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January seems like it has gone on forever but looking back to 2017 everything just went by so quickly. This time last year it was announced that I was going to be a Primal Ambassador and what a year I have had! There have been so many brilliant moments that have made 2017 epic but being able to share these experiences with Primal has been an amazing opportunity and one I am very proud to be a part of. This year we have two new ambassadors joining Kelly and I and I hope this year is as epic for them as it has been for me.
The end of the 2017 marked the start of lots of Christmas parties kick-starting the festivities with Chatteris Cycling Club on the Friday followed by a trip down to Plymouth for the weekend for the Primal Christmas shenanigans and so it began, parties and family gatherings one after another. The minor issue I have with Christmas is that my good intentions and hard work over the course of 10 months (excluding Januarys, because that’s when it all starts again) are annihilated over the space of one week in December, actually that’s not true; it’s more realistic to say the whole month! With the social diary filling up, any spare time was put aside for day to day stuff or Christmas shopping and even then, I was putting it off right until the last minute, (it’s not just the men who do this) all I wanted to do was go cycling.
On the odd occasion when it wasn’t raining heavily or snowing and dismissing the mini tantrum I had with myself during a 25-mile ride home in a 20-mph head wind I did manage to pick one sunny, crisp day for a 65-mile round trip ride into Cambridge with Matt. Wearing my new winter favorite, the Neon Long sleeve Jersey, Matt was doing his part in his Primal “Power Yourself” Jersey, and the mantra was one that kept repeating over and over to me as I slowly came back to life. The ride into the city centre is via the guided bus route which goes on for about 13 miles from St Ives (Cambs) into the city centre of Cambridge. The route is full of people getting fit, runners, Nordic walkers and cyclists and is a Strava segment haven. You will often see time triallists and cyclists from the local clubs out on a lunch time spin along the busway and sometimes I will try and see if I can catch up with them. So, having done just that on the way out (you have to work for the cake, don’t you?) we stopped off for a coffee at The Expresso Library, Cambridge, a cycling hub/café/eatery who also hold their own club rides. The hub is full of cycles suspended from the ceiling and cycling memorabilia donning the walls among the ‘hooks’ to hang up your own bike and I always get a bit giddy with excitement when I see someone else appreciating bike life as much as me. You can just sit, and people watch as other cyclists in lycra clip clop through the main door with their bikes or observe the very tall riders effortlessly pop their full carbons on the highest hook on the wall. Meanwhile little me clatters about just to reach the lowest one. While waiting for our order we sat looking at all the bikes surrounding us, vintage, aluminium, custom made and standard carbon. Casting a roving eye over all the bikes then spiralled into searching the internet for another N+1. So, having popped out using free pedal power, plus a couple of quid on the coffee and muffin we left an hour or so later having ordered two winter road bikes!! Probably the most expensive coffee we’ve ever had but the one that keeps on giving, leading me to ponder when is a coffee not just a coffee.
As an ambassador for Primal, a role which I have so much fun with, has meant that I have been able to share, photograph and write about my little adventures and my goals, which was another reason for ordering the winter bike so that I could start riding CX and experience and share new adventures throughout the year. After a lull in December and feeling quite sloth like and craving salad by January 1st, it was time to start putting in place my goals for 2018. After making a few adjustments and upgrades to my new CGR bike and testing it out on the road it was time to test it out on a solo ride around some of the rural droves and gravelly tracks avoiding lots of potholes, ploughing through mud, lumps and bumps. Splashing and sloshing through the mud was so much fun and as I mentioned before in my August Blog, Curiosity Cured the Cyclist, I became aware of myself cycling with a huge grin on my face. Why hadn’t I tried this before? After a few challenging days it was nice to break free and get muddy and just ride without any care for speed and averages.
Following on from this was the recommencement of the Sunday club rides and the chance to try out the bike, cross country through muddy fields, grassy tracks, a golf course, (away from the tee off) and farm tracks. I was a bit unsure that wearing my Thermal Onyx Tights, Onyx Wind Vest and my Neon Long Sleeve Jersey was a good idea once I got trudging through the muddy tractor furrows as I was worried I would rip the kit, but all was okay, and it withstood of my failings to stay upright on the bike as I dug deep into the really thick and impossible sludge. Occasionally my ride buddies Bill and Matt stopping in the distance and laughing when they saw I had keeled over in a dense muddy track making their way back to help me up. It’s not easy pulling someone out of the mud when you or they are laughing so much. The ride took us through some amazing hidden gems that I never knew were even on our doorstep, in particular the Stonea Camp, a Roman settlement and forte which I had heard of but never visited. Arriving home 26 miles later with a filthy bike and muddy kit, I passed a neighbour jet washing his car, so while catching up I managed to return home with a clean bike, a big smile on my face and a QOM. That was so much fun.
The Eastern Regional CX leagues have finished for now so I will wait for the new season later in the year but there are plenty of new goals and challenges I have in sight for now. New challenges and new places I would love to ride. Primal being the kit sponsors for Velo29 means there is even more reason to want to try cycling in new surroundings such as York-Leeds-York or for the Braveheart somewhere in me, joining some of my club buddies taking part in the ultimate Primal Two Ton Tour. 200 miles and lots of hills that will take dedication to train for as I live in the only part of the UK that is practically in 1 dimension……………flat!!!
But everything is do-able, and its back to running and indoor riding when I can. Running on the treadmill and getting on the turbo trainer with the help of RideSocial has been a help and an interim until I am set up fully on Zwift. Ridesocial is a semi virtual platform similar to Zwift that can connect to your speed and cadence sensors using an app and Chromecast if you don’t have a smart TV. You can choose to ride various semi-virtual routes, or virtual reality (with a headset if you can multitask on a bike) and after 20 miles of pushing yourself flat out so that your opponent from another side of the world doesn’t get past you, (its healthy competition) you feel you’ve had a great, yet sweaty work out and where the Primal Sleeveless Mesh Base Layer proves it is made of magic, having kept the moisture well away from my skin and kept me cool during the 45-minute sessions. The same can’t be said for keeping away the bugs though and returning home from work with a full-blown cold and being slightly sensible for a change gave myself a week’s rest before hitting the treadmill again…. perhaps I’ll give it a few more days.
With lots of events coming up in the annual cycling diary, there are lots of things to look forward to. Lots of goals and new things to try. Training as a pilot rider on tandem for partially sighted cyclists, more sportives, races, road riding and muddy cyclocross, I may even sign up for half marathon. One thing is for sure, The Primal ethos, that: Some of us are weekend warriors. Some of us are serious athletes. Some of us like to jump off things other people call cliffs. But we all share one thing. We worship at the temple of raw, wild fun.
Until next month…… Ride Primal