Photo: I’m a Bianchi Boy through and through.
You know that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach when you think you’ve made a big mistake.
That’s how I felt a few kilometres in on my first ride, on the first day of the year, on my very nice Christmas present. It felt a bit heavy and sluggish. With disc brakes for the first time I was expecting it to be a bit heavier and to handle differently, but not that slow.
On the flat I just couldn’t get it going. Turning the bike uphill it didn’t feel any better. I could see Passo Beato Sante ahead if me. It’s 400m and within sight of home so a good test. I struggled at first but as I climbed and it got a little steeper it seemed to get easier. By the end of the ride I was feeling much better. I concluded that after an indulgent Christmas and not much riding the problem was with the rider, not the bike.
Not being on the bike much over the last two months gave me an opportunity to do some research and make plans for 2022. I learnt about a number of challenges throughout Europe. Maybe I’m being over ambitious or even foolish but I’ve decided to go for:
- International Super Randonneur. A one year challenge. Each of the Super Randonneur series (minimum 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km) must be ridden in a different country. I’m planning on riding the 200km in Croatia or Slovenia. Sicilia Non stop (Italy), HBKH (Germany) and LEL (UK) below will cover the rest.
- Europe Challenge Randonnèe. A four year challenge normally ridden in consecutive years (Covid put paid to that) 2019 Paris-Brest-Paris (done); 2021 1001Miglia (done); 2022 Hamburg-Berlin-Köln-Hamburg and London-Edinburgh-London. The big challenge is that after HBKH I will only have a week to get to London, rest and start LEL.
- L’Italia del Grand Tour (IGT). A five year challenge. 2021 1001Miglia (done); 2022 Sicilia Non Stop and Alpi 4000; 2023 Transalp Rando and 6+6 Sardegna; 2024 1001 Miglia e Sicilia no stop; 2025 999 Miglia
So the plan for 2022 includes:
- January: Rando Befano (200km)
- Mar-April: Audax in Croatia/Slovenia (200km)
- May: Sicilia Non Stop (1,000km)
- June: Alpi 4000 (1,400km)
- August: HBKH (1,500km) & LEL (1,500km)
I bought the bike with these challenges in mind. My first disc brakes and tyre clearance up to 32mm to accommodate the increasing number of gravel sections that some organisers like to include.
I just have to remember I bought it more for comfort than speed.
This will be my biggest cycling year yet. I hope I make it.