After reading last year’s Christmas letter, I can see just how different 2013 has ended up being. The main driver for that is that my shoulder is completely normal after last year’s surgery & rehab (so much so that when people occasionally ask after it, I’m always slightly taken aback). That has meant that excessive travelling fell by the wayside as I spent much time biking. Before much biking, there was last winter to get through – I escaped to Egypt for sun at Christmas last; Christmas morning at the pyramids was certainly unusual. A country still in a state of upheaval & flux, it was a fascinating trip.
I moved into a new role at work about a year ago, which meant quite a few months of learning plenty while still trying to tidy up things in my previous position. Along with my car comprehensively failing its annual inspection & many problems with the replacement, what turned out to be some of the best concentrated biking I’ve had was a welcome change.
After a couple of days having a look around Chicago, I met Megan, Alex & their son, Finn, in Utah. We went to mountain-bike mecca Moab and did little except camp, ride bikes (a lot) and eat. As on my last visit, the scenery was stunning and the riding exceptional. STOP PRESS – Megan has just made a rather fun video that makes me yearn for sun, rocky trails, & great riding – much more interesting than me prattling on about Moab.
The summer was bookended by two big trips biking – Moab being the first. That meant that I travelled very little during the summer – but that worked out well as we actually had a cracking summer of weather in the UK & the riding was plentiful. Preparing for a three-day stage race in September I entered a number of longer-distance events around the south-west UK & Wales. This being about the only photo of I have me “racing” – on a strangely scorching Shropshire day:
The other bookend event for the summer was the three-day Rift Valley Odyssey in Kenya. Partly an excuse to get back to Africa & visit Adrian and partly a nice big riding adventure to train for & achieve, I was pleased to return to Africa – it’s a fascinating place after all. The summer of preparation did me well & the only real difficulty in the 5500 metres of climbing over three days and 260 kilometres was a bit of digestive trouble at the top of a huge, hot & humid climb halfway through Day Two – not sure if it was the heat, too much food or the anti-malarial tablets; anyway, I survived the remainder of the day on next to no food and recovered enough that the last day (eighty-odd kilometres) was easy.
I was too busy riding to get many photos, but I quite like these two taken while riding along:
The second week of the trip was spent in Tanzania with Adrian, Carmen & their two children. As they’d only just moved there, it was a relaxed week as they settled in a bit more and I recovered from the big bike ride. Adrian & I did grab the chance for an overnight trip to a relatively close national park – there were many more elephants around than I saw on my last safari four years ago; an excellent end to another fantastic trip visiting Adrian & Carm.
Many months before, it seemed a good idea to book a trip to New England in the fall – after a particularly busy return to work, it wasn’t seeming so smart. Nonetheless, I was pretty sure that I’d enjoy a short road trip around the north-east of North America. With little biking, beautiful autumnal colours, nice cities (Montreal & Boston particular favourites) and absolutely fabulous food it turned out to be a very relaxing trip which was well worth it. Although the photos don’t really compare to Utah and Africa – here’s one of Ottawa:
Shortly after my return from Canada, all medium-term plans got thrown to the wind as it was revealed that the plant where I work would close next year. It was a sudden, but not altogether surprising announcement; things are becoming clearer now & I’m looking forward to a 2014 that will be very different to what I was expecting. As far as I can tell, I’ll have work for about half the year – during which I will frantically save & prepare for extensive time biking in places yet to be decided. Mum, & probably Adele, plan on visiting for a cousin’s wedding in May – so I’m well looking forward to that.
Merry Christmas & may the new year be a great one for you.