Zero to a hundred: a mountain biking journey

The hills are alive with the delightful click of Shimano XT

So much has happened. So much. I don’t even know where to start, but in a nutshell, I’ve been extremely ill (like hospital ill), had a major operation and am now slowly slowly on the mend.

One positive of all of this is that my fitness has been reset to pretty much nil. How the heck is that a positive, you think? Well, it means that instead of battling against my own body trying to improve okay-ish fitness, I’m starting from zero with a body that can’t hold me back how it used to.

I feel like I’ve got a second chance at life, and I’m going to make the most of it.

Step one was deciding what I wanted to do with my new found health freedoms.

I decided to focus on improving my cycling and, like a lunatic, have decided that I want to ride a century. That’s 100 miles. Yes, an imperial century, not a metric century. Go big or go home, right?

This will not be happening quickly. I’m not even strong enough to stand on my pedals properly right now, so the goal is to do this in mid-2024. I’m a realist, but if it happens sooner, so be it.

There are some interim goals before the big one hundred. I want to nail the Downs Link (35 miles Guildford to Shoreham) by the middle of next year, because it defeated me and I want revenge. I want to ride a sportive by the end of next year. I’m being realistic about those too though – my operation has not cured my chronic illness, but it’s made life a hell of a lot simpler.

I have a new two-wheeled companion for this journey. I sold my darling Angus and bought myself a nice lightweight cross country bike.

Excuse the bucket, I need to tidy up.

This fine fellow is Sherman, so named because like his military namesake, he’s good on most terrain and sure-footed, which is what I need. Angus was a delight, bless him, but I outskilled his capabilities. Sherman is an entry level race machine and a real mile muncher, so unless I develop an overriding need for carbon or electronic shifting, he’s a bike for life.

He’s a Trek X-Caliber 9, with 29 inch wheels and because I’m a shortarse, a dropper post so I can actually get on him. The gearing is far better for my planned mountain biking journey – Shimano XT 1×12, 10-51, which is all the gears I need and then some. A fabulous bike, and I know the only thing holding him back is my own fitness.

I’m planning to post my progress here to track my journey and share with you all how it’s going. And to share some beautiful countryside photos too! I’m lucky enough to live near some beautiful woods, so of course those will feature.

And now, I’m off to the gym. That’s an integral part of this journey too, it’s not just about biking. If I can move tomorrow, I’ll be out for a ride.

Vic (and Sherman) out ~

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