By the end of this year I will have cycled just over 8,000 km, slightly less than in the last couple of years (I cycled about 9,000 km in 2013, 2014 and 2016 and topped 10,000 km in 2015).
At the same time, the number of century rides (rides of at least 160.9 km aka 100 miles in one day) has actually gone up. In 2012, my first season of century rides, I completed 11 of them. Both in 2013 and 2014 I rode 21. The next two years I managed 22 each. This year, with one week left to the end of the year, the total came to 27 centuries.
The biggest difference has been that I didn’t participate in any 400 or 600 km brevets this year due to my business travel schedule. Both in 2015 and 2016 I had signed up for one 400 km brevet (which I finished) and one 600 km (which I DNF’ed). Both years I also pre-rode the 400 km route on a personal long distance ride. So I missed some distance overall, but most months I managed to ride 2 or 3 centuries. It’s all about being consistent.
With my December rides I have extended my “A Century A Month” streak to 5 years and 4 months. To ensure that I can keep this up, I usually do a long ride on the first weekend of each calendar month. That way, if anything comes up later in the month, such as a typhoon hitting Japan or me having to travel abroad, I won’t have an issue.
One of the most important factors no doubt is to avoid injury. Many of my friends have been involved in road accidents. A broken collarbone or other severe injury could put you out of action for weeks or months. Any kind of road sport has risks, but I try to limit my exposure. I am not a very ambitious descender because with anything that happens at high speed, the negative effects will be magnified. I am not ambitious when cycling in a city either. Where I work hardest is on climbs, because I need to 🙂
I have been very pleased with my Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer. Last year I converted it to 11 speed with a Sugino “compact plus” double crank and hydraulic brakes. It has been fun to ride and extremely reliable. The ride comfort from the 42 mm Compass tires is terrific and I have been without puncture for 20 months now. I still ride my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket as well and had its rear converted to a disc brake a couple of months ago.
The main attraction of long rides to me is the views I come across, at all times of day, in all kinds of weather and in all four seasons. I ride to see things, by myself or with friends.
Here are some pictures from one year of cycling:
January: BRM107 by Audax Japan Kanagawa – Zushi-Izukogen-Zushi 200 km
January: Doshi village on my Bike Friday
February: Boso Peninsula via Kurihama Ferry across Tokyo Bay (cycling to and from Miura peninsula)
March: Mt Dodaira in Saitama, visiting the observatory
March: BRM318 in West Izu, the hardest 200 km brevet I ever rode
April: BRM408 in Yamanashi, the 3rd 200 km brevet this year
May: Ome Temple Loop, a very mountainous course in Saitama that I normally only do once a year. I did it twice this year 🙂
May: BRM520 around Mt Fuji — my fastest ever finishing time on this 300 km brevet
June: Doshi village for coffee and cresson cake.
July: Some hydrangea blossoms at a mountain ride in Hinohara with friends.
July: Tokyo/sea level – Mt Fuji 5th stage/2300 m – Odawara/sea level (first time in 4 years that I rode this course again)
August: First ride on Arima Toge in Saitama
September: First ride on Nokogiri Toge
October: A hunting falcon at Lake Okutama
November: Annual Chichibu Foliage Ride
December: West Izu Century (view from Kumomi Onsen towards Mt Fuji, 72 km away)