So, it's January (for a few more hours, anyway) which surely means that new year's resolutions, goals, whatever you want to call them, need to be made and shared and then fall by the wayside. Except that this year, I'm pretty determined that this last won't happen - or at least, for no more than a few days at a time. I am 37 years old, fending for myself in the big, bad world for the first time in a decade and I need to get a whole lot better at it.
Ride harder, eat well, take care.
The bike: In a little under three years I turn 40, and that seems as good an excuse as any to set myself some big challenges. Three summers to get out and enjoy the road, three really big rides that will probably hurt like hell, but equally reward me with tales to tell and thighs of steel, and hopefully raise some money for some good causes along the way. So over the next three years I intend to take on Dunwich Dynamo, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Mont Ventoux. DD is really just for fun - yep, I now consider 120 miles of night riding fun! Yes, I know I said I'd never do de Ronde again but, well, things change, people change, and I have unfinished business with those cobbles. And of course Mont Ventoux ("the windy mountain" in the simplest translation) doesn't seem like the most appealing place for a girl who hates climbing & hates riding in the wind, but the romance, the legends, the sparse, bleak beauty of the place transcend all. I
If I'm to have a hope of surviving those three I'll need to train - not just pootle about looking at the scenery, but actually ride harder and further and faster than ever before, and seek out longer and steeper hills to test myself against. So far the weather has conspired against me (I'm far from a fair-weather cyclist but even I'm not silly enough to go out on the roads in snow, ice & gale-force winds!) but hell, it IS January still!
The food: I've always loved good food, loved to shop, loved to cook, loved to eat. And by "good" I don't necessarily mean super-healthy (after all, what would life be without cake, or fish & chips at the seaside?) but with the turning upside-down of my life over the last couple of years I've lost my way a bit. The good shopping habits have gone - I can't justify a veg box that I can't use up by myself, and apart from a butcher and a cheese shop my new home town has little in the way of local produce, so I'm pretty much limited to the supermarket (I've yet to find a farmshop within riding-with-full-panniers distance.) Given how unexciting supermarket food is, it's surely no surprise that I lost my cooking mojo too, so my diet has become far too reliant on toast and pasta.
A couple of new cookbooks have given my motivation a bit of a boost (can't beat Nigel Slater & Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall for inspiration for quick, easy, wholesome food. I'd also like to treat myself to some of Yotam Ottolenghi's books) and I'm getting back into the habit of planning my meals, and using my days off to prepare food so I don't have to do a lot to get a proper meal inside me after a long day at work.
The self-care: By which I mean doing what I can to minimise the stresses of life. Keeping my flat tidy enough that I don't have to tear the place apart to find my keys on a morning; looking after my bike better to try and avoid mechanical disaster on my way to work (or worse, on the way home, in the dark & cold!); washing the dishes every evening so my favourite coffee cup is always ready & waiting at breakfast time; shaving my legs regularly enough so that IF it's warm enough for shorts one day I can just put 'em on; get my head straight and my bank account organised so I can stop having money-related panic attacks (I've never been good with money, & far too often find myself struggling to afford everything I need to. I'm hoping this will help: http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B0052MD8VO )
Wish me luck!