2015 - New Years Resolutions

So, scored fairly averagely last year. Time to step up and see if I can do any better in 2015.

Cycling Goals

I've already agreed some targets with my coach for 2015.

  1. Be Competitive. Currently in races I can stay with the main pack, but when it comes to the end of the race I lack a sprint, and the power to be contending for positions. That needs to change, and I need to be vying for top-10 positions
  2. Get my cat3 license. This will be pretty much a validation of number 1...if I can start consistently getting top-10 positions, I'll start getting points, and 12 points gets me my cat3 racing license. This will open up a lot more options of where and when I can race - Deadline of 30th November 2015
  3. For any targetted non-race events (aka sportives) finish in the top 5% of all times. Currently I have 2 targetted events planned and booked;
    • Mallorca 312 - 25th April
    • Velothon Wales - 14th June

These will form the basis of my training (which equates to about 10-14 hours a week).

Health Goals

In some way related to the cycling ones, though also I'm going to be hitting 40 in 2016, so anything I can do to improve my physical well-being now will go a long way to stop the natural degeneration we all get.

  1. Drop weight. I'm currently about 67kg, and in order to support my cycling goals, I'd like to get down to at least 63kg for Mallorca 312. I'd then aim to stay at sub-65kg for the rest of the year - Deadline of 25th April 2015
  2. Healthy Diet - I snack too much. I need to eat more protein, less simple carbohydrates. This is a tricky one to target, for the first 3-4 months of the year I will be on a controlled weight-loss, and then after that it will be working on a maintenance plan. One key goal will be adding in more variety to my diet.

Entertainment Goals

  1. Read books by 4 new authors - this will be the third year of doing this, and it's worked very well. More than happy to continue doing this.
  2. Play more computer games - I have (almost, just been sent back to have the SSD's installed) a new gaming rig, and I've gotten into the habit of playing "casual" games, rather than get in a high-quality gaming session. I shall set myself the target of finding 2 enjoyable story-based games, and completing them - Deadline of 31st December
  3. Be aware of new music - again, a bit vague, but listen out for new bands, don't just settle for what you've already listened to.
  4. Run something at Addington Gardens (a LAN, a boardgames weekend...something)

Personal Goals

  1. Survive a cruise. Yes, we are going on a cruise (7 days around Italy, starting in Genoa, and ending in Venice). This is very much out of my comfort zone, but has the potential to be excellent. If everyone needs a good laugh..you're not allowed in the restaurant without a collared shirt, and there will be probably 2 black-tie evenings. I also suffer from sea-sickness.
  2. Start overpaying mortgage - we keep saying this, but not much comes of it. Get a better grip on my finances, and start funnelling more money into paying off the house.
  3. Learn a new skill - wasn't sure if this should be cycling-based or not. I intend to learn bike maintenance, and I've set myself the goal of building myself a winter bike from component parts - Deadline of 30th September 2015


Crikey! I'd better get mine written down. Any on there you think might be at risk?

brainwipe's picture

Oh god yeah. The entire "score points in racing" is going to be really tough. I'm up against people half my age, and with no sense of self-preservation. Crashes are rife (and not just "oh I've fallen over" crashes either...see left for the sprint finish to a race I was at), and I'm not prepared to risk my neck. Also, the races I'm doing favour strong riders, and I'm simply not a big powerhouse. A lot of my training is currently focusing on very short, hard efforts in at attempt to build strength, but I don't tend to put on muscle...

For the entertainment challenges, probably the hardest will be the gaming one. The current trend is for open-world games, and I tend to lose interest in them. I'm not really one for "complete all the arbitary challenges we've scattered around", and prefer a game with a more guided story (I was thinking on this, and the games I've done best with are stuff like Max Payne, Half-Life etc etc), so I need to find some games that work for me.

More generally, with the health-related ones, it's keeping the focus. I should be OK up to the end of April, as Mallorca 312 is a big challenge to work towards...after that i need to make sure that I keep as series of goals in the 2-month future zone.

babychaos's picture

So, I'm quarter of the way through the year (fuck me that's gone quickly). Time for an update on the resolutions, see where I am.

Cycling Goals

1) Be Competitive - getting there. I've had 7 races so far this year, and highest finishes are 4th and 6th. the rest have been pack finishes, outside the top 10. I also had a glorious, and entirely unsuccessful breakaway attempt...2 of us spent 35 minutes holding off from the pack by about 20-30 seconds, before exploding and getting caught.

2) Get cat3 license - I'm 2 points off it, which equates to a single 8th place or better finish. This is sort of good, sort of awkward, as it means I have to plan races week-by-week, as once I have my cat3 license I will be entering a completely different set of races.

3) Events - I've gained one more, as I was successful in the RideLondon lottery (it's a bit like the London Marathon in terms of entry), so I will be aiming to be top 5% of the finishers on the 2nd August.

I've just completed a training camp in Spain, which was a really good block of training (over 24 hours of cycling in a 7 day period, covering 650km, and over 13,000m of climbing). I'm also changing my coach from a fairly generic service to one that is more local (it's the guy who ran the training camp). He knows me, has ridden with me, and hopefully should be better placed to focus my training.

Health Goals

1) Drop weight - not been so successful with this. I'm currently in the 66kg region...I gained a bit of weight on the camp (you have to eat a lot to recover from the big daily mileage). I don't think I'll be getting down to 63kg for Mallorca...however on the training camp there is a timed effort (12km uphill time trial), and I was about 4% faster than last year...so even though I'm a little heavier, I'm still stronger on the hills, so I'm going to lower the priority of this, and instead keep a focus on strength and fitness.

2) Healthy Diet - It's generally OK...I've discovered some healthy main meal options. I still snack a bit. There is a bit of a challenge coming my way, as the work restaurant is shutting, which means I'll need to come up with alternate breakfast plans (I normally get a bowl of porridge). I'll figure that out over Easter.

Entertainment Goals

1) Read 4 new authors - been cracking on with this. Read a couple of books by John Scalzi, one by Brandon Sanderson, one by John Grossart, one by Joseph Lallo, and I've just started on a book by Ann Leckie...so I've already hit my target there... I've also read Neal Ashers new book (a return to the Polity universe), and Joe Abercrombies latest entry in the "Half a..." series.

2) Play more computer games - I've tried to engage with a couple of big-name titles (Assassins Creed - Black Flag, and Far Cry 4), but for some reason they don't grab me. The Sunday gaming sessions have, however, produced enjoyable sessions of Gauntlet, Hammerwatch and a re-visit of Torchlight 2. I'm still missing that single-player game that just grabs me with the story though...

3) Be aware of new music - nothing much happened here...I've picked up a couple of new tracks, but mainly new stuff from existing artists. I've been fairly busy, so not had a real opportunity to sit down and listen to new bands.

4) Run something at Addington Gardens - not really done much on this front either...

Personal Goals

1) Survive a cruise - apart from it being the only holiday I have planned this year that doesn't involve cycling, not much to do on this one (apart form pay for the thing)

2) Start overpaying mortgage - we've discussed this, and our finances should settle in May, so we will start then. The motorbike payments have finished, which is one of the first steps.

3) Learn a new skill - not done anything solid on this yet. I have a large book (Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintainence), and done some background reading, but need the weather to warm up before I'm going to be spending much time in the garage. I've mainly contented myself with studying my bike, asking questions, and getting my head round the various components.

babychaos's picture

So, nearly halfway through the year. Time for another review of how the resolutions are going...

Cycling Goals

1) Be Competitive - On Target - Looking OK (and given number 2 below happy to call this done for this year) I'm now up to 16 competitive races this year (with another 13 planned in until mid-September, when the race season finishes)... I'm now reasonably confident riding in a fast pack, doing a bit of attacking, and (more often than not) finding a nice big bloke to hide behind and save energy. Most of my racing is on circuits, but done a couple of road races, and also a town-centre crit (brutal).

2) Get cat3 license - Done! - Got the final points on the 9th May at Hillingdon. Great one to tick off, and this lets me relax a bit in terms of picing events...instead I can concentrate on getting experience of different types of race and courses. It also lets me enter the higher category races, where a lot of people I know are racing.

3) Events - On Target - Completed 2 of the 3, with (even if I do say so myself) fairly good results.

  • Mallorca 312 - 74th out of 1,432 finishers, with an official time of 9h 29m, but it took me 8 minutes to get over the start line (it was busy!), so my actual time was 9h 21m. Average moving speed 21mph.
  • Velothon Wales - 6th out of 8779 finishers, with an official time of 3h49m. Average moving speed 23mph.

Mallorca 312 was probably the hardest thing I've ever done...the last 100km I was in bits, and it was only the harsh understanding that if I got dropped from the group I was in then I would be stuck doing the last section solo that kept me going. Velothon Wales, in comparison, was fantastic...80km hooning it along in a massive pack, followed by a hard and rapid ascent of The Tumble, which is rapidly becoming one of my favourite bits of road. From then it was a determined break by a small team of skinny climbers to the finish...

Still got a week in the Alps to look forward to in July, which should set me up for RideLondon, and from there a couple of long road races (60-80 miles).

Health Goals

1) Drop weight - Deferred - Still hanging around 67kg, though (as with the Tumble above) it's not impacting my ability to climb, so I'm keeping this one as low priority.

2) Healthy Diet - On Target ...again it goes through phases...when I'm hungry, I'm really hungry. I'm currently more focused on making sure that post-race/training, I get proper macro-nutrients in to let me recover the adapt. I'm taking multi-vits to fill any possible gaps in micro-nutrients. I've also discovered that flat coca-cola is basically rocket fuel when you are racing!

Entertainment Goals

1) Read 4 new authors - Done! - Since the last update I've read a few by Ann Leckie (the first one, Ancillary Justice, was the best), and also gone through books by Joseph Lallo (very good), Wilson Harp (shit!), Phillip Mann (weird), and currently reading "The Machine" by James Smythe (depressing, and weird). I have a few books in the queue, which includes 3 new authors.

2) Play more computer games - At Risk - Had some good Sunday sessions. Dungeon Defenders was good, though the internal balance between the characters is off. Dungeon of the Endless was very good until a known fault wiped our game. I'm looking forward to trying Full Mojo Rampage.

Single-player wise I'm still somewhat in limbo. I have Alien:Isolation, but it's not grabbing me for protracted sessions. What I've played of it is pretty good, and very atmospheric, but I still don't find myself craving another session.

3) Be aware of new music - On Target - I've actually sat down and done a prolonged search for some new stuff, but not a huge amount has grabbed me. I've filled in a couple of back-catalogue items from the likes of Cell Dweller, The Qemists, Blue Stahli etc, but no new artists have grabbed me.

4) Run something at Addington Gardens - At Risk - Struggling to identify a weekend when I can do this in the next few months. Between now and October I have one weekend that isn't already booked up with something.

Personal Goals

1) Survive a cruise - On Target - it's all fully booked and paid for, and excursions have been sorted (we had a choice between Pisa and Florence, everyone said Florence, so we are going to Florence. We have a long day where we are climbing Vesivius, and also visiting Herculaneum, which is again rated by everyone as the better version of Pompeii). I need to sort out a clothing list, and do some shopping, or risk starvation (no collar = no food).

2) Start overpaying mortgage - Deferred - This one isn't going to happen this year now...instead I've upped my savings, and we're going to build a safety net of money. or I'll blow it all on a new road bike over winter. One of the two...

3) Learn a new skill - At Risk - Again not moved forward a huge amount on this, above and beyond some tinkering with my bike. I can now fix and adjust gears, and true a wheel, but it's not anywhere near where I want to be. There has been some groundwork...a shed has gone up in the garden to move all the garden stuff out of the garage, and then I'll set that up into a better workshop (seal the floor, better lighting, and some shelves).

babychaos's picture

Nice one mate, all told the most important stuff looks to be all set.

brainwipe's picture

Just before I head off on my holiday (aka Personal Goal #1), a quarerly review of how I'm doing/done. the cycle racing season is now over until December...I did my last race a couple of weeks ago. The last month has been somewhat marred with injury and illness (well, crashing and food poisoning), but still managed to get a decent chunk of riding in.

Cycling Goals

1) Be Competitive - Done (7/10) - Since I got my cat3 license I've been trying to do as many different types of race as possible...road racing, circuit racing, crit racing and (most recently) a stage race. A few of the races have been significantly above my racing level (including some with [E]lite riders). For these I've been mainly hanging on, which is an achievement in itself. Learnt some valuable lessons that I'll need to work on as I move into next year...one specific issue I have is that I hang too near the back of packs, and risk getting detached from the group during crashes, or if someone drops a wheel. I need to be more positive in races, and hold a position nearer the front.

2) Get cat3 license - Done - This was done a while ago, and since then I've not been too concerned with points, instead looking at race experience. NExt season I'll be back to racing lower level races, with a renewed focus on the 40 points I need for my cat2 license.

3) Events - Done (with gusto) - my last event was RideLondon. I had an OK start time (4th wave off), and with a little bit of early power managed to form a strong pack. I ended up 71st out of ~25,000, which is well inside the top 5% target I had. Well inside.

My favourite sportive of the year was Velothon Wales, and I really hope they get to run it again next year (there was a lot of political noise against it, however the running of it and the route was excellent...I like me a big hill in a ride!)

Health Goals

1) Drop Weight - Deferred - ...however, a late season dose of food poisoning has done wonders from dropping me down to 65.5kg. I've spoken to my coach about this, and I'll put a bit more focus in this next season, with the possibility of a lab test to see if my "ideal" race weight can be determined.

2) Healthy Diet - Done (more to do) - Last few months I've been prepping lunches and breakfasts. Snacking is still an issue, however my plan for when I'm back from holiday is to start doing weekly food plans, and do a lot of up-front prep on Sundays, so that the right amount of healthy food is available when I want to eat. Again, while progress has been made, more importnatly I have a good idea of how I'm going to work moving forward.

Entertainment Goals

1) Read 4 new Authors - Done (with gusto) - Since the last update I've read a few new authors...James Smythe (The Machine - dull), Emily St.John Mandel (Station Eleven - never gets going), Marcus Sakey (Brilliance series - not bad), Tony Gonzales (The Tabit Genesis - very good). For my holiday reading I've lined up some reliable favourites in Joe Abercrombie (Half a War) and Neal Stephenson (Seveneves).

2) Play more Computer Games - At Risk - still struggling to find the motivation to get into a decent story-driven game. Might be a bit easier in the next couple of months, as racing takes a back seat (though I'll still be doing roughly the same ours training)

3) Be aware of New Music - Done (7/10) - while I haven't added too much to my catalogue, I've been keeping my ear out. You do come across some amazing stuff as a complete aside.
Crystallize by Lindsay Sterling - this is apparently the most used piece of music on GoPro videos. If you've seen my RideLondon video, I use another one of her bits of work.
Daft Punk Medley by Pentatonix - acappella. Stunning. How the hell they generate that bass I have no idea.

Lindsay and Pentatonix have also done a collaboration on a cover of Radioactive, originally by Imagine Dragons.

4) Run something at Addington Gardens - At Risk - Yeah...not really had much of a chance to think about this. Any suggestions?

Personal Goals

1) Survive a Cruise - On Target - I'm writing this rather than pack. I have a clean tux and everything ready.

2) Start Overpaying Mortgage - Deferred - money is going into savings instead (well, it was, but we are in the process of booking holidays for next year, so thats all coming out again right now!)

3) Learn a new Skill - On Target - I've slowly started doing some more advanced bike mechanics...gear indexing, re-cabling etc etc. I got a new winter bike (I call him Ned Stark), and due to some build errors when it arrived I had to learn how to fit, align and maintain disc brakes and gear mechs. I have some updates to my race bike (new brake calipers, new chainsets), and I'm hoping to self fit these.

Right, I really should think about packing...

babychaos's picture

Nice work, mate. I can recommend GTAV as a story driven game, post coming soon. Also, love the name of your winter bike.

I'd like to see an ARTEMIS session at Addington.

brainwipe's picture

I've tried the GTA games before...as soon as they added roleplay elements, I found it a tedious drag. Also, they are the very definition of sandbox games, which get me bored very quickly...

babychaos's picture

There isn't much I can contribute, but if it helps at all, the two best story driven games I have played in recent years are Tomb Raider and Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Bigger Rob's picture

They've toned back the roleplay elements in GTAV by way of having 3 separate characters with specialisms they also added virtual triathlons. Some of the heist missions are really good fun although there are only a few of those they were the high point of the game for me and they offer two different approaches to each allowing for some replay ability. I hear the online mode has more of that but it's full of morons so I've avoided it.

I just finished Dragon Age Inquisition which has a strong story and the story missions are awesome but the sidequests are a little tedious a lot of fetch and collect quests. It's a fairly pretty game lots of possible options for your character and the party and character interations are great it has some really fun companion characters Iron Bull was a standout (voiced by Freddy Prince Jr of all people and you wouldn't think it to hear it).

Witcher 3 is quite good the main story is engaging it's more adult and realistic that a lot of rpgs your choices often have a lot of real world consequences it's also the first of the witcher games that I found approachable none of that having to prepare potions ahead of time not being able to use them in combat nonsense. The witcher 2 was so hard I couldn't get through the tutorial without dying on normal mode. The sidequest are also a bit more inventive often a sort of simple detective or treasure hunt thing where you use your enhanced senses to find what monster is killing thing and decide the appropriate course of action (stab it in the face and set it on fire) it's very pretty too.

There are some interesting things on the horizon Fallout 4 Dishonored 2 Assassins Creed Syndicate and Just Cause 3 all show up over the next few months. I also hear good things about the new metal gear game and surprisingly the new mad max game but haven't tried either.

I also enjoyed both of Robs recommendations. Tomb raider had a surprisingly good story and Wolfenstien allowed you to dual wield machineguns and shotguns. Oh and By the way all the tomb raiders including the recent reboot are up to 80% off at the moment on steam.

Evilmatt's picture

2015 is (pretty much) done....

So time to see how I did...


Be Competitive - Yes and No. My race fitness is far better than it was at the beginning of the year, and I can be in the mix at the end of races, though my sprint lets me down, and I still have mental blocks (I don't trust my legs to hold out at the pointy end, and tend to play it too safe). Needs work in 2016.

Get my Cat3 License - Yes. Did this in May, and spent the rest of the year gaining race experience...

Top 5% in Sportives - Yes. I had 3 targetted events;

  • Mallorca312 - 46th out of ~2,000
  • Velothon Wales - 6th out of ~10,000
  • RideLondon - 71st out of ~20,000

Wish I could do that well in proper races! Velothon Wales was probably my event of the year, getting into a 7-man break up The Tumble from the lead group, and then working together to keep the gap.

Generally with cycling, I've had a great year. Swapping coach in April was a good thing, and I'm definitely a stronger rider now, and looking forward to 2016. I'm on target to have cycled ~11,000 miles this year, and I'm coming into 2016 far stronger than I was in 2015. I need to build on confidence in my own ability more, and be prepared to take more risks in races.


Drop Weight - No. As of this morning I'm still 67kg. Renewed focus on this next year
Eat Healthily - Yes and No. I was doing well, however in autumn I fell off the wagon somewhat. Learning to do lots of baking certainly doesn't help!


Read 4 new authors - Yes. With gusto. A quick count of my Kindle reading list for this year indicates 14 new authors, as well as new works by some existing favourites. In the latter half of the year I worked through various award short-lists (Nebula, Arthur C Clarke, Hugo).

Play more computer games - Yes and No. My specific goal was to find a strong story-driven game to get my teeth into, the current trend for open-world, sandbox games doesn't really do much for me. What I've found works best for me is "bite-sized" rogue-likes, where you can have a good session in 30-60 minutes, then walk away (this fits in well with how I typically feel in the evenings after training). Stuff like Torchlight 2 and Psycho Starship Rampage have done well, stuff like Alien:Isolation have fared worse...

Be aware of new music - Yes and No. I've picked up some new music, though no real breakthroughs this year. The last stuff I picked up (Dommin), is playing as I listen to this, and some will be shifted over to my main play-list.

Run something at Addington Gardens - No. General lack of organisation, and (in the latter half of the year, see "Learn a new skill" below) a couple of things came up that removed my weekends.


Survive a Cruise - Yes. Actually pretty good. We didn't have the best weather (including a Force 10 gale that forced us to change ports), but got to see a lot of Italy (Florence, Vesuvius, Herculaneum, Venice) and Dubrovnik. I'd do one again, but I do need to plan for sea-days, as I get a little stir-crazy.

Start Overpaying Mortgage - Deferred. After discussions with Gill this one was removed. Instead building up a cash reserve for emergencies (long story short, not entirely sure how stable my job is long-term)

Learn a new Skill - Yes. (but not the one I was planning on at the start of the year). I'm not allowed to say too much, however I assume that most people know I've picked up the hobby of baking in the last couple of years. I put in an application for GBBO this year, and got a reasonable way in the process (approximately last 300 out of 15,000). I've been given some advice on how to move forward, and a suggestion to reapply next year.

I've been working on the bike maintenance as well...I can do gear set-up and indexing, wheel realignments, and general upkeep work, but still some way short of the hoped for "build a bike" level.

babychaos's picture

Interesting note...that Tumble sign I linked is clearly wrong. 10% for 6km would give you an elevation change of 600m, and I'm pretty certain Abergavenny (the bottom of the climb) is not below sea-level.

babychaos's picture