Looking Forward

So, here we are. Another calendar year has ticked over, and there are plans to be made. This year everything leads towards the Transcontinental Race No. 5. Yep, that’s right, after last years race I caught the bug for this sort of thing. Many are surprised I’m going back for more, but I couldn’t be happier that I’ve been accepted back in.

I will be using my place in the TCR to raise money and awareness for the amazing charity, Action For Kids. The race is a huge commitment, and there will be over 6 months of training, planning and preparation to get me to the start line. Action For Kids is a charity aimed at giving opportunities and a chance for independence to young people with physical and learning disabilities.  Any donations will be a huge help to the charity and can really make a difference. It will also help keep me motivated in the race!

Please donate here http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/matthewfalconer

What next?

January

Weight Loss: Focus for January is to try and work off some of the timber I’ve added over December. I’m really a bit disappointed about how out of control this has gotten. I keep blaming the appetite that I acquired as a result of last years TCR, but I think I just got a bit lazy with looking out for what I eat and how much training I do.

Fitness:  Along side the weight loss, and to help it along I’ve started to do some indoor training to improve the quality of work I do increase my aerobic fitness on top of a strong power base. Lots of turbo and rollers sessions while watching Netflix or listening to some tunes.

Ride Far: With the exception of a few mini adventures in Wales over Christmas, I’ve not done much distance riding. Aiming for a couple of century rides before the month is out!

February

New Bike: Sad to say that I managed to break my Bowman Pilgrims. Terminally. This bike has been an incredible companion on some fairly incredible rides, breaking down many barriers as to what is possible on two wheels. It was such a joy to ride, and sad to say that journey is over. The bike is just a tool to do a job, so the search for a new one begins… N+1 and everything…! February will be when I aim to get this onto the road.

Ride Further: I need to get plotting to find some new lanes to explore. This will be about ramping up some mileage and some endurance ahead of the next few months. Things are looking quite interesting! I’m tempted to put a trip to West Wales down, but will have to see how the new bike is coming along and be sure the weather is going to play nice.

March

Keep going: March will be about assessing my fitness, weight and endurance levels. This will be a chance to work on some of the areas that are falling behind. Training for the Transcontinental Race is a really tough proposition to understand what you need to do. I’m hoping to replicate what I did last year, but try and fill in some gaps and include improvements. Hoping to have achieved some weight loss goals by this point.

TCR No. 5 Planning: I’ve already got some routing done, hopefully will have the kit sorted – any gaps will need to be filled, or planned.

G!RO…NA: Off to Girona for a long weekend of Spanish roads and Cols with Sommet Cycling Tours. There are perhaps 10 of the Cafe regulars heading out for some much needed fair weather riding and a taste of Spain.

April.

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Flanders: Probably more of a drinking weekend – heading over on the Saturday, watching the race on the Sunday, riding Monday. I’ve made the mistake of underestimating the damage Belgium beer can do on your hangover, so I will have this in mind next time.

Wales: If there is no February or March trip, it must happen in April. I’ve got to go visit my mum! I may as well just head down anyway as this is a great part of the world to explore

Heart of England Audax: Some unfinished business here. Last year I attempted this Audax with James, only to be caught on the first big hill by a snow storm. We made our way to a cafe in Broadway to warm up – never been so cold! – before heading back to the car in a taxi.

Paris – Part 1: As per last year, I’ll be riding with Challenge Sophie on her London to Paris 24 hour sportive on the last weekend of April.

May

Paris-London: On the Monday, as I did last year I will ride back from Paris. Hoping for warmer weather this year – suffered with -5deg C, but it was at least dry!

Sardinia: I’m making the most of some air miles, and flying out to Sardinia. I will be taking my bike and bikepacking gear for a week of bike packing around the island. I went to Sardinia a few years ago just as I got into riding, and found some fairly epic roads. Will quite likely spend most nights in hotels, but there will be some bivvy practice ahead of the TCR. It’s a really good opportunity to get everything bedded in and discover any kit issues or deficiencies, or even excesses.

Paris… Again!: Another round trip over the bank holiday weekend. This time with a whole day in Paris on the Sunday before heading back early on Monday.

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June

TBC: Early June is currently a little open. Possibly the Dragon Ride again, along with the Fairies flattest 300 audax. Will have to see how things are.

Alps Trip: A small group of friends hiring a van and heading to the Alps. Got some epic rides planned in over a long weekend, covering some epic climbs and roads of the Alps.

Final Prep: This is almost the last chance to test any kit, fix any issues or add/remove any items from the inventory. Hopefully most of this will have been sorted out in May…

July

Panicking: As per last year, July is about tapering. And final preparations. Getting ready for the journey across Europe. Last year I put on a bit of weight this month, so will try and taper with an ease in diet at the same time. Or maybe just make the most of the extra weight by stopping less often on the TCR!

The TCR Starts: 28th July, on the Muur in Geraardsbergen. 10pm.

Eeek!

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August

TCR: Still going hopefully! Lots of ideas about how long this is going to take me, but ultimate goal is to finish, and do so in time for the finishers party. I learnt a lot last year so hope to use as much as that to make life easier for myself. But there is so much that’s different, there is inevitably going to be so much more to learn once again! One thing that I keep reminding myself of is how lucky I was throughout the race last year. Bad routing through France aside, I managed to get ahead of, or just miss an awful lot of bad weather. Cold & rain in the Swiss Alps and Dolomites, the winds in the Balkans, the worst of the rain in Macedonia.

Rest: Beyond the TCR I’m planning to chill completely for the rest of August. I may put something together on August BH with the G!RO crew, but seeing how much damage my body took last year I’m not sure there’ll be much I can realistically plan for.

September, and beyond…

Seeing how I recover, I hope to enter Revolve 24 again. A 24 hour team relay (or solo…?!) race around Brands Hatch. Even if I don’t ride, I’ll most likely go along with the team to help everyone out.

All said and done, there’s much to look forward to, and you’ll be able to follow this journey here.

Photo Credit for header photo, at the summit of the Passo Giau, TCR No. 4, CP3. Photographer: Giovanni Maria Pizzato for PEdALED

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