Well it’s New Years Eve 2016 and it’s not been a great year for me. My Mum died after a long battle with MND but that wasn’t unexpected and it finally brought an end to a really difficult few years. I’ve also finished the year with over 3 weeks of flu and bronchitis, which has put a bit of a dampener on Christmas.
More positively I got back cycling again in 2016 after a bone disease problem had put me on crutches for a couple of lengthy spells in 2014-2015, so 2015 had been a late and very cautious start on the bike after Easter but I could step things up again to a reasonable degree this year, getting back up to just over 2000 miles. It still wasn’t a year for either ultra-long distances or major events with the risk of problems coming back but it was pleasing to get going again without too much fear.
The highlight of my cycling year was Eroica Britannia in Bakewell in June, a great vintage event in a brilliant atmosphere and I enjoyed putting together an old steel bike over about eight months leading up to it.
I did the 89km middle distance ride with a friend from work Steve Carter, which added to the fun and we finished in decent enough shape, although the same can’t be said of the bike with the cotter pin bolt working loose. Sad to say it’s still in the shed caked in mud and straw from the waterlogged showground at the finish but I have bought some new French cotter pins and will be getting it ready for Eroica 2017 shortly.
Another particularly memorable ride was a training ride for Eroica we did just a week before the event, which also turned out to be my second longest of the year at 100km. This was also a bit of a mud-fest with a tough few miles of accidental off-road and navigational mishaps but we happened upon a lovely route beyond Hartington into Staffordshire.
There was also a good day out on the first day of Eroica, cycling to work in Dronfield in the morning, then in the afternoon down to Chesterfield to watch Lizzie Armitstead win the Women’s Tour stage on my local roads, followed by a ride out to Eroica afterwards, then home in the evening.
I also had a cold but fun day out watching the Tour de Yorkshire, I cycled up to the top of Greenhow Hill from Menwith Hill to spectate. It was freezing and a blizzard a few minutes before the helicopter rose up Greenhow ahead of the leaders but miraculously the sun appeared for the race to pass.
Early in the year I remember a couple of chilly winter and spring rides in various nice parts of North Yorkshire when visiting my Mum in Harrogate, particularly one in the cherry blossom villages around Aldwark bridge and another with a few miles of accidental cyclocross between Knaresborough and Ripley on the vintage bike.
Also a bizarre local Peak District ride on the old broken road up Mam Tor from Castleton. Somehow getting off the bike to step down one of the gaps in the road the front derailleur cable clipped the chain and ended up threaded through a link by some weird/magical mishap, so I had to turn round and roll back home the best I could. That one took some working out, it was a newish chain and the link must not have been flushly fitted and sufficiently open at the opportune micro-second for the derailleur cable to slip through and seemingly close up again. I always carry a magic link now after that!
Another top ride was at the end of May when an old friend from London brought his bike up on the train to Macclesfield and I cycled up Winnatts Pass and over Kettleshulme/Rainow to meet him, then we cycled back in the sunshine over the Car and Fiddle and via Millers Dale to Tideswell for a cafe lunch with the family, then we carried on down to Hope Valley.
My son’s birthday in May involved a nerf-gunning party in Matlock Bath, so I cycled out to that but took a wrong-turn in Matlock and ended up adding a huge climb over the Riber Castle backroads before eventually joining them for fish and chips and the amusements.
July was difficult with my Mum dying, I did take the bike out for a nice nostalgic spin around all the local places in Wharfedale she had lived in when she was young though, from Otley through Ilkley, Menston, Addingham and past Bolton Abbey and Denton, where my cousin had recently got married and one of the last big family gatherings my Mum could be part of.
My birthday fell the day after the funeral and my wife Carol and I got out for a sunny spin around the southern end of the Peaks from Parsley Hay around Ilam and Thorpe with a bit of a difference, we hired a couple of e-bikes for the day. Good fun for a change and impressed but I wasn’t converted!
Our family holiday in August was a great adventure, cycling coast-to-coast on The Way of the Roses Sustrans route from Morecambe to Bridlington over 6 days. Whilst not quite the challenge of the C2C-in-a-day sportive I did back in 2013 it was nevertheless far from easy terrain through the Yorkshire Dales in particular and was a really rewarding family achievement.
September saw a couple more memorable rides, firstly a 93km day over to Tatton Park in Cheshire to watch the Tour of Britain stage that Ian Stannard won, coming back over the Cat and Fiddle again. I didn’t get a particularly good view of the finish with the size of the crowd but watched it unfold on the big screen with a pie and pint.
Finally the main autumn rides that stick in the mind were early morning local ones, climbing up above the Hope Valley mist hanging below, a damp Sunday ride to Buxton B+Q back through the Monsal Trail tunnels and another round the Derwent Dams then over the tops and down through some very autumnal woods in the rain to Ladybower.
So all in all 2016 is a year I’m glad is now over, in spite of the numerous bad bits (don’t even start on Brexit, Trump, David Bowie, etc) I’ve had a decent enough cycling year and the best since 2013 with plenty to build on for a fuller 2017 on 2 wheels hopefully – just got to shake off the endgame of this bloody cold to get going again!
Happy New Year!!