It's been another amazing year of cycling. I haven't quite managed to get to the 6,500 miles I did last year, ending the year instead on 5817 miles (9,361 km), but to be fair I have been back at work!
There's been some amazing adventures this year, including, Coast to Coast Italy, End to End Wales and Coast to Coast (off road) England.
I've also continued with my ride leading, led 65 rides this year, either with Breeze or my club, BCG, mostly either women's rides once a month or gravel rides.
Pisa - Team Italia! #GirlSquad (pic of the year!)
March & April
Highlight of March was celebrating my 50th ride lead with Breeze, since I started leading in 2020. We also had 2 international Women's Day rides in March. The most fun adventure in March was attempting to cycle the North Downs Way. Unfortunately, due to the wet weather we had to abandon the traditional off road route after day one, as it simply wasn't passable. We did however, have four days of cycling covering 150 miles (& 8000 feet) from Fareham to Dover which was pretty much raining the entire time. A great trip which I'd definitely like to do again - just when it's a bit drier.
North Downs Way - this summed it up
Spring has arrived...
Now this was a busy month. May saw me take part again for the second year in a row as a Ride Angel for the 100km Ride the night in London. Rides to celebrate the King's coronation and a VERY fun ride around Paris to celebrate a friend's Hen’s weekend. But the biggest highlight was the Italy Coast to Coast. Venice to Pisa (well actually it was Adriatic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea) - 274 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing. It was an extraordinary adventure, very challenging, very tough in places (one climb lasted 25 miles), but extraordinarily beautiful and very memorable to enjoy with fantastic friends.
Cycling around the Louvre at sunset - a real highlight of Paris
June and July
June started with a post Italy recovery ride over to Ely cathedral. Followed by some cycling up in the Lake District ambling around Lake Windermere while I supported my husband who was taking part in an ultra run that weekend. Also took part in Velo Femme Sportive, 50 miles of torrential rain in Yorkshire!
The big cycling highlight of June was End to End Wales, starting in Chepstow and finishing at Carnarvon Castle. Another iconic and stunning ride - over 200 miles of cycling and 16,400 feet of climbing, endless spectacular views across valleys, up mountain passes, through herds of mountain sheep, through Snowdonia National Park, it really was a spectacular route with everything Wales had to offer, especially rain.
Ambling around Lake Windermere
Gospel Pass, Wales
Beautiful valleys in Wales
Another mountain pass, Wales
August saw us take on coast to coast, but not the traditional route, the off road route starting on the Irish Sea on the West Coast of England at Whitehaven, and cycling across the country to the East Coast and the North Sea at Tynemouth. It takes you from the Lake District across the Pennines in Cumbria and onward to Northumberland. The off road route is advertised as longer, more remote and more difficult than the classic route - that much is true. It was one of the toughest rides I had ever done (included cycling up Honister Pass and traversing the highest peak in the Pennines!), but it was also one of the most beautiful. It was remote, 146 miles and 13,819 feet of elevation - what an amazing and epic challenge, but the vistas and landscapes were totally worth it.
We also had a couple of great off road adventures more local in August, taking part in the Chiltern’s glorious gravel sportive, 10 out of 10 for this totally amazing route.
So remote and so beautiful
Great friends and cycling buddies
Across the Pennines
off road (MTB) sportive
Another busy month for cycling, started off with an amazing weekend down on the South Coast with my cycling club. Three days of cycling, 130 miles in total, including cycling around the iconic Isle of Wight. It wall to wall sunshine and then followed up by a recovery ride of 53 miles around the New Forest on the Sunday, giving us everything the New Forest has to offer, heathland, forests, ponies, horses, donkeys even the seaside.
Not to be outdone by the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, I led a ride around the Peak District for a number of work colleagues as part of a fundraising challenge. I then led a ride for a number of staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth development office over to Bletchley Park to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Alan Turing.
Isle of Wight
Work fundraising challenge in the Peak District - World Vision
In this month, Christina and I decided to complete a part of the South Downs off road route we missed last time around. Although this was obviously not meant to be, as we couldn't complete that particular section due to high winds. We did however still complete part of the South Downs way and joined up with the Cantii way. This was our last cycling trip for 2023, starting in Brighton and finishing in Ashford.
October is of course Halloween, and I had a double Halloween treat this year. A road cycling experience with the club and then on Sunday I took part in a fun CX cyclocross race, all to raise money for charity. The course was extremely muddy, but I had to say it was a lot of fun, a number of competitions on the course, including drinking beer, eating crackers, eating pumpkin cake and welly throwing. Both myself and the bike ending up very muddy all while dressed as a scary looking skeleton.
South Downs, the sequel
November and December
November is my birthday month and I was very chuffed to be able to go out for a birthday ride once again with a group of great friends, followed up by a fantastic night out as my cycling club was celebrating their 10th birthday, which coincided with my birthday! Lucky me. I was also asked to speak about women's cycling at the Milton Keynes Mayors cycling awards.
December saw me taking part as Breeze in the cycling Santas event, where over 130 riders cycled through central Milton Keynes dressed as Santa. And then for about the 6th year in the row, I organised the BCG charity Christmas ride where we raised over £700 for Willen Hospice.
Breeze at the Cycling Santas
All in all, I've had a number of amazing adventures & great cycling experiences in 2023 - roll on 2024!