This is a thank you note. (And a thought on how change happens.)
My electric cycling gadget tells me that, this year, I have cycled 5,603km and climbed 48,755m on 140 rides taking 229h 29m. I also entered my first athletic competition for over ten years - the Walbury Hill Climb. I am fitter than I have been for a long time. I feel good.
Why did this happen this year? I've always tried to keep fit, doing better some years than others, but it's been decades since I've done this much. Something has changed. And I've concluded it's down to a combination of two things: Banjo Cycles, a bike shop in Newbury; and Strava, the software service behind my cycling gadget. It's little to do with my determination or self-discipline.
Banjo is an excellent bike shop. They have lots of lovely bikes; all manner of must-have shiny things; and jolly good coffee shop, with cakes. But they also run a cycle ride at 8am every Saturday morning, which I've been doing since February. There is an extraordinarily nice bunch of people who do it. I really look forward to Saturday mornings. It's never a battle to get out of bed.
Strava is excellent also - not just because it neatly chronicles my bicycle riding but because it connects me with my cycling chums. It's a sort of Facebook for cyclists with liking and commenting and all that. It's encouraging to see mileage build up and times improve, but the real motivation comes from being able to share experiences with others.
I'm not fitter because I have tried to cycle more. I'm fitter because I have become part of a community. So thank you Strava and particularly Banjo Cycles. And of course... the bunch.