Thoughts on 2010

As I am just about to end the year in good fashion and start the new one with a nice few days on the bike again, here are some thoughts on the year that passed, and the one that is to come shortly. I am still recovering from the amazing time I had cycling down to Germany, which was a truly amazing adventure. I was to start to write my story down, but I think its better to let it sit in my head for another week, it was all a bit too much this week. But I cannot stop stating that I really loved every aspect of it, even the odd situations when I stood in a corner shivering, eating my rolls to get some calories into my body. I loved the looks you get from car drivers ploughing through the snow, and the encouragement to finish it all, even when I was close to bail. As you might guess I simply love riding bikes, in whatever fashion, and every time I see a human being on a bike it puts a smile on my face.

Looking back, cycling is one of the main things that brought me back on track this year, which started in pretty grim fashion looking for a job. After moving back to Edinburgh in the end of January I had a job but I was bike-less for a few months, but exploring the hills on my own legs was a good replacement activity and the cheap bus tickets from Citylink did their best to get me out each weekend for a fiver. After a few more walks in the Isle of Skye I soon got bored a wee bit, as walking was always connected with getting to places first. So in my short break after Easter I flew back to Germany and back to Edinburgh with my Avanti Giro, and it just needed a little spark to light the fire again. The two other bikes, my Stumpjumper and the Cube, were packed and ready to be shipped as well.

The rest is history now: I broke most personal records this year, starting something special back in May, which Ian and me described later as race touring. It basically meant taking your road bike, packing the bare essentials into an Ortlieb saddle bag and then hit the road, and cycle as many kilometres possible in a day. it was not about just clocking kilometres, as I spent plenty of time with my camera as well. My first trip was cycling from Edinburgh to Fort William on a single day. Ian headed off the same day and stopped in Crianlarich, but as the hostel was fully booked, I had no other chance than getting to the next place to sleep, which turned out to be Fort William. The day afterwards was spent riding over Dalwhinnie back to Perth and then taking the train back to Edinburgh. Rides to some of the beautiful islands followed, the most cruel was cycling back from Floodigarry on Skye in a southerly storm, in hail, with headwind gales; the weather was so bad that all ferries were cancelled for the weekend. I had to make it to Fort William to catch the train back at 7, and I was there half an hour before. Call it lucky, call me mental or whatever you would like, that was the day when I thought about doing something big. The next big thing was to look at the 300k mark, and if it would be possible to crack it this year. It was indeed possible, by riding from Edinburgh to Newtonmore over all the mountain passes in the Cairngorms, so no piece of cake as well. Funnily I was still fine when I arrived that night, and managed to ride more than 200k the other day back again.

Some other rides followed, but after that it was time to reactivate the old Cube touring mountain bike, to do some more old fashioned touring rides. I was stunned by the beauty of the Isle of Arran, I tried several times to get to the Mull of Kintyre but always failed, I discovered the amazing beauty of Torridon, and finally lost my respect for winter and made big plans.

It was not until October that I planned the next big thing, and first thought about the singlespeed purchase. I was tempted to buy a Genesis Day One in a sale in September, but the test ride didn’t feel right, so I scrapped the idea very soon looking at trying not to spend too much money on a bike again. But the idea of riding back home for Christmas soon caught my attention, and ideas were bounced around in my head. The route was obvious as I had to take some form of transport at some stage as Britain is an island. Taking the ferry at the very start seemed wrong, and so I had the first leg planned, going from Newcastle to Amsterdam. The more I thought about the conditions, the more I assured myself that December usually doesn’t bring a lot of snow in Germany, later I was proven to be totally wrong. It was the hardest winter since recordings began in Germany so far, and I cycled through it on a bike. And I arrived on time. If people had doubted my project management skills in job interviews in the beginning of the year, they might think about their judgement now.

The idea of taking the singlespeed was set in stone when I found the Swobo Crosby, and I fell in love riding with it. Riding through a proper blizzard from Dunblane to Callender with Ian was one of the coolest things we have ever done, and I was ready to take only one gear to get home to Germany. The trip did enlighten even more passion for future projects, and I hope you keep following. I will write down my adventure in more detail in this blog, and I am also looking into the option of doing some talks. I was inspired by Mark Beaumont‘s talk in autumn at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival, and I would love to do the same with my ride. Simply speaking I would be delighted if there was only one person which gets inspired and takes up cycling and gets out of the comfort zone every now and then. Doing something like my trip is not for a first time cyclist, as you need to be properly trained to enjoy it. But it’s the little steps that change lives, not the big ones.

There are already some ideas for 2011 bouncing in my head, some big, some small ones. One of them is to cycle down to Germany again, this time in the fastest possible way on a road bike. The other is to tour Australia with one gear. And to do some more single speeding in Scotland as well. Let’s see what the year brings, I wish you all a very good start into 2011!