Stars and Spokes
Looking into the mind of Dan! Danger....
Dan here. So Pascal started us off nicely with the training goals that we need to hit, but after jointly agreeing these together I wanted to break some of those down further on a slightly more personal level. January typically inspires goals and resolutions, and this expedition really made me think about what I wanted to achieve through doing it. Luckily I've had many hours on the bike alone with my thoughts to figure it out!
I haven't tended to set New Year's resolutions before, they've not been things I've really considered much. I've tried to adjust any idiosyncrasies as needed rather than use NYE as a catalyst. Although once on New Year's Day I did inform my wife that I wanted to be more 'funky' but I'm pretty sure that hasn't happened as my musical and dress tastes will attest to.
However setting goals can be a useful thing as the process forces some honesty about where you are versus where you could be, or need to be. So I thought about where I needed to be as a cyclist at the beginning of our expedition and worked back:
I want to be able to enjoy each day and the experiences rather than it being a gruelling struggle for survival; I want to be comfortable with the distances and the climbs; I want to have extra in the 'tank' for when inevitably we have longer, harder days due to disasters; and whilst we're not out to set records I don't want to be slowing Pascal down.
So I think this translates to a few definable goals, if we're sticking to the SMART model:
Goal 1. I want to average 15 MPH over terrain with 70' ascent per mile. This doesn't sound much but actually is a fair bit of climbing over distance! Over 30 miles that's around 2100' which can really start to slow you down. Luckily, Cornwall is all hills so the training ground is perfect if uncomfortable! I'm not too far off this at the moment - conditions, route and kit obviously make massive differences but I'm normally mid-14s based on stats and occasionally tip in to 15 however it will take some proper strength increase to become consistent.
Goal 2. I want to consistently hit between 200 and 300 kilometres a week. That translates to (assuming Goal 1 goes to plan!) 10-15 hours cycling a week. This is achievable but I know circumstances and 'life' will mean it isn't possible each week, and it's so much harder in winter to head out in the dark and rain! Also I don't want this to push the other really important things in my life out such as my family. Spending every waking hour on the bike just isn't fair on them and means I'm less happy when I'm riding.
Goal 3. I have to train smarter as well as harder. I need to plan my training rather than just going for a bike ride when it's sunny! Better understanding recovery, nutrition, and having a mapped out plan of intensities and distance should help me reach Goals 1 and 2 more easily. Luckily we've got some great support in all of this from the Institute of Naval Medicine, and Tim, the Royal Navy Physical Training Instructor assigned to the expedition.
SMART objectives and the binary world of military logic aside, there's a lot of intangibles associated with this which are equally as important:
I want to enjoy the training rather than it being an endless slog. I can't wait for longer evenings when it's not just hours in the dark sliding down unlit roads, always on edge from traffic danger and poor road surfaces, being able to taste the difference between road spray and rainwater in your face.
I want to inspire others with this ride. I don't imagine that everyone who reads this blog will suddenly don lycra and zoom off across a continent, but if a few people out there recognise this as an average bloke being able to commit and achieve something special and that they could do the same, then job done. If you follow suit and make a couple of changes in your life then let us know- it would be great to hear what you're doing and what made you do it.
More than anything, I want to show my kids what is possible, what the world has to offer them, and what you can do to make it happen. If they 'get' that this is about exploring, that the life is full of adventure, that you have to go out and grasp every opportunity, and you should be looking out for your fellow human beings along the way, then I've succeeded.
Oh, and I want to be more funky..