A new year always feels like a clean slate, an opportunity to set some goals and make big plans. There’s something exciting about twelve months stretching out ahead of you; the days lengthening, the weather improving and adventure waiting. With opportunity in front of us, we thought we’d share some ideas to help inspire you to setting some targets in 2020.
This year sees the biggest sporting events return to the calendar, with the Tokyo Olympics and Football European Championships among the most prestigious. Annual events such as the London Marathon, Tour de France and World Championship Athletics slotting in-between throughout the calendar will feed our sporting hunger and inspire many to take up a challenge themselves.
CHOOSE YOUR GOALS
The scale of your New Year ambition is limited only by your own imagination. From a simple vow to shed some weight or increase your FTP to taking on Lands End to John O’Groats on a unicycle. Goals are a great way of inspiring us to persevere with our training and adding focus to our efforts.
Whilst there are several sportives, races and challenges out there, simpler targets are just as rewarding. Try bagging a local Strava segment, conquering a famous climb from Simon Warren’s 100 Climbs book or going further than you ever have before. Each of these will keep you motivated during the year and constantly improving.
Cycling Sportives and challenges have been around for years, but a growing number of alternative events are appearing all the time. EF Education First had a great year in 2019, participating in usual cycling events that have inspired many to take up gravel, mountain bike or cross. These alternative forms of cycling offer great variation from road cycling and all add to the excitement of the new. We’ve taken a look at a few of the early season events for you to set your sights on.
DARK SKIES — 22 FEBRUARY
Dark Skies is a night-time event that starts in the grounds of Newburgh Priory, on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. To add an extra layer of difficulty, the event starts just as the sun begins to set! The route will take you across forest and moorland for 50 off-road miles in the dead of night. It’s certainly not for the feint hearted or those scared of the dark.
It’s limited to 100 spaces, so if you fancy the challenge head over to their site now!
DIRTY REIVER — 17/18 APRIL
This year see’s the fifth edition of Dirty Reiver, established as the premier UK gravel event. Held in Kielder Forest in Northumberland, the event is an epic test of rider, bike, equipment and preparation. Riders will ride gravel forest access roads across vast forests covering the border region of England and Scotland. With time cuts for each of the four routes, its not just a case of getting around, but getting around in time.
The difficulty and kudos factor makes this a challenge to tick off for the super competitive .
BATTLE ON THE BEACH — 18/19 APRIL
Kicking off on a sandy beach in Pembrey Country Park, South Wales, Battle on the Beach is a fast off-road race open to all bike types. With a total distance of 45km, made up of 3 laps of beach, single track and forest roads, the race boasts an incredible atmosphere and a festival feeling. With entertainment on the Saturday night and cash prizes on offer, this weekend of Beach fun is a big hit in the Spring.
DORSET DIRT DASH — 23/24 MAY
Comprised of two events, the Dirt Dash is double header of bike packing and gravel fun. The 50/50 is a self-supported bikepacking event over two days, while the Dorset Dirt Dash 100 is a one day gravel grinder. Both take you around the amazing scenery on the Isle of Purbeck around Swange, the perfect way to experience the rugged beauty of Dorset and the Jurassic Coast.
Why not dig your one-man-tent or bivvy out and set a date with these May marvels.
BIG RIDE, BIG POCKETS
With all these crazy challenges to take on, you might want to think a little bit about what to carry with you. Unless you’re bike packing you are limited to your jersey pockets and maybe a frame bag or two. Whatever your capacity, here’s a list of the key things you’ll want to have on you.
Whether its a mini-pump or a frame pump you don’t want to be heading out for a long ride without the tools to repair those pesky punctures. Whilst the smaller variety are now able to reach almost 100psi, a full frame mounted pump will reduce pumping time drastically.
When choosing a multi-tool, ensure you have a good range of allen keys, screwdriver heads and torx heads. With this handy little life saver you can sort most problems long enough to get home or to a bike shop.
INNERTUBES / PATCHES
Always ensure you carry at least one inner tube. It’s also worth checking the valve if the tube has been inside your saddle bag for a while. A set of patches is essential to carry, as when you have used the inner tube, you can still get back on the road.
A single link of chain which can be disconnected and reconnected easily allowing you to join a broken chain back together and get you moving.
And make sure it’s fully charged before you leave. It’s also important to have an I.C.E (in case of emergencies) number stored in the contacts too.
Make sure you have enough food to fuel your ride. Remember that our energy bars and gels are a great way of packing a fuelling punch in a small packet.
When you’re riding you’ll probably stay warm, but a tricky mechanical can reduce your body temperature whilst you’re faffing on the roadside. Gilets and jackets fold down small enough to fit in a jersey pocket and are a good idea to carry all year round.
FUELLING FOR A BIG RIDE
Of course all this preparation is nothing without proper fuelling and hydration. Here’s our quick checklist to help you achieve your potential on a big ride.
The day before a big ride is a good time to think about hydration. A common mistake is to assume drinking is something you only do on the bike, but optimum hydration is a long game. Think of the day before as the start line and drink well and gradually all day.
Try to avoid eating late as this sometimes affects your sleep. Don’t believe Jacques Anquetil’s words and go for pheasant and champagne, but similarly don’t rely on the outdated notion of carb loading. Try light proteins such as chicken or fish and some carbs like rice, potatoes or pasta. There are great vegan sources of protein too, such as beans, pulses, soy, quinoa and nuts.