2014 – bloody hell

I know it’s a cliche, but good grief that one has flown by. In accordance with tradition, here’s a 100 mph sprint through the highlights of the year (there’s been a few let me tells ya)

The year kicked off like it did in 2013 with a Strathpuffer24 Solo win. I was dead chuffed as you can imagine. Not least because I could eat normally for a while and I wasn’t compelled to go out training in the cold, dark and wet mornings. Vowed never to do the Strathpuffer again but then entered the Strathpuffer again the following November.

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Celebrated the win and the subsequent weight gain by flying out to Tenerife for some quality suffering on the road bike in nice weather. In spite of the nice weather, there was more snow in Tenerife than there was in Scotland a couple of weeks previously. Flew back and started to film a TV programme. As you do.

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Then I was brushing my teeth one morning and suddenly remembered I was running the 3 Peaks Fell Race in a few weeks. I prepared as best I could – I even managed a 20 mile trail run – and lined up like I did the year before. This time however it hurt a lot more. I didn’t do any more running for long time afterwards…

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I rode a fatbike competitively for the last time in April in the brilliant Battle on the Beach race. There wasn’t much battling (not what would pass as ‘battling’ around here anyway) but it was on a beach. I’ve a feeling 2015 will see a bit more fatbike action, in spite of the entire world and his dog owning fatbikes nowadays…

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Almost snapped my knees and lower back riding a too-tall-geared singlespeed at the Builth Wells marathon double-header to round off April, before spending a week or so in Fort William with Dave and the No Fuss team. We spent the week riding bikes a lot, unsurprisingly. Some more days were spent filming for the telly…

June was a corker. We did some more filming, me and Dave had our faith tested in a frustrating 12 hour mechanical-and-puncture-fest at the Bristol Bikefest 12 hour race.  We narrowly missed out on a podium after yo-yo-ing up and down the top ten as the gods took the piss out of us, basically. I ‘celebrated’ by taking part in the 6 hour race the day after, hanging onto the back of Chipps’ tandem. We came third.

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I indulged in some local midweek cross country racing and didn’t get my arse handed to me on a plate by anywhere near as many people as I thought I would.

The week after I won Mountain Mayhem solo. At last. As a reward I was presented with a medal by Princess Anne, which was nice apart from the fact I said “YER WOT” instead of “excuse me?” when I misheard what she said. I was tired.

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Filmed some more telly and did some more XC racing in July. Also, I sailed across to the Isle of Man for the Manx100 race. 100 miles of unsupported, cramp-inducing, climb-infested suffering. It was a good day out, but after the 6th puncture and the 2nd wrong turning I was glad to be on the boat back to the mainland. Maybe one to try again next year.

Arrived home, grabbed 3 hours sleep then Guy picked me up in the van for some more filming – by now things were getting serious with the ‘telly job’ – the tandem was built and we were spending a couple of days testing it. I’d also spent the late spring and the summer so far training on a single-seater recumbent on a track in Preston. I was loving it.

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August was the big one. Our attempt at the human-powered 24 hour record. I don’t need to go on about it here, it was on the telly.

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A couple of weeks later me and Phil did the Ruthin marathon. Phil crashed and broke his collarbone. Retrieving him from the hospital at 3am the next morning was an adventure in itself.

I’d been training and focussing on the World 24 Hour champs for the 16 weeks before the race itself in October. With many things that we focus and plan for weeks (even months) on end, things can often play out as you didn’t expect them to. The main thing is to be prepared for the unexpected and not give up and that’s pretty much what happened. Not feeling very well at all (sorry Scotland, I made a mess in your forest), I had a shocking start, a mediocre middle bit and a final 8 or 9 hours where I pulled my finger out and made the most of it. The race didn’t go competely tits up, but it could probably have gone better. I finished 6th in the elite category, which at the very least won me enough to pay for the diesel there and back and I did get to spend another weekend riding my bike. Hopefully I’ll make it to the WEMBO World Champs in 2015. It’s not in Scotland though, it’s thousands of miles away in California…

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An all-too-short rest after the 24 Hour Worlds (which included the screening of the Speed with Guy Martin episode. Mega!) was followed by me entering and starting to train for the 2015 Strathpuffer, which sort of brings us back to where we started.

Thanks to everyone that has helped me, encouraged me and have given me opportunities to do ace and cool things in the past year. Thanks to all the people who have kindly agreed to help me (and to those of you whose help I might appear to take for granted!) in 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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