In short, my total mileage was significantly LESS than recent years, for a number of reasons. 2023 certainly won’t be missed by me, that’s for sure.
But first, what were the numbers?
My riding stats
A look at my Strava numbers had me worried because they didn’t seem to add up. I am adamant I covered 2009 miles during 2023, yet my breakdown of numbers by bike doesn’t add up – I can only find 1971.5 miles.
Could it be – yikes – that I rode for 38 miles without recording it on Strava??
Closer examination suggests my Zwift turbo trainer sessions toward then end of the year are not reflected in the bike totals.
Maybe that’s a bug from not paying a subscription and missing out on more granular data? Or something to do with putting my Garmin though a fast spin cycle in the washing machine and relying on my phone to record distance instead.
It’s a mystery!
Here’s the breakdown…
|Bike:Cannondale Topstone 105SE
|Bike:Bird Aether 9
|Bike:Specialized Secteur Elite
What isn’t a mystery is how poor those figures are.
2023 was even more disappointing. Facts don’t lie and 2009 miles is way off what I hoped for.
Why the poor show?
Things had started to go ‘wrong’ back in 2022 which I spoke about in my annual roundup last year. My crash at Bike Park Wales sparked immediate consequences but coming into January 2023 things just weren’t right.
I struggled to cobble miles together up until mid March but found myself off the bike through most of April, May and June.
The cause? A trapped nerve in my neck giving me enough difficulty that just holding my head up at times was painful, let alone riding a bike.
It was immensely frustrating to me and took weeks of ‘light touch’ physio, micro exercises and strong painkillers before things started to settle down to a new normal. Which is not the same as the old normal.
I was eventually diagnosed with a disc prolapse in my neck which is not necessarily as bad as it sounds. Most of us have something wrong with our back if we turn an MRI on it, and the key is to keep it moving.
Effect on riding
I am back riding but still need to work continually to maintain some endurance in my neck via those micro exercises I mentioned. It could get worse; I’m at the ‘do nothing’ stage intervention-wise but it could escalate to X-ray guided steroid injections or even an op. I am very keen to avoid all of that.
I’ve always found the only way to really get fit for cycling is to cycle, (perhaps augmented by other activities but there’s no avoiding the cycling bit). At the moment I am fine up to about 15 miles/1.5 hours so I’m just trying to build up methodically.
Since mid-year, most monthly totals have only been about 200-220 miles of riding with August standing out by reaching 360 miles. December also saw an uptick but I just wasn’t fit enough to join Gordon and others in a REDIN effort.
Any other factors?
There’s clearly been an effect on mental health. It’s really frustrating being off the bike but even when I’m back riding its been sporadic. That slow recovery has been a bit of a wake up call.
I’ve always valued riding company, perhaps more so now than earlier in my riding career as I find it gets you out and excercising when you know you’ve made a commitment to others.
Even so, feeling sub par has resulted in a definite lonely-in-a-crowd feeling which has been a struggle at times. I can’t really put my finger on it and it’s wider than simply cycling, but it’s partly bound up with intimations of mortality. We’re not over the hill by any means, but some of us have a clear view of the other side!
Of course, what I didn’t need in the autumn was a big crash.
Yet Sauvage claimed my scalp big time. That was a hard landing and again fed into wider concerns.
It was a bigger crash – and a luckier outcome – than many I’ve had in the past couple of years. My over-the-bars flip first time out on the Bird in 2021, Bike Park Wales in 2022, and then this big crash are telling me something.
Let’s be positive
I don’t want to be negative. There’s still a whole list of things I want to achieve, that includes lots of cycling related stuff.
Getting back out to the continent for some bigger road rides appeals, particularly after our 100+ mile ride around the Somme. With little preparation, I made it anyhow, even if I was slowing down markedly toward the end. That wasn’t just down to fitness – my bike had tired gears and a rubbing brake that disturbed my peace of mind the whole ride!
I also miss my summer weeks riding round the flat empty roads of the Loire region which I haven’t been able to repeat for a while. Kids growing up are no longer keen to sit round a pool in the middle of nowhere while I head out for the morning!
On the subject of which, the Spanish adventures of the Moles made good reading during the summer while I was languishing off-bike. Thanks to Lloyd for the effort to write up his experiences and to MarkC for his SDW in a Day and Barcelona gravel stories among others.
In fact, it’s a good point to thank any and all who contributed articles or comments over the year. The site now has 1574 stories and 9,600 comments submitted over the years. What a legacy.
All those thoughts lead me to thinking that the best thing about cycling is the company and experience more than the kit. Particularly now that MTBs are – I think – a well refined product. But these are thoughts for another discussion and another day.
If anyone has any story or thoughts they’d like to write up for the site – hit me up!
It’s been brilliant having people add content over the years and has really contributed to the community feel of the website.
So, goodbye 2023. You really won’t be missed. Let’s look forward to a hopeful 2024 instead!