When Best Laid Plans... Don't go to Plan!

The Specials - From left to right - Alan, Ian and Owen discussing the art of brewing tea - and why the newfangled teapots drain from the bottom and not the top @ Wayland’s Yard - Worcester.

The Specials - From left to right - Alan, Ian and Owen discussing the art of brewing tea - and why the newfangled teapots drain from the bottom and not the top @ Wayland’s Yard - Worcester.

A rare photo of Owen without a hat, sporting a retro wool jersey gifted to us by the late Andy Oliver - a cycling legend in his own right. Owen is stood with our hero of 2018, Ollie Meads, who rose to the challenge and smashed it like a boss.

A rare photo of Owen without a hat, sporting a retro wool jersey gifted to us by the late Andy Oliver - a cycling legend in his own right. Owen is stood with our hero of 2018, Ollie Meads, who rose to the challenge and smashed it like a boss.

Christmas and New Year has been and gone. We’ve consumed our body weights in alcohol and food and we’ve started this first week in January 2019 feeling a little sluggish and a little ashamed; ashamed because despite our best laid plans our Rapha Festive 500 plans didn’t quite go to plan!

So what happened?

A Successful Start

The Rapha Festive 500 is a challenge you can track with Strava, and riders have to complete 500km of riding over 8 days, between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. As you can see from our Strava Club, the challenge started off well!

Christmas Eve saw a total of 6 riders, Ollie, Ian, Alan, Mic, Owen and myself all ventured off to Wayland’s Yard in Worcester. A short route of 40 miles and a destination that caused a lot of conversation about the art of tea making, but it was a fun start to the challenge. We met our good friend and ex-colleague ‘Speedy’ Kev too.

Christmas Day was a rest day, full of too much turkey and Prosecco.

Boxing Day and we decided to go to a familiar and favourite haunt of ours - Coffee #1 in Pershore. It’s a nice flat route out and the reward at the cafe is great food and drinks. Ollie and Kevin Y joined us on the Boxing Day ride (although Kevin didn’t stop at the cafe to enable him to get back in time for the local football match!) and again the ride was enjoyable, full of laughs and at a steady pace.

December 27th - and Owen and I were both suffering with soreness in the saddle region - so we decided last minute to return to Pershore again. This time we were joined by Alison, Scott and Ollie. It was thoroughly enjoyable spending time on the road with new faces, hearing more about the people that have supported our business with their purchases.

Excuses, Excuses…

But then December 28th came - and despite being on track we were both fatigued and sore. I could barely sit in the saddle the day before, making the miles much harder.

Feeling sore we decided to take the day off and see how the legs (and other key areas) felt for 24 hours off the bike. Needless to say this immediately meant we were losing ground and making the challenge ahead even more difficult.

When dawn broke the next day Owen decided he simply wan’t enjoying the challenge enough to warrant pursuing the goal, and we decided that given the last few months we deserved a bit of time off playing Xbox and drinking beer. And that’s fine - there is something to be said about the joy of suffering; having ridden countless miles on a fixed wheel in horrendous conditions I can honestly attest to the ‘smiling through the miles’ mentality - but sometimes suffering is exactly that - just suffering. There’s no joy, no pleasure, no insight gained through it or for it.

Occasionally it’s OK just to say, ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

Others that we had ridden with had either set the own rides up to achieve the goal, or others had said they were not pursuing the goal as it was too big a commitment, so we weren’t letting anyone down. Except…. it turned out…. we were. We were letting down Ollie.

Our Man Ollie Meads

Ollie hadn’t originally joined the Festive 500 challenge on Strava when he rode with us Christmas Eve. He joined the rides simply to spend some time on the road with us as we hadn’t ridden together for a while. But after a couple of days he kinda got hooked on the idea and announced that he had also signed up to the challenge!

On December 28th he had plans elsewhere and wouldn’t be out riding with us - and I figured that like us he would abandon his attempt when we decided to stop trying.

But he didn’t. He persevered.

And to our delight, Ollie SMASHED the Festive 500!!!

Not only did Ollie complete the Festive 500, but he also did a December Gran Fondo challenge during the Festive 500, completing 100km+ in a single ride. Ollie made up the miles in group rides, solo rides, small circuit laps and big days out! He became committed ot the cause even when those around him failed!

What I love about this is Ollie isn’t your typical cyclist. Unlike Owen, he isn’t what one would describe as ‘race weight’. Ollie is a big guy, with a big heart and big drive, and despite not originally chasing the 500, and despite us dropping out, Ollie championed on and achieved the goal - and I’m absolutely made up for him! Chapeau Ollie!!!

Be Like Ol - Rise to the Challenge

We’ve all seen those ‘Be Like Bob’ memes - but if my New Year’s Resolution is anything, it’s going to be ‘Be Like Ol - and rise to the challenge!

I plan to embrace more challenges (especially on Strava - a tool I have previously resisted) and I plan to get involved in more local sportives and rides. (Check out our website for local rides in 2019!)

I plan to do a lot more riding than I did last year! One thing that Ollie said during our rides that really struck me was that he enjoyed just riding - and that his previous riding had become too focused on going as hard and as fast as possible. I think a lot of riders are guilty of that, and while that pursuit starts as fun it can quickly become almost soul destroying.

I want to spend more time laughing while riding - even if that’s counter productive to the whole speed thing.

We are definitely planning on holding more shop rides, occurring on a much more regular basis - so stay tuned! Best way to keep up to date with our shop rides is to follow us on Facebook.

Hannah Smith