2017 - New Years Resolutions

I've been procrastinating a lot about goals for next year... I suppose I'm reaching that time of life where your age has actual physical implications, and I'm keen to do as much as possible to delay onset of any health issues. It's fairly well documented that on average, from the age of 40 onwards you lose ~1% of your muscle mass/performance capability per year... I'm now in that age range, and I can expect to find training harder and harder each year. As such, I'm adding in a potentially quite high-impact health-related goal.

Cycling Goals

1) Beat last years points total - 28 points to be specific. I don't want to say "go up to cat 2" (which is 40 points), as I only want to be there if I can realistically maintain the category next year. My general cardio-fitness is more than enough, however I need to improve my strength and position for the last 5-6 minutes of races. There are a myriad of secondary goals based around this, however the points total will be the key metric.

2) Top 5% in Closed Roads Sportives - I have my name down for 2 this year..RideLondon (again...this is a ballot, with results of that due in February), and Velo Birmingham. This is already booked and paid for...totally overpriced, however I have free accommodation.

Health Goals

1) Improve the quality of my sleep - I've been wearing a fitness tracker for the last 6 months. It keeps note of a number of different metrics...some useful, some less so. I've already seen that the HR monitor is not entirely accurate for training with, and the movement tracker doesn't really cope with cycling that well...however one thing that has come out that definitely links up to how I feel is the sleep-tracking capability.

There has been a fair amount of research recently on the impact of sleep on stress levels, cognitive ability and sports performance, and (shock, horror) high quality sleep is really good for you. I've definitely seen a correlation between poor sleep (small amounts of deep sleep, high levels of movement, awakened periods) and how I feel and perform the next day, so this year I'm going to take steps to reduce external factors that can impact sleep;

  • I (like many) have a phone on charge next to me...and a tablet, kindle etc. Even small light sources can be seen through closed eyelids (checked this myself, I can tell when my phone has a notification light flashing with my eyes closed). All items are going to be placed in a drawer (which I'll modify to run all the cables into).
  • Sort out blackout curtains in the bedroom (currently they are just lined)
  • Limit use of self-lit screens for 1-2 hours before bed. Invest in physical blue-light screen-filters where appropriate (the digital ones I've tried tend to screw up phones)
  • Limit caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon (or 6 hours before sleep). I've done a lot of reading about caffeine recently, mainly as I've been working on a heavily caffeinated fudge recipe. One thing that came out of this is that caffeine has a 5-hour half-life in the blood...you get peak blood levels 1 hour after consumption, then it will take ~5 hours for that level to go down by half...so,if you're taking a serious dosage (for enhanced physical performance, 150-200mg is suggested (for reference, a double-expresso has ~80mg), you're looking at 11-12 hours before you start to clear your system. I can say first-hand that this can wreck your sleep (my caffeinated flapjack is well-named)
  • Limit sugar intake in the afternoon/evening. Similar to caffeine, a high GI product will raise metabolic rates.

Entertainment Goals

1) Discover 4 new authors - I've had this for the last couple of years, and it works really well. I always exceed the target, however it encourages me to keep checking out new books

2) Do some console gaming - Final Fantasy XV has encouraged me to step back into console gaming, something I've dipped in and out of in the last couple of decades. There are a few games out there that grab my interest, and there has been a reasonable tech-step forward with HDR graphics (something that PC gaming has lagged behind on for once!). I sold my foosball table, and the (fairly large) space it took up is in the process of being converted into a chill-out area. I've inherited Gill's sofa bed (she wanted an oversized armchair instead), and I've splashed out on a big screen and a PS4 Pro (both being delivered today). I want to get back into the relaxed gaming style I used to have (sofa, tea, feet up with cushions!)

Personal Goals

1) Put 10% of gross earnings into savings - I was able to do this last year, and not really feel any particular squeeze. I've done most of the big purchases, so I should be good to continue this. Last year I had concerns over the stability of my job. I think that has diminished to some extent for the next 12-18 months, however the Uk generally is going to under-go a significant financial change (Brexit), and as always a financial catch-net is a good thing. This latter part of this year sees the end of a few bit of financial jiggery-pokery we did to get the house, so that should mean we can do some more saving hopefully.

2) Continue to improve my baking - Last year for baking was all about improving my background knowledge of techniques and skills. This year I want to work on filling in some gaps, and getting the core techniques down very precisely. A big part of that will be documenting out various techniques (I'm already in he habit of baking with a camera-phone nearby, and a notebook to write down any changes or alterations).

I'd also like to clean up the blog a bit...there is a lot of useful information in there, and it's big enough that some kind of index may be in order. I'll keep it on the Blogger back-end, as that's a really simple system to use (especially with an Android phone, as linking in photos is a doddle)


Some excellent goals. Is the high impact one the Ride Across Britain?

brainwipe's picture

No, that's been cancelled as not enough sign-ups. The sleep one potentially could have a lot of impacts,cwith changes to diet and day-to-day habits

babychaos's picture

OIC! I thought when you meant "high impact", you meant "doing something mental". I'll be interesting to see what you come up with on the sleep front.

brainwipe's picture

Hot on the heels of Rob's update, time for my quarterly check on how the year is going. This is a couple of days early as I'm nipping over to France at Stupid O'Clock on Wednesday morning to burn up some holiday and get some cycling in.

1) Beat last years points goal - I've had an average start to the racing season. I did the Hillingdon Winter Series, racing with riders significantly stronger than me, and on a less-than-ideal set-up (random aside...I've been doing investigation into equipment efficiencies in cycling, alongside aerodynamic position adjustments. It turns out you can lose a remarkable amount of power with some quite basic equipment changes. Winter tyres (typically a firmer rubber compound and a protective layer) can lose you about 10% of your power output!). I didn't get any points, but then again I wasn't expecting to...I treat it as base training.

I'm now on my race bike, and my training has put me back into race performance... I've had one road race, and picked up 7th place (same race last year I was down in the pack, so a definite improvement). Racing kicks off properly once I'm back from France, so now it's very much about keeping my fitness consistent and high for the next 6 months!

2) Top 5% in closed-road sportives - Won't be hitting these until end of July.

3) Discover 4 new authors - reading has been a little slow. I've read a few books, however they tend to have been quite "chuggy", and not the sort of thing I can read chapters at a time. I should have a bit of a catch-up in France, as it will consist of cycling and recovering for a week. Bliss!

4) Do some console gaming - This has been a great success! The chill-out area has been completed, so I now have a sofa, bloody big 4K HDR TV and a PS4 in the space my foosball table used to be. I've actually finished 3 games (virtually unheard of...I'm notorious for leaving games half-finished). There is a specific feature of the PS4 which is perfect for me...you can simply stop playing a game, and then pick up the controller and start up again...no saving, save points etc. This works superbly for me, allowing me to do short sessions in between everything else, and keep up a decent pace on games. The 3 games I've completed;

  • Final Fantasy XV - loved it. Really enjoyable, and never felt like a grind to keep up to level, a pet bugbear of mine. There is additional content coming out, however I'm going to wait for it all to land before going back.
  • Diablo III - I picked this up as it was cheap. I avoided this on PC as it was up against Torchlight 2, which I felt (and still think) is the better game. D3 felt very easy...I picked up a fairly strong Legendary Weapon about halfway, and focused all my enchantments on health regen, and ended up just punching all the major bosses in the face until they died, no tactics involved. Inoffensive fun.
  • The Last Guardian - ohh...this one is hard to do a mini-option of. It's a beautiful game, and the two main characters are genuinely fantastic. I'm a bit of a pet-person, and Trico (the giant cat-bird-thing that accompanies you) really triggered all my pet-liking nodes. This was in spite of some jarringly annoying technical issues...the camera is bloody awful sometimes (while you have nominal control of it with the right thumbstick, it often drifts or snatches away to something the game decides you may want to look at...sometimes useful, sometimes extremely badly timed). There are 3D platforming sections which were infuriating in combination with the camera issues, and some of the puzzles were so non-logical that I ended up playing with a guide to hand. The design of the game is stunning in approach (and I can see why it got so many glowing reviews), but there were a few times when I came extremely close to throwing in the towel.

Next up is Nier:Automata, which looks promising. I'm trying to pick games that make good use of the "Pro" bit of the PS4 Pro, and avoiding game genres I know I dislike (Survival Horror, for exmaple), or genres that simply work better on other platforms (First person shooters...)

5) Put 10% of Gross earnings into savings - I've spent a bit in the first couple of months...new race wheels for my bike, and the trip to France. We've tweaked the household income, and savings should recommence in earnest next month, as everything is then covered. My stand mixer is making funny noises, and might be about to give up the ghost, but thats not the most expensive thing to replace.

6) Continue to improve my baking - this has been going OK. Without going into too much detail I got further in GBBO this year, passing the food test, and getting to a camera test. I'm not in the process anymore, which may be for the best, given the new presenters (I'm sceptical). I would suggest I got into the last 100 or so, which is not bad. I'll now focus on improving my presentation skills, and a continued focus on core technical skills. We did a bake sale at work last week for Comic Relief, and I impressed/horrified everyone by turning out 160 portions of cake, tart, traybake, sweets etc etc. Needless to say we broke the company record for bake sale proceeds (not bad, when you consider the headcount is about half what it was last time we let loose!)

I've skipped the sleep one...it's the vaguest, so hardest to quantify. I'm regularly getting at least 8 hours sleep a night, and aiming to be in relaxation mode by 10pm (check watch...40 minutes to go), and I'm definitely the better for it. I can also confirm that high caffeine doses (normally for races) really trash my sleep pattern. In the month we will probably start to hit "waking up in daylight" time, and I'm going to look into blackout curtains for the bedroom, to see if we can keep it dark. I'm trying to avoid caffeine of any sort in the evening, though I drunk so much during the day I'm unsure what impact that is having.

Race season is going to have an impact on my sleep. Pretty soon I'll be racing Tuesday and Wednesday evenings...that means high intensity exercise to 8-9pm...realistically it takes 2-3 hours for your body to drop back to normal levels, and decent quality sleep is hard. Taking caffeine on in those races will only exasperate matters. It's stuff like this I really need to work with, and make sure I keep myself as balanced as possible.

babychaos's picture

I bumped into the ginger tramp at lunch, and he chastised me for not making him aware of my racing progress (NYR number 1). There was a bit of it on Facebook, a lot of it on Strava, and also on the GS Henley Webpage

Put simply, I've hit my year goal, in a 6-week period. April and May have seen me in a real peak of form, and I've had 21 pack races;

  • 2 x First Places
  • 2 x Third Places
  • 2 x Fourth Places
  • 2 x other top-10 finishes
  • 1 x puncture
  • 1 x black-flagged race (chap hospitalised)

I've also had 5th place in a league Time Trial (with our club getting 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th), and a member of the winning Team Trial Team for the league. End result of this is that last week I gained my 2nd category racing license (hence some obscure references on Facebook to racing cats). It's been quite a surreal 6 weeks, and I've been constantly expecting to fall off some kind of performance cliff. Sunday was particularly insane, where after 50 miles/2 hours of savage, attritional racing (that saw half the entrants spat out the back of the pack) I found myself off the front with three other lads, with 3 miles to go to the finish, and no-one with the legs to chase us. I managed to lose the others over the final climb, and get over the line for my first ever road race win. Completely un-expected, as I'd spent the previous hour helping bring back a 7-man break that had gone up the road, and sort of assumed that I'd burnt all my matches.

So what does this mean? Well, first off I don't have to stress about race points for the rest of the season. 2nd cat is as high as I'm going to go (1st cat is a huge step up, and also has some major logistical implications regarding travelling around the country to qualifying races). I'm able to continue to race ORRL League races, due to a rule allowing catted-up riders to continue once the league has started (not all the clubs were aware of this rule, and I suspect it won't be there next year, as so far every race has been won by a 2nd cat rider), but will only be scoring league points, not race license points. I'll be getting some race experience at higher levels, in preparation for next year when I have to earn 25 points to maintain my 2nd cat license (this is the big difference...you can get relegated from 2nd cat, whereas a 3rd cat license is always maintained).

babychaos's picture

Dr. Ginger Tramp, thankyouverymuch.

Great to see you winning, which we all know is what you started it for.

Now read this with Murray Walker's voice...

It looked all set for a group finish with the best part of a lap left, but with a few miles to go Pete (at the front still, obviously) raised the pace and found himself clear of the bunch for the second time in the race, this time with three other riders (including Antony Turner from Cranks). As the final ascent of Panshill came up Pete’s companions started to fade. Pete’s challenge didn’t though – he hit Panshill with a gap of maybe 10 seconds, and as the other three riders were swamped Pete just kept on going, crossing the line first for his maiden road race win. An awesome end to a stellar week that saw Pete take three podiums in four races and earn himself a well-deserved 2nd cat race licence.

Fucking nora, well done mate.

brainwipe's picture

James was a little gushing in the write-up. From reading up on other riders reports, I think that the repeated efforts up the climb had killed most peoples legs, and a lot of people went down with cramp in the last few miles...so less of a case of me riding off the front, but rather people dropping off. I've probably got the big miles I did over winter to thank for the endurance....that, and the massive doses of caffeine I'd inbibed before the race.

babychaos's picture

It may be true that others dropped off but then you had the endurance. Pulling away from a pack on a hill is being better. I'm going with James's write up, biased as it might be!

brainwipe's picture

Right...halfay through the year. Let's see how things are going.

1) Beat last years points total - sort of smashed this one. Last year I earnt 28 license points in total...this year I would have scored 73 so far, only I stop earning them from certain races once you go over a certain threshold (40). I hit a real peak of form in the latter half of May, with 3 podium finishes in a week, culminating in a win at a league road race. The only downside is that motivation is a little harder to ocme by now, as I have no pressure to get good finishes for the rest of the season. I have a secondary goal to support the club in winning the race league (GS Henley currently have a 47 point lead, and I'm 4th individual).

2) Top 5% in closed road sportives - 1 month to go until RideLondon...I have my start wave position (2nd group off, same as last year where we caught the first group). I have a couple of friends/teammates in the same wave, one of who is shitting it, as he's now aware of just how fast it is!

3) Discover 4 new authors - I've been quite lax on reading...partially as I've been shattered, and falling asleep in the evening. I've mainly been catching up on authors with new books out (Neal Asher, James S.A. Corey, E.M Foner). We have a holiday pencilled in for October, so I might try and line up some books for then.

4) Do some console gaming - this has also fallen somewhat on hard times, due to fatigue levels. I started Nier:Automata, however struggled to get into it. It's a beautiful game, and very well designed, however I'm finding the pace of it a little slow. I've had the new Wipeout:Omega Collection to fill in the quick blast urges, and it's a lovely retro throwback to the Playstation era (and looks stunning in 4K/HDR).

5) Put 10% into Gross earnings - this is still going well, however I have done something that may well impact savings quite heavily in the next year or so. In case you missed it, I proposed to Gill this week...after 9 years of putting up with me it seemed only fair. I've been quite honest that I don't really think marriage does/proves anything, and there is more commitment in a joint mortgage, however it is something for her, and I know it means a lot to her. I hadn't really put any thought into what comes next, however less than 48 hours after, I suspect that cooking dodo steaks over burning tenners would be cheaper. Some comedian has put a "Guides for Brides" booklet on my desk this morning, and just the master checklist (each bullet-point has it's own sub-checklist, naturally) makes me want to cry.

Pete...last of the romantics.

6) Continue to improve my baking - I'm totally doing my own wedding cake. I've mainly been doing classics, and tweaking recipes as and when I do stuff, and then once or twice a month I'll tackle something new (for example, I recently learnt to do a joconde sponge, which is a type of sponge usedfor patisserie slices and shaped cakes).

babychaos's picture

Congrats on the engagement for the wedding cake how about something classic like this :)

Evilmatt's picture

There should have been bride and groom figures gripped in the tentacles!

fish's picture

Well done on your goals, mate. I couldn't believe the week when you kept getting podiums, well done. That's hard work paying off big style. Take care on Ride London!

You've always been a romantic and marriage isn't really about romance. I was surprised when I saw the facebook update, knowing your views. It does make sense; the definition of commitment is doing something that means a lot to your partner. Do the wedding your/Gill's way. Don't be swayed on what other people say/do. Including me.

brainwipe's picture

Idid actually forget that I have a bonus goal for the year...

7) Learn to drive - this one is actually linked to me getting my 2nd cat race license (bear with me!). Next year I'll need to travel more to get to races, as I can now only race Regional A and above (I get a bit of leeway this year with league races, which are Regional B), and most races are in the arse end of nowhere, with little/no options to get to them by train...so I'm going to learn to drive to I can ride my bike.

I don't much fancy weekly lessons, so instead I'm going to do a 5-day intensive course in October. I've done my theory (again...the motorbike theory has 4 different questions, so for a car you have to redo the entire thing), and also re-done the hazard perception (getting a pass mark in the top 0.2% of results...turns out having an advanced motorbike license helps with observation). This is very similar to how I learn to ride the motorbike...in theory I shouldn't have many issues with road awareness, however getting used to a clumersome vehicle that can't filter, do 0-60 in under 3 seconds, and has corners will take some getting used to.

babychaos's picture

There are always alternatives for those who reject cars and everything they stand for:

And the concept is legal

Bigger Rob's picture

I did do a lot of looking into it, as well as building a prototype last summer, however there were a number of issues (most to do with stability and the bike acting as a sail in any sort of side-wind). A trailer would require significant modifications to the bike (feed-through electrics, towbar mount. My bike as a single-side swingarm, which is not compatible with any bike-trailer system on the market). One way or another I worked out I'd end up having to get custom fabrication done...

The end result is that it's cheaper to learn to drive...which is remarkable given the cost of driving lessons in the UK. I'll have access to Gills Seat Ibiza, and it turns out that my advanced years means that I don't suffer the teenager-spike of insurance cost (in fact, if you carefully craft the answer, I've had a full licence for over 13 years! Just don't ask about what validations it has...)

babychaos's picture

In that case, welcome to the motor car club, enjoy the many future hours ahead of you, sitting in traffic wishing you were on the motorbike that just shot past.
The Bike-bike rack is impressive, even more so that is made it as far as a road test!

Bigger Rob's picture

Hopefully I shouldn't have too much of an issue. I literally only need a car when I'm transporting myself and the bike at the same time (or very occasionally massive volumes of cake), so to a race. Fortunately/unfortunately they are in the middle of nowhere, and at exceedingly un-sociable hours (typically setting off for races about 6:30am on a Sunday). Otherwise I will cycle, or use the motorbike. I'd never commute in a car...I have no idea why anyone does, especially in the Thames Valley carpark! Gill drives to work twice a week, and it takes her 3x longer than me cycling in on my not-that-fast commuter bike. The motorbike takes the same amount of time as the bike, as I can't take as direct a route, and get delayed at Cemetary Junction.

Looking at the distances I did last year, I cycled ~20,000km (12,500 miles) and rode the motorbike ~1,000km (625 miles). If I do 10-12 races, I might equal the motorbike distance.

babychaos's picture

Not quite the end of the quarter, but I know I'm going to be very busy for a couple of weeks.

It's been a rather mixed-up quarter. I've gotten engaged, and then spent 7 weeks in plaster after (probably) the most serious physical injury I've sustained. This has played merry hell with some targets!

1) Beat last years points total - I had sort of gone off the boil a bit in terms of fitness, and was mainly looking to secure the ORRL for GS Henley. I actually crashed in the penultimate ORRL race (the crash itself was frustrating, as it was down to a couple of people at the front of a fast-moving pack not paying attention and touching wheels, taking down 10 other riders on a flat, straight bit of road). I had a choice between hitting a pile of bikes at 30mph, or hitting the verge at 30mph. I chose the verge, but landed heavily on my wrist, fraturing the radius. 7 weeks in plaster meant my training was limited to hour long sessions (sweat being the biggest issue...I ended up removing and replacing the cast almost nightly, with fresh stockinette to stop any issues with damp, warm skin getting infected. I was able to complete the last ORRL race, but was (un-surprisingly) not quite at my best...fortunately I was able to wear out the other clubs enough that in the finish we had a fresh lad who was able to grab all the league points, and win the league. I've done a couple of other races just to keep my eye in, but really it's a focus on next year now, and maintaining my 2nd cat license in 2018.

2) Top 5% in closed-road sportives - I broke my wrist the weekend before RideLondon, and once the fracture was confirmed I had no choice but to defer my entry to next year (riding in a cast would not be viable...I couldn't use the brakes, and it would have been agony). I was able to do Velo Birmingham the weekend just gone, and while my endurance had taken a hit, I was able to be 12th over the line (out of 16,000), in a time of 4h34m. I originally called Velo Birmingham overpriced, however was really impressed with the organisation, and some of the features that it offered above and beyond it's competitors...free photos (normally £20+), lots of marshals and motorcycle outriders (we had a motorbike tracking our pack pretty much all the way), and a genuinely challenging course, just constant up and down for 100 miles, with over 2,000m of climbing (more than double RideLondon).

A decent result after a prolonged time off the bike...I'm now officially in off-season, and looking forward to some relaxing, non-targetted riding in Mallorca in a couple of weeks, before starting the ramp up to the 2018 season.

Interesting fact (possibly) - it's illegal to drive/ride a motorbike with a broken arm or leg, but no such limits on bikes. Rule 90 of the Highway Code covers the "Fitness to Drive" requirements, but is only relevant to cars and motorcycles...it comes under a DVLA-enforced rule over licenses. It's one of a series of slightly daft issues with the Highway Code (others being the quite high profile issues regarding dangerous riding and "illegal" equipment (the London incidnet where a muppet was using a track bike), mobile phone use etc etc. I'd have zero issue with most of the car rules being applied equally to cyclists. The only weird one is speeding, as getting accurate speed on a bike is tricky, and for 99% of cyclists would never be relevant!

3) Improve the quality of my sleep - I'd been working on this, and had been regularly hitting 8 hours of high-quality sleep a night...however once again the fracture caused issues. Sleeping in a cast is not great. I'm currently very much out of routine, with a fairly poor sleep pattern, and also my diet is more irregular. I'm planning on a hard reset after Mallorca...there is not much point going through it now, as I have too much on before to really get into the strict routine I need to do. I have pencilled in an 8 week period to really clamp down on diet and life-plan, to put me into 2018 in good stead.

4) Discover 4 new authors - I actually found it quite hard to read while the cast on...getting into a comfortable position was tricky...however I did manage to get some reading in, and ticked off 2 new authors... Becky Chambers ("The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet", and "A Closed and Common Orbit"...both excellent), and Nick Cole ("Soda Pop Soldier", recommended as an alternative MMOpunk book to "Ready Player One", which I read a while back and disliked somewhat, finding it a tad crass and tacky). I have some books stacked uyp for Mallorca, as when I'm not riding, I'll probably be reading...currently I'm doing the Terry Prachett/Stephen Baxter series "The Long...", which sort of counts as I've never read Stephen Baxter before. I also have Peter F Hamiltons Void trilogy on the Kindle, which I consider brave as I've never really forgiven him for the Deus Ex Machina bullshit at the end of the Nights Dawn trilogy.

5) Do some console gaming - again, holding a controller was not easy. I did a bit of retro with the new Sonic game, taking myself back to my early teenage years. I have spent some time watching streams of people playing "PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (PUBG)", and "League of Legends (LOL)"...2 very different games that have an interesting development over the course of 30 mins to an hour. not sure I'd enjoy _playing_ either of them, however they tick all my boxes in terms of "experience is it's own reward", and a single game provides a complete experience (beginning, middle, end).

6) Put 10% of gross earnings into savings - so this one has become significantly more relevant since the proposal. We hit a financial landmark in September, and the loan we took out to cover some of the deposit on the house was paid off...however next year is going to be rather costly, as it turns out weddings are expensive! Gill's parents are paying some of the costs, however neither of us consider it fair to ask too much of them, it's not like we are just about to set up home. I now have a rather comprehensive savings plan for the next 18 months, controlled via an over-engineered spreadsheet. This segues into a second spreadsheet we have to manage overall wedding finances (that one involves double-entry book-keeping, as I built it!). The intention is to have a good wedding, an ensure that no-one comes out the other end below a certain threshold of finances.

7) Comtinue to Improve my baking - again...baking in a cast was nigh-impossible. The wedding has also shifted my focus somewhat. I have committed to producing a cake suitable for 100-120 guests, and also favours. It's less about baking skills, and more about logistics. I have an outline plan (approximately 120 cupcakes in 4 different flavours in a tower, and a 20cm topper cake for cutting). The favours will either be fudge, biscuits or (more lightly) both. I'll be spending a significant proportion of my baking time fine-tuning the plans, so that when I come to do the final efforts, I'll know when and where everything is.

8) Bonus Objective - Learn to Drive - We are at T-4 days and counting to me starting lessons, and T-11 days to my test. I'm a little apprehensive, however hopefully once I'm actually in the car and driving I'll have something to focus on. Opinion is split between those who think I'll find it easy, as I have plenty of road awareness, and those who are terrified that I'll try and drive a car like I ride a motorbike (i.e. expecting acceleration of 0-60 in sub 3-seconds, and aiming for gaps under a metre wide). There will undoubedly be updates on Facebook through the next week for those who are on there, probably listing off the things I hit that day.

9) Bonus Objective - Self-Physio the wrist back to full mobility - I'm 2 weeks out of cast on my left wrist, and it's clear that it's going to be a long journey to full recovery. The doctors are confident that I will regain full mobility and strength...the bone healed well, and I'm in reasonable shape...however right now I have limited flexibility, and certain motions are extremely painful. I've been given a series of exercises, and a general instruction to use the hand as mch as possible. I need to keep up with the exercises, and (to a certain extent) force the mobility back into it. For long rides I've been strapping it up, just to avoid jarring motions (it was strapped up on Sunday for Velo Birmingham, for example). It's getting better week-by-week (when I first had it released, I had not more than 10-15' of flexibility in some directions...that is now closer to 30', though with the fingers extended that is reduced)

My only reference point for full recovery time was when I fratured my elbow a few years ago...then it took 6 months to get the full range of motion back, and to do that I was taking (very) hot baths, and then using a dumb-bell to help force the joint to fully extend. It's my primary hand, so not having full motion is un-acceptable. I may be old, but I'm not spending the next 30 or so years with a damaged hand! I have/had a secondary issue of my lower back going, as I spent 7 weeks sitting in awkward positions (trying to keep the arm elevated, and poor sleeping posture), however I have a better idea about how to manage that, as lower back is a classic weak spot for cyclists (when you spend the whole time hunched up...)

babychaos's picture

Given I've just started putting together my targets for next year for my coach, thought I should get this done now as well, so I can start working on next years plans.

1) Beat last years points total

Done, and into next year with a great start. Due to the vagaries of the cycling system, license points run from 1st December (while your actual license runs from 1st January...go figure). I'm now officially in the relegation zone...if I don't score 25 points by the end of November, I'll be demoted back down to a 3rd category rider. I'm now also riding in higher level races (as you go up the rankings, your choice of races becomes smaller, and the opponents better) I had my first race of the 2018 season a couple of weeks ago, and to my upmost surprise picked up 8 points by snagging 2nd place.

I was able to race out-of-category for some of last year, so my actual points total and what I would have achieved if I'd ridden in-category differ slightly.
Target - 40 points
Actual - 41 (76) points

2) Top 5% in closed-road sportives

Done, though in a limited nuber of events, due to my broken wrist. I probably won't get to do Velo Birmingham next year, as it's quite late in the season... I do have an entry for RideLondon in July...hopefully I'll still have my front pen start position!
Target - Velo Birmingham Top 800
Actual - Velo Birmingham 12th

3) Improve the Quality of my Sleep

Done (though hard to quantify). My average sleep time has been (just) over 8 hours a night for the year. It took a real hit in August and early September, as sleeping with a wrist in cast was a nightmare, combined with a massive reduction in training time...however since I've been out of cast I've made good progress.

4) Discover 4 New Authors

Failed. I've had a low reading year (for me). I read very little over summer, as I was pretty much riding all the time, or sleeping! I've read 16 books (3 of them were Peter F Hamilton goliaths, which should probably count double), however there are only 3 new authors on the list.
Target - 4 New Authors
Actual - 3 New Authors;

  • Becky Chambers
  • Nick Cole
  • Stephen Baxter

5) Do Some Console Gaming

Done, though again it took a hit in the latter half of the year after I broke my wrist. I went through Final Fantasy XV, and loved it. I played through Last Guardian, and generally enjoyed it, but found some parts frustrating. I failed to get through Nier:Automata, as I found it too vague. I worked my way through Diablo 3, though ultimately I think I preferred the experience Torchlight 2 gave me a few years ago. I spent some time with Sonic Mania and Wipeout Omega...both beautifully retro experiences. I played through Until Dawn, which convinced me I should never take part in a horror film, as I make terrible decisions!

Off the console specifically, I've been playing a lot of Race for The Galaxy on my mobile (my favourite board/card game, fortunately an exceptional port, with a very good AI), and also something called Zwift, which is a "game" for cycling (it links upto an indoor trainer, such as my Wattbike, and places thousands of cyclists in a virtual world to ride around). Probably not a game in the real sense, but I'm finding it a strong training tool. It sounds a little egotistical, but it's been good to see what "normal" cyclists are like. Most of the people I cycle with are exceptionally strong (in my immediate cicle of riding partners, there are several national champions, and a couple of world record holders), and it's easy to forget that I'm not in bad shape, I'm just not a world-beater.

I really do need to pick my games I think. I find myself preferring games with a strong, directed narrative and a sense of progression. Once I lose that, I quickly lose interest. There have been a number of "Triple-A" titles I love the look of, however when it gets down to the mechanics there is far too much grind (Battlefront 2, Destiny 2 etc etc).

6) Put 10% of gross earnings into Savings

Done, and then some. With the wedding planned for next year, finances are now very important. We've worked out a financial plan for the next 12 months, so that hopefully we can have a good event, and leave ourselves financially sound, so we don't have to worry heading into 2019.

7) Continue to Improve my Baking

Done. I've done a little less this year, and won't be applying for Bake-Off 2018 (I have better things to be doing). My focus has been on new flavour combinations, and also looking ahead the big project of a wedding cake, and also a load of favours. In GBBO 2017 I got through to the last ~100, passing the baking audition in February, and progressing to camera testing. There was a tense week when I was out in Spain, waiting to find out if I needed to fly back early for the next audition step (I didn't, which is probably not a bad thing).

8) Bonus - Learn to Drive

Done. Close run thing, and probably one of the most stressful things I've ever done. For those who didn't hear, I managed to break my instructors car within about 5 minutes...I snapped the indicator lever off! I then proceeded to have a panic attack after about 2 days, and from that my test was postponed. Fortunately I managed to calm down, had a sort of epithany-day where a few things came together, and sorted my shit out. I had to swap into Gill's car for the test (my instructor wasn't available for the day my re-booking was), but last Monday I passed (3 minor faults), and I'm now insured on Gill's car. I'm not a good driver, and I can't see myself ever enjoying it the way I do with the motorbike (and don't get me started on the terrible design choices cars seem to have made), however it opens up race options for me next year. There is a reasonable chance that some time in 2019 we'll get a new car that is an Automatic. I would be keen on an electric car as well, however not sure the technology and intrastructure is there just yet.

9) Bonus - Self Physio the wrist

Done (ongoing). Since the cast came off in the middle of September, I've been focusing on flexibility exercises, and also trying not to protect it, or avour the right hand. As it stands the wrist has about 95% flexibility, though still some stiffness. I can bend the right wrist down to past 90', the left one bends just shy of 90' (that's a massive improvement comared to the ~30' I had). The back has returned to normal...a combination of stretching, exercises and physio.

Summary, and Looking Ahead

8 out of 9. I can live with that. Depite the broken wrist, and 2 months off the bike I'm probably the fittest I've ever been, and I'm shaping up to head into 2018 in the best shape ever.

This is a graph of my Chronic Training Load over the year. The darkest line is my CTL, with the orange dots showing races (spot race season April-July...it would have extended into August normally as well). This is all derived from my training logs, and is based on some fairly well researched models for performance (the fine-tuning and tweaking is left to my coach, but it's important that I understand the concepts involved).

The faintest line is my "Form", and the medium line my Fatigue levels. You can see a section towards the end of May where Form was high, and Fatigue was low...that was when I started getting podiums in nearly every race I did, and in retrospect probably the strongest I was all year. You can also see the real drop in fitness in August and September, when I went from 12-14 hours a week of training down to 3-4..I was going off the boil, however it really went off a cliff. What very good for me to see is the strong recovery I've made from October to now... I'm heading into 2018 a lot fitter than I was a year ago (CTL is 15 points higher than a year ago). I've backed that up with a diet over the last 2 months, dropping from 68kg down to 64kg.

I need to work on my resolutions for next year. I have the core concepts and goals;

  • Cycling - Retain 2nd Category race license
  • Wedding - Survive. Bake a metric shit-load of stuff
  • Finances - Re-mortgage and plan for wedding/beyond
babychaos's picture

WOW Pete, there's some inspirational shit in there. I was sad to hear that you broke your wrist but your fight through driving a car was simply awesome. Massive respect. I look forward to you filling the car with piss heads to return them home as the only sober one.

brainwipe's picture