I still need some goals. I wanted to do something but I was at a loss as to what. I’d tried getting back into climbing a year or so ago but just couldn’t keep the consistency to get anywhere. I wish I could be one of those people that’s happy plodding along on easy stuff but the most of the enjoyment has always been in the challenge for me.
The solution presented itself in the shape of a beard. Not just any beard though, this beard was attached to Ed Oxley aka The Great Rock. Last year I’d decided that I needed to get back to the roots of biking and just do the things that first made me fall in love with two wheels. No racing, no daft training, just going out and having a giggle on your bike. It was actually quite refreshing not to be worrying about what mileage or speed and frankly it was amazing the views you can take in when your not starring at a cycle computer trying to regulate your heart rate or tempo.
Fast forward to the start of the year and I decided to do a skills course. Now it sounds daft wanting to do a skills course after riding for over 25 years but there were things that always bugged me about my riding. I’m a competent rider and there’s not much I wouldn’t try but I’m self taught and in many ways I’ve been winging it rather than doing what is technically correct. So time to put these demons to bed. I contacted Ed and arranged a day of tuition on one of his courses over at Gisburn Forest. The day turned out to be somewhat of a surprise. I’d read the reviews and heard the feedback from other clients but wasn’t anticipating anything mind blowing. In fact that’s exactly what I got. Ed’s style of laid back coaching along with a canny ability to spot the little things about your style and position mean the tips he was giving you made an enormous difference to your riding. For instance he took one look at my brake lever position and immediately told me to try rolling them back. Que a bit of bike fettling and slight change of position which resulted in my elbows dropping, my head coming up, eyes on the trail ahead, shoulders wider making it easier to breath, weight dropping backwards all off the back of slight change of lever position. Happy days.
All in all it was a great day and probably the best bike related money I’ve spent in a long long time. I heartedly recommend him so hit him up here… The Great Rock
Now there was one thing stood out more than anything else that day and no, it wasn’t the majestic beard. Ed had chatted about an event he had done back in February of 2013. The Rovaniemi 150, a 150km self supported mountain bike race based in the arctic circle in Finnish Lapland.
It sounded amazing. That night I came home and started researching. 150km, snow, -30 degrees, bivvying in the Arctic Circle, the northern lights. This was starting to sound like an adventure, a goal even! Now when Ed did the event back in 2013 he took 3rd place with a time of 22 hours and 32 minutes. Sod that! He rides his bike for a living!! Now the cut off time for the race is 42 hours. That’s more like it, but is it achievable? Quite frankly I don’t care. I wanted a long term goal and now I have one. Even if I don’t make the cut off what’s the downside? I’m riding a bike around the Arctic Circle with the potential for the northern lights to be painting the skies for me overhead. If I only do half the ride is going to be pretty epic. Have a nosey what it’s all about here.
But come on, let’s be honest. Nobody goes to the Arctic Circle to quit do they? So I need a plan of action. It’s a simple one. I’m going to ride my bike. Lots.
So I have a long term goal now what about the short terms. I’m planning on doing a fairly big ride at least once a month for the next year until I hit the Rovaniemi in February 2015. I’ll aim ride as regularly as I can but I’ll always have something to focus on every month. That should keep me motivated. At the very least it should stop me wallowing in self pity as soon as things don’t go to plan. If things go to shit one month I’ll just focus on the next one.
If I’m going to stand any chance of finishing this thing next February then I at least need to train in ways that might help. I’m not aiming to be a whippet, to hit any amazing times or even do it in one shot without resting. My goal is to simply complete it.
I’ve started to put together a schedule of events here (The Dirty Dozen) This will be finalized as I go along but there all going to tick similar boxes. Long ride, bivvy stops, night riding, cold environments, sleep deprivation, self reliance and most importantly beautiful backdrops.
I’ll work on the basis that I’m doing it all on my own but hopefully I should be able to convince some people to join me for some of these rides. So who’s up for it then??