If I was to grade myself on this year’s cycling performance I think it would be a C. I’ve scraped a pass with room for much more improvement.

As mileage goes it was average for the past couple of years at circa 6000km hindered by the fact I no longer regularly commute. 3 or 4 years ago I was regularly riding 150 miles a week and now my role at work has changed that banked mileage is gone. In addition to that, I think ditching my road bike has probably affected some of the longer distances I may have done as riding a gravel bike is obviously a bit slower.

in amongst a cluster of 6000km years

Although an average year for mileage there have definitely been some highlights to reflect on.


In March Sally and I went back to Fuerteventura for the first time since we got locked down there on 2020. I hired an MTB again and found some new trails. Weirdly, it was only a couple of weeks ago this place popped up again in a conversation with my friend Andy talking about how ripe it is for a gravel bike rental/holiday business to be setup there. If I had the money I’d definitely be over there exploring the opportunities because as the gravel side of the bike industry explodes, someone is going to do it sooner or later. Fuerteventura is gravel ridiing in it’s truest sense. There is nothing else to ride on.


Everyone loves getting a new bike and I’m no different. Taking delivery of my new Dolan GXC gravel bike, in June, a couple of days before I left for a week riding it around The Trossachs National Park in Scotland was ideal.

it’s been faultless

Flying Solo

If you like to ride gravel bikes then put Aberfoyle on your bucket list, because with 200km of trails to play on it’s a dream destination for that type of riding as I found out in June. I based myself just outside the town in a self-contained cottage in the forest which was awesome and a time away from my normal life I needed, to clear my head and press the reset button. The area is vast, the scenery is amazing and if you drop lucky with the weather, as I did, it is an amazing place to ride (or just visit) and well worth the 6hr drive I endured in my mom’s old Fiat Panda. I will definitely be going back again in the future.

Got the Bug

When I got back from Scotland I was physically tired but mentally quite refreshed and ready for more. In July I gave the Forest of Dean a go on the new bike and enjoyed a 65km loop. I found out the area is pretty hilly too, banging out 1200m of climbing in 3.5hrs. It’s another great place with a lot of options to make up some great routes in another area of the country. I will definitely be going back to in 2023 as it’s only an hour away.

Back to Canada

In September I parked the bike and enjoyed a two week break in Canada with Sally and friends who live there. There are no adjectives I can use to adequately describe the size and beauty of the place and we only visited a tiny part of Alberta and British Columbia. Stunning doesn’t do it any justice. Another one we will be definitely going back to.

2023 Incoming

It took a while to get my fitness back after Canada with no real exercise of note there so when the engine did start to show signs of recovery I began to get a bit itchy and started looking at events to ride next year. Just to give myself a bit of focus.

Mad March Hare Sportive
After a poor 2022 edition, The Mad March Hare was back with a promise of pre-pandemic standards so I decided to give it a go again. From what I’ve seen so far, the new organiser is delivering on his promises. Can’t wait.

I’ve been watching the Cyclocross over Xmas and it’s really brought back memories of when I used to race and love it. It’s such a fantastic sport. One hour, full gas. It is awesome tv. I still have a racing itch to scratch one last time I think and 2023 might be the year, in some form, I come out of retirement for a go. Who knows?

Looking at various events and seeing the comments it’s clear entry numbers are down and prices are high. I think to some extent the sportive bubble may have burst. Too many events charging too much amid a cost of living crisis. Organisers don’t seem to be reading the room. For most of the events I fancied I had to drive quite a way there and back too (more ££) so I decided to invent my own challenge and see if anyone fancied a go to. I mapped a 100 mile offroad ride around Brum, called it The Gravelton and it’s really garnered some interest. Although it’s free, I’ve had to take registrations to guage interest and I’m currently sat on three short of 200 riders. It’s a bit mad but shows if you do something a little different and put riders before profit, if you build it they will come. I had the same sentiment when I setup The Mad March Hare fifteen years ago, to prove a point, and look how that turned out. Anyway, it’s given me some more ideas for similar type rides which focus on the riding rather than t-shirts and medals. Watch this space!

Our first 2023 holiday is booked for April. After numerous visits to Corralejo in Fuerteventura we’ve opted for Lanzarote this time. I’m hiring an MTB again as it will give me more versatility to see more of the island on and offroad. Can’t wait

Solo Time
I will be going away again like I did to Scotland but I haven’t decided where yet. Initially I thought The Ardennes which was where I was going until I booked Aberfoyle and recently I’ve done a lot of research on Ireland focussing on the Ring of Kerry and Killarney. Looks amazing but logistically it’s a bit of challenge if I’m not going to drive. My latest idea is Flanders in Summer away from the crowds of the Spring Classics. Get there, bag all the famous climbs, enjoy the beer and go home. Could be a winner!

Grade C

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