ride with the close group of friends I know and trust, as opposed to a range of club riders whose habits I know nothing about.

It’s great that we can now ride a group again, but cafes are only doing take-aways, so sitting outside huddled round a brew is the only option.

The above restriction together with a wicked cold spell in the first week has meant quite a lot of turbo rides to maintain a bit of fitness and help me wind down for winter. So far this month I have still only been riding in pairs, and cafe stops have been a rapid turnaround, trying desperately to keep warm.

It was also a bit of a landmark ride on the first Saturday, as I managed to reach 60,000 miles (73,000Km) on my Strava account, having not started using it full time until May 2012, so eight years seven months, that’s just over 7,000 miles (11400 km) a year av.

I wish I had kept records going back to 1989, when I first got serious about cycling, but sadly they only go back to 2008 and that totals 73,000 miles (118,000 km).

The first weekend was a mixture of patchy fog and blue skies and temperature highs of 2oC. There had been constant rain for most of Friday, so there were a few roads which were flooded, some impassable.

Once on the road, both days were not as bad as expected, dipping in and out of the mist. That was until after the cafe break on Sunday when we were plunged into the thickest fog I ever remember riding in. It actually felt like dusk as we reached higher ground. It was really eerie seeing the sun slowly get shrouded by the fog. The forecast looks like it might be a few days before I get out again as the second week starts with freezing fog.

December seemed to drag on in the cold and damp well into the third week, catching rides outside when I can, as well as some steady turbo rides, just to keep the legs turning. A Saturday ride that finished at a local cafe, shivering through a hot chocolate, has helped me back off a little, as the enthusiasm is now starting to wane, and I definitely need a change of focus for a few weeks.

It has been good to do a few local walks, but travelling outside the area is still frowned upon, so there is no chance of anything more adventurous. This area is known for its very clay-based soil, so this time of year it is just a boggy mess, so making walking and off-road riding a mess. Although there is so much work going on in the area, building and farm work, that most walks or bike rides finish looking like you have been off-road.

As a final flourish to 2020, I had identified a nice little challenge, organised by luggage manufacturer Restrap. The Restrap Solstice Century Challenge, to cover 100 miles in the solstice weekend, 19th and 20th December. It seemed much more sensible than last year’s 500km between Christmas and New Year.

I managed to entice a few mates to join me, then using Komoot, put together two routes of just over 50 miles, which would take in a cafe for some mid-ride refreshment. We were blessed by half decent weather, some sunshine, and temperatures around 10oC. It also gave me chance to use my Restrap “Canister Bag” on the bars containing camera and snacks. Love it, great bit of kit.

The following week started grey, then got very wet on the Wednesday, with all the ground struggling to get rid of the water. A walk on Christmas Eve revealed just how much rain had fallen, and there were indications to show that the level had fallen dramatically by the time I got out.

A quick spin off-road on Boxing Day was very muddy but great fun and made a refreshing change but rain the following days has put a stop to any off-road activity for a while, including walking.

This is the last of the monthly blogs. I only started them in April when everything went pear shaped due to Covid, and it was mainly a tool to help me get through a year when I knew there would be restrictions to my movement.

Looking back through the blog I realise how lucky I have been to do what I have done, under the circumstances, but I am conscious of the many vulnerable people who have basically been locked down for nine months, also the people whose businesses have been impacted because of this pandemic. My thoughts go out to them and hope for their sake the vaccines do what has been promised and life gets back to normal for them in the coming year.

A very low mileage December for me, but I was ready for a change. I am sure there will be plenty of time to get back up to speed before we are able to travel anywhere in 2021. For the year I am 1600km down on last year, but long rides have been out of the question in 2020, so most of it was done in rides of under 114km. Having said that I only did 4400km in the car this year, so at least I got out.

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