It’s that time of year again – the nights are drawing in, your season is done and the rain lashing the window is sapping any motivation to ride. With a long dark winter ahead let’s face it – it can be a pretty bleak time of year for a cyclist.
Which can only mean one thing – time to start planning next season!
Whilst there’s no question the shift to winter brings its own challenges, I often find November is one of the most inspiring times of the year as you look ahead to the following season and start getting your event calendar in shape.
There’s also a very real need for planning ahead in some cases: it’s at this time that many of the bigger events open for registrations.
For the more in demand races and sportives, you need to move fast to get a place in the starting pen, or risk missing out completely.
The other big benefit of getting the bulk of your season organised now is that the kind of events you are planning can – and ideally should – dictate the kind of training you’ll do during the off-season. Full summer of crit races planned? Or are you focusing on long distance hilly sportives? The way you train for these very different disciplines over the winter could make all the difference and really help you take your riding to the next level next season . I find getting things booked in not only keeps your training on point but also provides that well-needed motivation when the last thing you feel like doing is getting on a turbo trainer.
With this in mind I’ve been busy weighing up the options for 2020 and it’s starting to come together. I’ve already booked in some of my main road cycling events for the year, some completely new challenges, some tried and tested favourites. I’m sure there’ll be more to come, but these are the big road cycling events I’m down for so far in 2020:
Paris-Roubaix Challenge, April 11
This one really needs no introduction. An iconic event steeped in cycling history and a bucket-list ride of epic proportions. 172km point to point, including long stretches of the famous pave cobbles, and likely in unpredictable conditions. It’s a new one for me but one I felt I had to tick off. More info here: https://www.parisroubaixchallenge.com/en
Tour of Wessex, May 23-25
Another one new for me but a highly regarded three-day event that takes place over the May bank holiday weekend in Somerset. There are two options to choose from – 221 or 324 miles over the three days, or for the really brave, the 24 hour challenge where you attempt it all in one go. I’m in for the longer distance over the three days. Logistics are simple as the routes go out from the same place each day. Places still available now at https://www.earthsports.co.uk/Tour_of_Wessex_2020
Velo Birmingham, June 21
There’s always something special about riding on closed roads, and for most, that’s the big appeal of this 100 mile timed sportive in the Midlands, part of the successful Velo series. It’s somewhere I’ve never ridden before, and when some riding buddies signed up the FOMO took hold and I entered it too. Looking forward to this and it should be good training for the big one for me just two weeks later… https://www.velobirmingham.com
L’Etape Du Tour, July 5
Another one that really speaks for itself. As the official event of the Tour De France, it’s the big daddy of international sportives. 2020’s event takes place in Nice, with around 15,000 riders taking on the gruelling demands of stage 2 of next years Tour a week after the pros race the course (in around half the time of us mere mortals.)
At 177km and 3570m of climbing, the 2020 event is longer with slightly less climbing than last years’s relentless slog up to Val Thorens. The fact it’s a looped course rather than a point to point, making logistics far easier, is a real plus. This is my flagship event of the year and I’m hoping to peak my training just in time for it. https://www.letapedutour.com/en
Prudential RideLondon 100, August 16
For many UK riders, Prudential RideLondon is a bit of a right of passage. Its also a totally polarising event – many people have done it once and were put off forever, others see it as an essential highlight of the year.
I fall very much in the latter. As an ex-Londoner, nothing beats the thrill of riding in a high speed paceline through the closed roads of my home city, and for me, that novelty never wears thin. Sure, it’s busy, and with so many riders of mixed abilities sharing the road it can be sketchy, but as an event it is totally unique. A very fast, mostly flat course, the key is to get an early start wave time to get ahead of the masses, and join a decent group who can work together. I’m hoping to have some decent fitness by that point of the year and shave a few minutes off last year’s PB of 4h19m. The ballot is open now at https://www.prudentialridelondon.co.uk/
So that’s as far as I’ve got but it feels like its coming together. I also plan to throw in some road races and possibly a couple of trips overseas – potentially the Dolomites or Mallorca.
How is your season planning coming along? 2020 is around the corner and could be your best season yet!