You may remember that time I had a go at the Bryan Chapman Memorial 600km Audax and made an absolute dog's breakfast of it and was sick in a hedge and didn't finish it and had to get rescued. Here's the write up of that day's work, which doesn't rank among my finest. Anyhoo, it's time for another crack, eh. If only just so see that view again in the pic at the top. Assuming I get that far, and it isn't raining.
So what's changed since my last go? Well, I'm six years older. And six years wiser? Well, no, but I am a bit wiser: I have the knowledge of what happened the first time, for a start. And I also have the knowledge of experiencing some similar dark times on a DIY 600km the following year but working through them with my friend and sometime crutch Dan and being able to complete the ride. And, obviously, the pain of that day in Wales has dulled enough that I'm willing to put myself through it all again. Yay!
When you pay your entry fee at the back end of 2023 and the ride's the next summer you feel like you have all the time in the world to get yourself ready, but then time occurs and suddenly it's February and the event's not much more than three months away. And I'm not unfit, but after a couple of years of pretty heavy-duty adulting I did start 2024 as heavy, as I was nearly ten years ago when I first made an effort to lose the timber and get race fit. Nothing makes the weight go back on quite like not having any targets. Oh, and moving to racing on Zwift, where you can conveniently forget about updating the numbers northwards.
Again, I'm wiser now in that I know it can be done: I've done it before, and I know what works for me. So out go most of the carbs, and out comes the spreadsheet with its weekly incremental weight losses on the way to a notional target that I'll more than likely miss, but at least I'll be in a better place than I am now. There's 15kg to shift to make the target of 90kg, of which I've so far managed the easiest four. Realistically ten should be enough. A side benefit of getting a bit leaner will be the ability to take the fight to some of the other chaps when we head to the Vosges for a week in August and point ourselves at some significant climbs. Currently I'm not really a threat.
Riding-wise the start of the year has been encouraging. I've made an effort to be out on the bike in some way, shape or form every day, even if it's just over to Sainos on the ebike to get some shopping. And a week into February I'm still gloating over a 100% record, with two 100km+ rides to boot. At this point I'm even above where I was in 2018, the last time I attempted the BCM and to date my best ever year for riding. Some other big rides are planned: there's the annual cake-fest of the 200km Barry's Bristol Butt Buster booked in for March, and in April I'm planning to ride to Sheffield to see my daughter at Uni, which will take care of a 300km day out. Just a 400km to find and I should be able to finally complete my super randonneur series, assuming the BCM goes okay. But I've said that before...
There is also talk of an everesting attempt amongst some friends. Today I went out at lunch and did eight laps of my preferred local hill, which at 89m of ascent is exactly 1% of a full everest for each go. I didn't end that ride feeling like I desperately wanted to do it another 11 times. But then, neither did I think it was absolutely out of the question. If I can lose the weight and get round the BCM it becomes a more realistic prospect; it's less than half as far is one way of looking at it. I mean, how hard can it be? Having to mentally deal with the fact that at any point during the presumably 20-or-so hours of the attempt I'll never be more than about 1,500m from my nice soft bed would almost certainly be the most difficult part.
So: a load planned, and like other recent years it might all go to shit for one reason or another. But I'm a bit more optimistic for 2024, and I'll keep you posted.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.