January 1st, 2016
Tired, heavy-headed and feeling more than a little guilty from the self-indulgent fortnight that rests in my Festive wake. Zipping up my jersey and tightening my shoes, I carefully and quietly creep towards the front door.
Click. Beep. Whir. Click. Whir.
The concrete roles beneath the rubber of two wheels with a satisfying hum and another challenge begins, only this time I know I’m not the only one.
At the beginning of this year, I launched 10,000km.cc, a collective that brings together cyclists from across the world that are committed to the joy of the journey and celebrating putting in the distance, consistently. Borne from a personal challenge, the idea is a relatively simple one: ride as far as you want or can, as often as you can and as frequently as you can over the course of a calendar year.
Of course, “far” is a relative term. 10,000km.cc therefore offers a range of targets that stem from the original number, but allow everyone to challenge (and push) themselves over 52 weeks. Whether you’re looking to cycle one commute a week (1,000km) or spend almost every free hour you have on the road (20,000km), the aim is to get people outside often.
There came a point in my cycling career (and I use that term in the loosest possible sense of the word) when I realised I wasn’t riding as far as I’d like.
It was at the end of 2014 and I’d spent almost every day of my Christmas holiday in the saddle, revisiting roads and routes I’ve known for many, many years. In those hidden hours, rolling out under the crisp, cool cloak of still-dark roads and returning home to find my family just beginning to sit down for breakfast, I pledged to spend 2015 riding further and seeing more than I had the previous year.
Somewhat unceremoniously, I settled on 10,000km. It was twice the distance I’d covered in the previous 12 months and it was a nice, round number. Most importantly, like any good challenge, it sounded difficult, but achievable.
I was right. It was difficult. But not in the way I imagined it would be.
It wasn’t the long rides that took their toll. The sportives, weekend-long jaunts around the UK with friends and a 350km one-day ride from Manchester to London all brought with them a sense of excitement and anticipation that would build in the preceding days and weeks as details were discussed and specifics were finalised. Come the day of the ride, you’re up and out the door before your alarm has had the opportunity to utter its first decibel. What’s more, those long, uninterrupted rides were an opportunity to catch-up with old friends, make new ones and discover roads, towns and villages I never would have otherwise (and may well see again).
The most difficult rides were, in fact, some of the shortest. Waking up on those dark, wet mornings I’d struggle to muster the strength to transfer my aching legs from the bed to the floor. The thought of pulling on what felt like every piece of kit I own in order to weave through London’s congested roads for half an hour was, at times, almost enough to send me whimpering back beneath the duvet.
I always found the drive to at least make it out of the bedroom, which tended to be at least half the battle, as the moment I was back in the saddle, I never regretted the decision. My one piece of advice on following this through as frequently as possible is to pack everything into your backpack the night before.
It’s January once more and, amidst its unpredictable and relentless weather, the challenge has begun once more. I’m back on two wheels and this year looking to add an extra 5,000km to last years total. However, there is a key difference this year; I’m now flanked by a growing community of almost 200 riders looking to do the same. There are few more powerful motivators than the picturesque and at times epic images, routes and stories of riders that have gone out to chip away at their milestones and discovered in the process.
One thing hasn’t changed. It’s still not about the speed or the stats. It’s still about the journey and the rest stops.
It’s not about going fast. It’s about going far.
10,000km is a cycling collective for you. Pledge today, join the movement and see what you can achieve in 2016.
The founder of 10,000km cc, Richard Frazier is dedicated to time on his bike. And as a senior manager at Workshop Coffee, he also knows a thing or two about cycling’s most celebrated partner.