Other Events in 2014
Just the act of entering the Haute Route in 2014 meant that this became a year of focussing on cycling. Events have conspired to make this not just a year of cycling but a year of only cycling (albeit with the odd ski holiday thrown in). Whilst the Haute Route was the first event entered, a number of other entries and ballots have all come good so now it looks like a packed diary of events. In order, the current schedule looks like this:
April 12th: Paris – Roubaix
May 11th: The Fred Whitton
June 1st: Chilterns 100
June 8th: The Dragon Ride
August 10th: Ride London 100
August 24th – 30th: Haute Route
That's a packed schedule! However I think I've got it about right, through luck rather than judgement mind. I've got a number of events fairly early in the year to get some more experience doing long, hard sportives. Then I've got a good period of time with nothing on to recover from the early season and do some hard climbing miles in prep for August. Then a tune up race a couple of weeks before the main event. Let's go into the races in more detail and talk about my goals for them.
Paris – Roubaix. Hell of the North. I'm really excited about this race. This will be my first effort at a sportive linked to one of the five monuments of cycling. One day I'd like to do all of them so this is a good start. My aim is just to get round. I want to enjoy the event, the cobbles, the whole atmosphere of it, but I'm not targetting it as an event I'm training up for and am going to taper off for. It will be just another long training ride, albeit a tough, long and hellish one.
The Fred Whitton. Pain and suffering. Surely this is the most difficult one day sportive in the UK? Anything that has Hardnott and Wrynose pass after 100 miles has to be up there with the really difficult ones, and given the numbers that apply for entry it's a difficult one to get into. This is my major spring target. The training plan is going to involve a lot of steep intervals in the 8 weeks leading up to the Fred. I grew up going on holiday here many easters and bank holidays. It always reminds me of my dad so it will be great to go up there and take this on. My target is sub 8 hours. If I can hit that, or near enough, then I think I'm well on track for later on in the year.
The Chilterns 100. I've been roped into this one by Hal. Should be a fun ride but coming a week before the Dragon Ride I'm using this as a long training ride. It will be a good test of how I've recovered from the Fred.
The Dragon Ride. I've done this before back in 2009. It's a really tough ride. I' doing the 158km ride with my mate, other Neil, and my cousins (although they have opted for the 225km ride). The route has changed since I last did it but I still expect a day of cross winds, narrow welsh lanes and brutal climbs that are almost alpine like (the Bwlch anyone?). Similar to the Chilterns 100, I'm not targetting this as a major event of the year. A good, long, training ride in the Welsh hills.
Ride London/Surrey 100. I'd forgotten I'd entered this. Out of the blue about 3 weeks ago I got a letter through the door saying I was successful at getting in. With 24,000 people riding this in 2014 it is going to be the biggest event of the year for me in terms of participants. It's a fairly flat course with just 3 or 4 short sharp climbs. Simon did this last year and finished 7 minutes behind the winner. If I can finish within an hour of the winner I'll be amazingly happy. However this is just two weeks before the Haute Route, my training should be hitting a peak before tapering off. I've got a lot of recovery time afterwords. So I can aim to hit this full gas. Let's see how close to Simon's time I can get!
Then it is two weeks of tapering and recovering so I can hit Geneva in the form of my life. That's the plan anyway.
The one thing that does occur to me on reading all of this and understanding the amount of cycling I'm doing this year, is what an understanding and supportive wife I have. Let's hope she's still that understanding come August. It will be fantastic to have her there at the finish line to welcome me across.