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What do I want to be remembered for? What’s going to be in that keynote eulogy delivered on the occasion of my departure? I was thinking about a funeral I went to a few years ago on the passing of a (self-proclaimed) big whig professorial blowhard of a guy noted for the arcane manner of his literary (?) ponderings and pompous (if not ballistically hubristic) lecturing style. ‘Here lies a great professor much regarded by his academic peers…’ For some reason, that chilled me to the bone. Mainly because the ‘peers’ in question were all as big a bunch of dip sticks as the recently departed… Fancy a legacy of remembrance constrained only to one’s workplace endeavours. To be defined by one’s job. That was not for me. I rather be remembered for climbing Mt Everest on a cyclocross bike or something similarly outrageous before being tagged by my contributions as a factor on the economic assembly line. How often do we see the ‘real person’ under the cultural constructions of our workplace communities? Fancy being remembered for the constructed self we wear like masks between the hours of nine to five. Do you want to be remembered as the guy in the polyester suit? Or as the ragged king of your backyard shed?

Nor do I want to dodder off in my retirement years living off the memory of what I once did as a cog in the machinery of commerce. While the past provides context for one’s appreciation of the present, I don’t ever want to actually return there to live out my slower cadence years…

And I am certain that I don’t want to spend my time living a life focused around managing the impressions others might have of me. If everyone is intent on living a life for the projection they might make on the minds of others, we would all ending up living a lie. Other people are too busy thinking what you might think of them for them to think anything much in the way of substance about you. So we might as well all become outrageous individualists and have much more fun. So, if no one really cares what it is that others actually do, then why not do something few others would think to do? Now there is a canvas on which to write a proper testimonial!

With that in mind, I’ve been wondering what it is that I want to do without the constraint of what other people do and how I might fantasise on what they might think I should do.

All of which helps me to ignore the reactions I have had from all and sundry to my most recent plan. It was a simple plan, but a plan to which, probably, only I would desire to aspire. A non-newsworthy plan. A plan that would probably only be meaningful to me. A selfish plan! But a plan that did not impact on others in any way. A plan without a social wake. A plan that would be incremental, accumulative in achievement, and ever so gradual in its execution. I was after a new record.

I decided to ride my bike every single day for at least a year. No days off. Not one. No matter what. There would be a few conditions. No ride would be less than 1 hour 20 minutes. None would use up less than 800 kcal of energy. These had to be serious rides. My other condition was that no single ride would cause distress; Every single ride would be a ride I wanted to take. I wanted to see if my enthusiasm for cycling could hold up, undiminished, across every single day of an entire year. There would be no forced rides. The record would never be allowed to become the driver of this particular show. Plus, I was curious to see that the physiological effects of such a sustained effort might be. Would I fall apart? Would I be weaker or stronger after such a prolonged endurance as that? Would I hit a fitness plateau flatter than the desert plains? Or would I land in race winning form.

The usual meme is that we cyclists should take off at least one day per week. And then a couple of weeks off at one time. All pro cyclists take extended breaks. But I am no pro cyclist! Most cyclists seem to struggle with the other end of this equation. They tend to lament that the number of rides they take is always less than the number that they would like. So, what if I could ride so much that that particular lamentation could never, even once, enter my mind for the duration of a year? Is it possible to become ‘cycled out’? Is there such a thing as too much cycling? Could I end up hating my riding? Is there a limit to my cycling passion?

I will admit that the timing was right. I work for myself these days. So I am in charge of my schedule more now than has ever been the case before. But, then again, when I was in a more regular workplace grind I had the opportunity to commute every day. Commuting is the easiest possible way to tote up the miles and fit a riding schedule into any day. Indeed, for me, commuting was the only way I could stick with my previous teaching career. The riding to and from work was, by far, the best part of the job.

But now the results are in. The year is done. 365 rides (sometimes two per day) over 356 days, 19,211.6km (11,937.5 miles) distance covered, 416,000 kcals used up. 6 tyres, five chains, 669 hours in the saddle.

I am pleased to report that every day was a good day for a ride. Every day was a day on which I rode. No days off; none required, none wanted. This was no forced march; no self-bribes were needed, no little psychological tricks were needed to motivate me out the door. This was a big result! The passion did not pale. My experiment only made my obsession with cycling worse!

While there wasn’t really any particular secret sauce involved in pulling off such a plan, there were some things that helped me along the way . First, I had a nice variety of rides to retain the interest and sustain enthusiasm. All I needed was a simple repeating pattern of five different routes; three on sealed road routes and two in the dirt. The sealed road routes were spread across three road bikes and the dirt road routes were mainly on my cyclocross bike. There were around 20 rides on mountain bikes in the mix as well. It’s good to have a modest stable of machines to spread the load. Mixing off and on-road routes keeps the interest sustained.

But what happened when it rained? Or when it was blowing a cyclonic gale. Or both? There were at least 3 weeks in the mix of days just like that. No problems with my CycleOps indoor bike! I recall more than a few days spent riding in front of the TV when Le Tour was on the screen… Of all the bikes I have ever owned, the CycleOps Pro 300PT is the one I would claim to be really fundamental to my needs. I’m thinking that this is the bike I will probably ride most when I am in my nineties and beyond…

And for all those who might wonder at the loss of those 669 hours, or how it might be possible to find such a consistent space in what we might consider to be our perpetually time oppressed lives, I reckon I have this to say: how much time do you spend watching the TV? How much time do you waste driving to work? How much time do you waste asleep? I remain to be convinced that finding at least 1.20 per day is beyond anyone I know. I’ve heard all the excuses people make, and I hear the sincerity of their delusions that these excuses are actually real. But, I have yet to meet (a cycling capable) someone who could not be creatively re-organised to find the necessary time to put cycling into his or her daily routine. If you spend any time at all at the gym, you have just proved my point. If you work within a one hour ride from home, what’s your excuse? Just like religion and belief in the sanctity of the market place, the mind can believe just about anything it wants and if it wants to believe that there is no time for a ride, then that belief can appear to be pretty real. The problem is that that reality will persist until you take a leap and live a life in the parallel universe usually reserved for your dreams. Then the reality of your previous certainty becomes a certainty that that reality was actually unreal. The key is to take a leap. Just like Columbus. Yes you can!

All of which is not to suggest that there were no problems with my year without a break. I did have a problem and I have that problem now. I can’t stop riding! It’s time for a day off… Tomorrow. Maybe. As for that eulogy for the end of my days. I have it now. ‘He was a cyclist. A cyclist to the core’.

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