Dan – ashmei and other 2017 plans

With the spring classics upon us, and my plans starting to come together now seems like a good time to say a few words about what I’ve got going on throughout 2017.

I’m very lucky to have been shortlisted as part of the ashmei ambassador programme. Based just down the road from me in Aldbury, ashmei are a brand that I’ve followed for a few years now.  I actually contacted them about sponsorship before they started their ambassador programme, but at the time I wasn’t doing anything competitive or really doing anything on social media. For those of you who don’t know who ashmei are, they’re a cycle clothing company that take a unique approach to clothing for cycling, running and triathlon, using some technology and materials that just aren’t used elsewhere. They also pride themselves on kit that doesn’t compromise.

Like most cyclists I’ve collected kit bags full of different gear, some good some bad and some confusingly not fit for purpose. Commuting shows up poor kit, as will the longer rides and trips that I have planned, Revolve24 certainly did last year! I also make a point of choosing kit and equipment that is a little bit left-field, not quite the norm. Ashmei are definitely those things. I also love the idea of being involved with such an exciting a local company and helping them develop new gear. I’m also looking forward to meeting the other applicants who, if last years ambassadors are anything to go by, will be a very talented and varied bunch!

The event is on the 25th of March, at their HQ in Aldbury, so keep your eyes peeled for a post afterwards to see how I get on.

As for competition, anyone who knows me will know that whilst I love planning and logistics, I rarely aim to have every race for the next 12 months on a calendar by February, so with that in mind, this is a fairly fluid account of what I have planned, as well as why.

Already, a few things have changed and targets have needed adapting.  I have also needed to confirm time off with work for a few things, which although primarily on the motorcycle racing side of things has an impact on everything.

When I started to put these plans together, talking to friends and family about 2017 at the back end of last year there was one, very ambitious goal which was Transcontinental (TCR) No5 (www.transcontinental.cc).  I’ve been following the race almost obsessively since 2015 and decided that now was the right time to bite the bullet.  Unfortunately I didn’t make it past the ballot stage this time around, which lead to the first change of plans as I had another year to prepare for 2018 instead.

So the grand plan, the long term target as it were, is to aim for Transcontinental in 2018.  This will mean entering the ballot again when it goes live at the end of the year and hoping for the best. I’m still collecting equipment, but have all of the key bike packing gear along with a new GPS. To this end I plan on doing some overnight trips throughout the UK over the summer months, logging bigger miles than I’m used to and navigating to start to prepare myself for the enormous challenge that is riding across Europe in a fortnight.

More immediately, the short term target that I’ve settled on, with a bit of persuasion from my riding buddies is to give a bit more focus to criterium and road racing. Having done a couple of races in 2016, one which went reasonably well and one which didn’t, I wasn’t overly ambitious with my targets. The plan was to use 2017 to build some more experience in the bunch, and hopefully graduate out of 4th cat. Having chatted extensively to some racing buddies, that seemed like a sensible approach.

This led to me heading along to Hillingdon for the penultimate round of their winter series with racing buddy number one, Pete (off-the-back.com) where to cut a long story short I took a very unexpected win. After that I headed to two more races, one at Redbridge where I struggled and finished off the back of the bunch, and another at Cyclopark in Gravesend, where I came 4th giving me enough points to move up to 3rd Cat. That’s changed my target again, so as a 3rd Cat I’ll be entering Crit and road races throughout the year, work dependant. Trying to learn and develop my bunch skills and see where that takes me. 40 points to 2nd Cat is probably over-ambitious, but who knows?!

The final piece of the cycling puzzle, my medium term target and biggest one off event in 2017 is Revolve24. Those of you who’ve read my post on this last year will recall a paragraph at the bottom where I vowed never to do it solo again. Well, now that the dust has settled, I have committed to having another go at it. I’ve got together a very experienced pit crew, with Jules who was an absolute legend last year, assisted by Matt who runs this page and knows a thing or two about spanner twirling meaning that they can work shifts, rather than trying to stay up for the entire event.  After last year, I know what it entails, have made some major changes to my plan for pacing and want to achieve the 400km goal that I missed out on last year by just under 30km.

In amongst all of these bits and pieces I’ll still be commuting,  trying to avoid the wildlife and as I alluded to at the start racing onboard the Fuzion Racing Sidecar at various Classic Racing Motorcycle Club meetings throughout the year.  Videos from those races will all go on to Youtube, hopefully with some racing as close as we saw last year.

Keep an eye out for more updates soon.  2017 is going to be a good one!