2016 - New Years Resolutions

I'm reasonably pleased with last years results...I had a good year. My plan for next year is to build on that. I'm going to be a bit more focused, as I have 2 quite time-consuming activities to work on...

Cycling Goals

  1. Risk Losing - This one sounds weird, but there is rationale behind it. I play it too safe in pack races... I'm too concerned about blowing up. I need to trust my ability and my training more, and risk putting more effort into the end of races, to put myself in a position to score points.

  2. Get my Cat 2 License - This will be hard. I will need to accumulate 40 points (equivalent to 4 race wins, or 40 10th places). I'm coming into the year physically pretty fit, but I need to convert that to race performances, which will involve improving my race-craft. as of 1st January 2016 I'm eligible to race in Masters C races (40+ age group), so I have a wider selection of races to enter.
    • As a sub-part of this, I want to specifically target the ORRL. I've swapped clubs from Reading CC (who don't really have a race team, focused more on Time Trialling and Audaxes/sportives) to GS Henley (who do have a decent race team), so should be able to look to a bit more support from team-mates. Also, their kit is nicer.

  3. Top 5% in Closed-Road Sportives - same as last year. I'm not doing Mallorca312 again (once was enough), but for any closed-road mass-participation event, I'll be looking to place highly;
    • Velothon Wales - 22nd May
    • Cambridge Gran Fondo - 5th June
    • RideLondon (entry tbc) - 31st July

These goals have already been handed to my coach, and will form the basis of my training for the next year. This is a significant time commitment (approximately 600 hours across the year).

Health Goals

Not having any...folding this into cycling, as that is a better driver for any gains I need to make in this area. My weight matters less if I have more power.

Entertainment Goals

  1. Discover 4 new authors - Same as last year...keep a list of books to read, and make sure that I try new authors. I'll use the various book awards as resources here.

  2. Be aware of new music - again, vague but suitable. This just means that I need to occasionally turn off the play-list, and go hunting for stuff that strikes a chord with me. 90% of my music listening is during training, and I gravitate towards higher energy/tempo music these days.

Personal Goals

  1. Put 10% of Wages into Gross Savings - I'm already doing this, however I want to commit to continue doing it. In the latter part of 2015 long term finances once again reared their head. Generally speaking, I'm in an OK position (I've been paying a pension since I was 21, and we've been lucky on the house), however I'm concerned about the long-term viability of my job, so building up a catch-net of finances is a good thing. I say Gross, as this savings pot will probably be dipped into for some things (holidays, for example), however we don't really spend that much on them.

  2. Improve my Baking - Feedback from my GBBO entry from last year was that I need more variety and experience, and better presentation skills. I'm going to give it another shot this year, and will be spending the next 8-10 months building towards that. I've had a few recommendations to blog about it...in 2 minds about that (there are millions of blogs already on the subject, however documentation of process always helps). Specifically, I need to move beyond loaf-tins and pound-cakes.
    • I'll aim to do one major new bake per week, with repetition/improvement as required (as I did with macarons). This is a fairly major time commitment, and the main reason I've reduced my Entertainment Goals down from last year (I spend a lot more time in the kitchen).


Nice, clearly defined goals there, mate. I'm trying to do the same.

brainwipe's picture

Cheers. I found it massively useful in the last couple of years getting them written down, and then reviewing them quarterly.

Just trying to see if I can embed my Strava log in the above post, so that this becomes a bit more relevant as a post for the year...

babychaos's picture

Have you come across Vitalic yet? He maybe relevant to your musical interests. Next I'm Ready, being a stand out track imo

Nibbles's picture

Hmmm...bit too Sheep on Drugs/KMFDM for me really.

This is the most recent album I picked up...tends to be from the goth/industrial areas


babychaos's picture

There's no denying Vitalic is at the ravey end of rave.

That is very goth. Some would say fairly emo. Not me though. I would never accuse you of emo leanings. Ever.

Nibbles's picture

Quite like Dommin, I'll pick that up with this month's budget.

brainwipe's picture

How is your Placebo fascination coming along?

babychaos's picture

You've lost me.

brainwipe's picture

I was talking to the wannabe-scottish emo.

babychaos's picture

They're no that bad laddie! :D

Nibbles's picture

To be fair I can go even further down the emo well. Give 'Chains' by Many Things a listen. Ideally with the video... it's like Neil from the young ones got even sadder.

Nibbles's picture

Approaching the end of the first quarter of 2016, so time to see how I'm doing. it's been a fairly hectic few months for me, with not a huge amount of downtime (depending on your definition of downtime I suppose). I said at the stat of the year that I had two big, time consuming goals, and both of those have indeed been time-consuming!

1) Risk Losing - I've not had the best luck in the limited racing I've done so far this year, as the weather has been against me. I've had 4 races, of which I've had the chance to do one stupid, glorious move, which I duely did, had my legs fail about 300m from the finish, and rolled in last. Race season properly kicks off in May, so I'm not too worried yet, though I'm missing a race tomorrow as (yet another) weather front moves in, dishing out gale-force winds.

2) Get cat2 License - Again, limited racing, though training is generally going well. So far this year I've cycled 3,000 miles, and starting to see some good performances in key race skills (basically, short power bursts, interspersed with longer threshold efforts). I'm moving into a new training period now, where (hopefully) we can convert the miles I've logged over winter into good performance. I had a great week training in Spain at teh beginning of March, and I have another week in April to cycle in Tenerife, just before racing properly kicks off for the year.

3) Top 5% in Closed-roads sportives - First one of these is Velothon Wales in May. This year we have a big team from Reading Cycling Club. My entry for RideLondon has been confirmed too, and hopefully I'll get a place in the first wave.

4) Discover 4 new authors - going well, with Katherine Addison and Michael Cobley read so far this year. Can't honestly claim to be hooked on either of them though. I have read Joseph Lallo's Big Sigma series though, and it's very good (and the 4th one landed on my Kindle this week, so looking forward to that!)

5) Be aware of new music - Not done too much on this front, mainly due to a lack of time in front of the PC with not much to do.

6) Put 10% of Gross Earnings into Savings - I'm actually fixed into this now. HSBC opened up a 1 year saver where you cannot access the funds, so I've started one of those up with 10% of my gross wages diverted in at the start of the month.

7) Improve my Baking - OK, here is the one that's taking up time. I've been doing a lot of baking. Seriously...loads. If you're on Facebook ,you'll see that I occasionally put photos up of stuff I've been doing....that's not the half of it.

I've started putting everything I do on a blog. I've not advertised it, it's more a record for me of what I've done, and where I need to improve. It does, however, give you a decent idea of what I've been up to. It should serve as my cookery book going forward, and it's been handy for when I've found more than one way of making something, I can go and find my preferred way of making it from there, rather than rifling through cookery books, websites, and random text files I have on Google Drive. Forcing myself to take photos also makes me think more about the presentation of the food, which is key.

I've been vaguely themeing months. February was "pastry", and March was "chocolate"...this wasn't exclusive, but it was a driver for me to try some stuff I hadn't done before. April will probably be the slightly un-catchy "Simple things done well", where I go back to basics a bit, and rather than do complex, instead do very, very neat and precise work. I also need to re-visit some stuff I did last year, and make sure I have proper recipe notes for them, as well as some decent photos.

babychaos's picture

Your blog is quite simply, awesome.

Bigger Rob's picture

Thank you.

It's working well as an inventive to note down how I work, and also list off things I'd do differently. It does make me wish we had lighter kitchen surfaces though, as all the photos come out quite darkly...

babychaos's picture

Halfway through the year, and hasn't it been interesting?

It's been a pretty full on 3 months...race season has kicked off in earnest, so my training schedule has now got a bit more about maintaining fitness and health when I'm not racing.

1) Risk Losing - A quick count suggests I've done 18 races in the last 3 months...I've missed a few due to poor weather, however I have most definitely carried through with my promise to myself to race in an attacking and aggressive manner. This isn't racking the points up (it's a fairly high risk strategy in races, especially flat ones, as they tend to come down to bunch sprints, which I suck at), however there have been some notable moments;

  • Being in a 2-man break with 2 miles to go in a race, and blacking out while still on the bike. Bonus points: didn't crash, just came to bouncing across the grass by the track (just as a note, this is nothing health related. It was a very warm day, I'd already cycled about 50km before the face, and hadn't taken on enough fluids. To compound that, I'd taken on 2 very high-strength caffeine gels)
  • Winning a Combativity Award at the hilliest race of the year, after attacking on lap 1 (did half of it solo off the front), attacking on lap 2, pulling back a break on lap 3, attacking on lap 4, and finishing in the front group on lap 5.

I may not be getting that many points, but I'm ruining a lot of other peoples race-plans about sitting in to the end!

Generally, training wise I'm doing about 14 hours a week (not including commutes), and I have just shy of 7,000 miles of cycling in my legs.

2) Get my cat2 License - I've had some points in races (18 at this point, and I need 40). Most notably a first place (2-man break for 45 minutes in a 1-hour race), which I'm really chuffed with. All my points have come from breaks, and I see my constant attempts to form breaks as a sort of advert...the key thing about getting a group off the front of a race is full commitment, and I think I've proved I have that (see the "blacked out" comment above!). I've got another 3 months of racing to go, and I'm not seeing any signs of fitness drop-off or fatigue yet, so hopefully I can keep the pressure on, and get some more points.

It's not points related, but I was also a member of the GS Henley Team-Time-Trial squad that won the 25-mile TTT for the Oxfordshire Road Race League, which I was really chuffed with. We held a pace of 27.5mph, and beat 2nd place by a minute.

3) Top 5% in Closed Roads Sportives - Velothon Wales is done, and I came top 30 (out of 15,000), so target hit. It was a much harder event this year, with the front pack hammering it. I missed the front group by about 20 seconds over the main climb, and had a near crash close to the end. Still a great day out. I didn't do the Cambridge Gran Fondo...a combination of bad weather, and needing a weekend near home to sort out mundane stuff. I have RideLondon at the end of July, and I'm hoping for a first wave slot, after being top 100 in terms of pace last year.

4) Discover 4 New Authors - My reading has slowed down a bit, mainly as I'm typically falling asleep by 10pm at the moment! I have a list of books to read on the Kindle, mostly new authors. I've read a book by Ted Kosmatka (The Flicker Men...it was OK, based on some concepts around quantum mechanics and the human soul), and currently reading one by Jay Posey (Outriders...basically the SAS in space). I've actually been playing a fair bit of games in my spare moments...Hitman is doing a great job of providing a bit of short play-time relief!

5) Be Aware of New Music - I've actually gotten round to adding some new stuff to my main play-lists, from new artists, though only technically. Most of it is side-projects from the people behind Celldweller and Blue Stahli. Nethertheless, Klaypex, Scandroid and Comasoft are into the schedule!

6) Put 10% of Gross Earnings into Savings - I don't really want to get into the recent political bullshit, however as a general rule, in times of uncertainty savings are key. As such, I'm endeavouring to sweep any unused money each month into savings, and (as the future situation becomes a bit clearer), I may set some additional goals in terms of what sort of savings stockpile I consider sensible.

7) Improve my Baking - I'm still baking a lot of stuff, typically making my own bread, desserts, and also handing out diabetes to the entire office. I've embarked on a little mini-project to re-create some Huntley & Palmers biscuits from the turn of the century (I spent a day at MERL researching their old cookery books, and have a number of recipes to convert and try). My presentation skills still need a lot of work, and I think I need to really focus on that.

babychaos's picture

Third update of the year, well-timed, as I'm just going into my "off-season", so it's a bit of (sort of) R&R, and starting to plan for next year.

1) Risk Losing With the race season over, I'm both happy and slightly disappointed. Generally speaking, I've raced aggressively, and pushed hard, especially in same-category races. The results have not been great though, and I lack power and race-craft towards the end of races. Quite simply, I'm not a powerhouse, but I do have a good endurance engine. I won't be racing again until December (start of next season), so before then I need to go away, and do some work both on my top-end strength, and also have a think about how I expend my efforts in a race.

2) get my cat2 License Didn't happen. I'm 12 points shy (28 out of 40), and I've decided not to try and chase points late in the season, as right now I'm simply not strong enough to race at cat2 level (or more precisely, I'm not strong enough to score points). There are positives...I held my fitness from December all the way through to (nearly) the end of September...my back gave out about 2 weeks ago, not in a debilitating manner, but enough to make me nurse it through. I know where I need to improve, and that will become the focus of my training through the off-season and into next year.

3) Top 5% in Closed Roads Sportives Done. RideLondon was the last one, and I came 42nd out of ~22,500 finishers (a lot more people were diverted adn had the route shortened). I'm particularly chuffed that I snuck under 4 hours, which only 70 people did in total. It was a big day on the bike, as afterwards I rode back from Central London, putting another 45 miles in my legs. I also helped a friend competing in the Henley Highwayman a couple of weeks ago, towing him round the bike leg in 6h18m, to score top points, and setting him up for a podium in the 2-day competition (he came 2nd on a points technicality, but in terms of elapsed time he was faster than the winner by 15 minutes).

I've already set up a new challenge for next year, having signed up for the RideAcrossBritain Ultra, which is taking me back to when I first clambered on a bike in 2009, and signed up for the original RideAcrossBritain. My already significant mileage is going to have to step up next year, 200 miles a day in the saddle is a serious challenge, and I'll have to put some thought into various aspects of the ride before then!

4) Discover 4 New Authors I've not done a huge amount of reading in the last 3 months...I tend to find myself falling asleep in the early evenings. One series I did start, and really enjoyed, was Ian Tregellis and his Alchemy Wars series...a nice take on Steampunk. Got a fortnight in Mexico coming up, so I'm planning to load up the Kindle, and get some good reading done out there.

5) Be Aware of New Music Again I have done occasional scans of stuff, though ironically I was just last night sorting out a playlist to load onto my tablet for Mexico, and went retro, so it's all 90's and early 00's stuff.

6) Put 10% of Gross Earnings into Savings The savings continues, though I might have spent a small mount on a new bike. In my defence, I was going to get one last year, but held off due to some uncertainty on regulations (disc brakes, and if they were allowed on road bikes). They probably aren't, so I picked up a Canyon Aeroad, which is a silly bit of kit. That will be my race bike for next year, and the Pina will be used as a winter race/training bike.

7) Improve my Baking Fuck Love Productions, and Channel 4. As it now stands, there will not be GBBO in 2017, and the chances of the program being even slightly the same are pretty low. A bit of a shame, as having watched the series to date, I'm of a reasonable level of confidence that I could do all the challenges. I've done a few of the technical challenges in a timed environment, and with no/limited recipe details with no issues.

The only positive is that I'm now into a diet, trying to knock off some of the weight I picked up by eating my way out of fatigue. I'm a little happier about dialling back the level of baking for a bit.

So, generally speaking, a decent year...I'm looking forward to the challenges I throw at myself next year, but I'm also looking to turning off for a couple of weeks in Mexico.

babychaos's picture

Was chatting with Gill last night about resolutions, and I need to finalise next years, however first off need to see how I did this year.

1) Risk Losing - Ohh, I did that. I finished the year with a couple of big races, with riders well above my own category. They were...educational. I'm now back into a base-training phase, which involves building up the bodies tolerance to exercise, so that when race-season properly kicks off (March-April) I can cope with the additional stresses on the body.

One thing I was really proud of was winning the G.S. Henley Chairmans Award, for (officially) "riding above and beyond the call of duty for the team", or (un-officially) "attacking in the face of reason" during the GS. Henley round of the ORRL. The trophy is sitting next to the Wattbike, and it will serve as motivation to keep pushing on the harder sessions.

2) Get cat2 License - as before, didn't happen, and I simply was not strong enough at the end of the race. My training is already working on that, with a series of short, hard efforts (ranging from 10 seconds to 5 minutes). I finished the season a little down, but generally I have my mojo back, and looking forward to the 2017 season (which has technically already begun, as licenses reset on 1st December). I'm more looking forward to the temperature going up right now!

3) Top 5% in Closed Roads sportives - done with gusto. The Ultra RideAcrossBritain has been cancelled (not enough idiots signed up), so I'm currently at a bit of a loose end for a "big" challenge next year. Got a couple of options that I need to work through...there is a possibility of heading to Mallorca in October to take part in the European Masters Road Race Champs.

4) Discover 4 new authors - I did indeed do a massive amount of reading in Mexico, though it was nearly all 1 author (E.M Foner), which was perfect holiday reading. I quick check of my Kindle reading list suggests 9 new authors this year.

5) Be aware of new music - I spent the latter part of the year browsing through PledgeMusic, which is a slightly kickstarter'y thing for bands...it seems to have a lot of existing artists on there who are out of contract, but getting fans to pre-pay for studio time. I've backed a couple of artists (all ones I've got previous material from), I think next year I'll try and be a bit more pro-active in listening to the demos on there, and seeing if anything clicks with me.

6) Put 10% of Gross Earnings into Savings - done, and even though I've had a bit of a splurge in the final quarter (new bike, new TV incoming) I've kept the savings separate. I'll probably do the same next year as well, and ring-fence the savings to date so that I don't just blow the money on something shiny...

7) Improve my baking - tricky to be objective on this one, however I believe that I'm technically far better now. I've been using my blog as a virtual notebook/recipe record, and there are currently about 150 recipe run-throughs on there, as well as some more random stuff about cycling, and where I have worked through some issues I was having with various baking things. I think next year I need to tick some more methods off, and I want to do more in-depth process on the "basics", to make sure I have some bullet-proof core processes to fall back on. To some extent I already have these, but it's good to get them well documented.

Finally...top moments of the year (in no particular order)

  • Coming first in the ORRL TTT with the GS Henley Team.
  • Winning my first ever race. I know plenty of strong riders who have never won a race, so this is (and will remain) a big thing for me.
  • The Woodcote ORRL race, where my job was to attack, and I did so enough that I put every other team's sprinter out the back of the race. Our sprinter duely won, textbook race from the team.
  • Getting the elusive sub-4 hour RideLondon time, then celebrating by cycling back home from Central London.
  • Bit sad, but really loved the Mexico trip...I find it pretty hard to have a "do nothing" holiday, and I think we struck a great balance on it. Got to see Chichen Itza (90% of my knowledge of that comes from Civ), and swim in an underground cavern.
  • Watching Gill perform on stage back in February (she has a lead part in another play for April next year!)
babychaos's picture