1) Tour of Flanders Sportive. A mere 260km or something with cobbles and hills of up to 24%. I’m not quite sure how the hills got there … this is supposed to be Belgium after all but at the end of the day it’s more about the atmosphere and the pro race the following day. Oktoberfest on wheels seems to be the general theme as far as I can tell. But it’s a fun idea to try and ride each of the pre Monument (one day classics) sportives at some point. Milan – San Remo next year?
2) A return to the South Downs Way. If you read about my previous ride on the South Downs Way then you may recall that I said I’d never go near it ever again. But for some reason which I don’t really understand myself, I’m feeling a pull to go back and try and do it again – only this time with some company, in daylight and without getting lost. I had intended to do this with an old friend of mine who is living the dream teaching people to telemark ski in Val D’Isere all winter/ spring before putting his feet up for the summer but he’s now ruined his ACL in a freak volleyball accident (?!) I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure an ACL is quite handy when performing telemark turns on skis so his ‘feet up’ period has been extended by about 18 months and that most definitely does not allow for any mucking about on bikes. So I’m working on a few other candidates instead. I might have to make my previous effort sound a bit more enjoyable!
3) The Hampshire Hilly Hundred. Yes, I know this is starting to sound a bit like 2013 already but hear me out … it’s about goals you see. When I rode this sportive last year I didn’t really have a clue what to expect or how fast I should be trying to get around. As it turned out I finished about one third of the way down the field and approximately 20 minutes outside the ‘gold standard’. So it seems a logical plan to return with the aim of at least finishing within the gold standard time. I have already recruited some fellow SW Rouleurs to the cause with the aim of riding it as a more organised team rather than me on my own chasing any pert bottom that happens to be riding in front of me … (girls bottom’s I hasten to add …. what? That still sounds creepy? ok … moving on!)
4) Prudential Ride London. The London Marathon of cycling which I confidently predicted would be a horrible thing to ride when I heard about it last year. In my minds eye it was a slow and crowded procession of people cycling down to Box Hill and back. A sort of Lord Mayor’s SkyRide on steroids. As is often the case, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone I know who rode it thought it was amazing, I haven’t seen a single bad thing about it save for a few whinges from the residents of Surrey who are rather upset to realise that they’re now living in Cycling Central. So I have entered the ballot for 2014 which I think closed within 24 hours. On the basis that I fail to get a place (and if my success in the Lottery is any guide thats virtually a certainty) I have a plan B via a well placed friend who assures me that he can get me a place should I need it. What really amazed me about the 2013 event was the times that people finished in! Closed roads clearly make quite a difference but even so …! However, because it’s all about the goals this year, I’ve set myself a target of 4 hours and 45 minutes or a smidge over 21 mph/33.5 kmh for 100 miles. Sitting here right now, I think it’s impossible. We’ll see.
That’s it so far. Alternative suggestions are welcome. Just keep in mind I have a wife and family who thought that this whole cycling bug would pass over once I’d got to the top of Ventoux!