Cycling through the winter, without a safety net. The winter challenge


How many times do you train for an event only to lapse in your fitness afterwards? On my return from the Camino I started to chill a little….. A few days off became a couple of weeks. Ok, I had a few bits of raw flesh needed healing but I also needed another goal. I’m not finished with this new (old) me thing yet! I had already stopped running after the great north run so had to be careful the daily grind didn’t suck up the time I needed to do at least some training….. Being as this was the start of November 2012 I was also thinking about drab, bleak, wet, cold winter……

But aside from all that, I’m not sure if the Olympics and the Tour de France had anything to do with it, but I noticed many people I knew were turning to cycling to get fit. The industry is pretty much recession proof and the fact that it’s a fashionable low impact sport/past time means that all ages and abilities can get involved.

It got me thinking, why not just try and gather those who want to cycle into the same spot as those who do, but are willing to share knowledge and enthusiasm in a way that isn’t belittling and reflects the joy and life changing attitude cycling can have.

So a little group was born. a small facebook group. It’s got potential to get larger because it’s not a forum and it doesn’t have the ego trippers that some forums have. you have to be brought in by a current member because you have to be in a position to personally encourage them yourself. All good. I decided it’s initial goal would be to help starters get out on their bikes regardless of the time of the year. It’s going well, we have members who’ve started from no riding and are now achieving 50 miler bike rides! We live by the rules of Velominati and best of all it provides all of us with really cool stories of our ups and downs as we just keep those pedals turning and turn our bikes into mush on Britain’s roads. As many members have started training blogs I’ve set up a group blog to shout about all their achievements collectively. I’m so proud of the way things have gone!

Take a look!

Which leads me to my Goal. I just wanted to continue riding. Right through winter, rain or sleet and hail covered shine. I kept up the cycle commute I’ve done for most of last year and the only thing that has stopped me wheeling the bike out has been child care and an imploding freehub on the back wheel. But I fitted a speedometer. An old one just to clock up progress. Set it to zero and let it run. I’ve cycled the 20 miler twice each shift at 2am, 4am, 5am, 7pm (you get the gist) my route goes through Manchester and Salford city centres. It’s mainly flat and uses heavy traffic routes. I’ve been cycling in every snow storm, an inch of fresh hail and look like I should be hanging from a Blackpool promenade lamppost in September, so many blinky lights……. But I’m hooked. I love it. And tonight on the way home I passed through the thousand mile mark. A thousand winter miles!

So I wanted to take this opportunity to thank those in the little cycling community I started. They’ve well and truly driven me forward in the last three months. Stopping was never an option, I love this too much and I’m saving £100 a month in fuel, but they’ve made it a team sport, wow I never thought I’d enjoy that…….


This blog: Tony Hemans and Glen Eccles cycled the Camino Frances from St jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela covering 845km in 6 days in October 2012.  If you are trying to get fit, planning an adventure, long distance cyclist or just curious about my mid-life crisis then subscribe and share!

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