Year Review 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for all, I think that’s a fair assumption to make. It has been my first “full” year on the bike, and has helped me cope with the two biggest hardships that the year has thrown at me in a way that I could never have imagined.

It wouldn’t be a 2020 review without some mention of Covid19, so I’ll get that out of the way first.

Covid sucks. We all know that. I’ve suffered through two bouts of the illness, albeit with fairly mild symptoms. You can see the two major dips – March, and November – where I was off the bike for weeks of time, and then gradually began riding and recovering again.

The fall off after the first bout of illness appears far less pronounced than after the second, yet the first illness – for me – felt much worse.

I believe I was already on a downwards trend after the end of the outdoor summer riding season, and this was only exacerbated by illness. I’ll cover that more below.

In the grand scheme of things – or at least, in the year and a half I’ve been riding, these will likely average out to be small blips on the charts. At least, that’s what I hope.

Anyway, enough yakking about Covid.

The other life impacting thing that happened this year was the loss of three very close relatives. These events happened at the very start of the year, around the middle, and in early December.

Whilst I do not wish to dwell on these events for a variety of reasons, I found the bike helped me cope with the loss – and the changes that these events inevitably bring about – in a way I could never have anticipated. I guess, in some way, it’s a bit like Forrest Gump and his running…

Getting on the bike helped me.

I can’t really quite explain why. It’s not like I find sitting on the bike helps me think. Quite the opposite, in fact. Riding almost entirely stops me from thinking. Even indoors. I don’t ponder things on the bike. I don’t find that I can think clearly about things whilst pedalling. My mind kinda goes blank.

Yet still, I found the process cathartic on every occasion.

Again, I do not wish to dwell on these events here. I documented each ride – as I have with every ride – and if you are truly inclined, you can go back through the archives and find them. I won’t be digging out each one here.

I shall do my best to remain positive from here on out.

2019’s Goals – How Did I Do?

At the end of my Yearly Review for 2019 I set the following rough goals:

  1. Hit an FTP of 230w or greater
  2. Get outdoors
    1. Ride the Manchester to Blackpool cycling event
    2. Explore the nearby Fells
    3. Explore the Ribble Valley
  3. Blog my outdoor rides

FTP Goal

Let’s start with the big one.

I set myself the target of having an FTP of 230w or greater by the end of 2020.

I both hit, and missed this goal, depending on which way you look at it.

In late June, and early July I had two FTP bumps in quick succession. I broke my target of 230w by first hitting 234w, and then shortly after 238w (or 237w depending on which figures you go with).

Whichever way you look at it, it’s above the 230w target. I was well chuffed with this. I also had the belief that if I’d met my yearly target in 6 months, that by the end of the year I might be pushing 250w.

Not so.

As the graphs show above, my FTP dipped after the end of Summer, and as I am writing this, I’m at ~228w as an FTP figure. So, below my yearly target.

However, my mistake in setting the fixed FTP number was in not factoring in weight.

My weight dropped this year from the high 10 stone range at the start of the year, to 10 stone 6lb as I write this.

The way (no pun intended, arf arf) I should have set this goal was as a watts per kilogram figure. My mistake.

Anyway, mentally I consider this goal as met.

Outdoor Rides

It seems bizarre now, looking back, but at the start of 2020 I hadn’t ridden my bike outdoors. Madness.

One big thing that put me off riding outdoors was safety. I’ve mentioned before about people I have known being knocked down and killed whilst riding their bike around Preston, and that was enough to scare me away.

With that in mind, I figured an organised outdoor cycling event would be a great way to get on the open roads in a safe, and structured way. As such I planned to ride the Manchester to Blackpool cycling event.

Of course, with lock down, that inevitably got cancelled.

Cycling During Lockdown

One of the unexpected side effects of a national lockdown was the suddenly quiet roads. Whilst we were confined to our houses for most of the day, Borat and his cabinet of nincompoops decreed we were allowed out of our home prisons for an hour a day of exercise.

What better way to get comfortable out in the real world than when all the roads were practically deserted.

And so that’s how I regained my road going confidence. On ghostly roads, in the Spring sun, I began exploring the local roads once more, as I had done as a young kid over half a lifetime ago.

Slowly, I found the roads getting busier, and I found myself heading out further… and further, largely because the deeper in to the countryside I went, the fewer the cars were to be found.

During the second outdoor ride I did, I fell off and knackered myself in. It wasn’t all roses.

Exploring The Fells

Whilst early on in lockdown it became quite clear that events such as the Manchester to Blackpool ride were going to be postponed / cancelled, the possibility of heading out to firstly Beacon Fell, and then later on the two larger Fells of Parlick and Fair Snape, and one I’d never heard of – Hawthornthwaite – all started cropping up on my radar.

Again, during the early days of lockdown, it wasn’t clear if we were allowed to travel up to Beacon Fell. Was it open? Was it closed? Could covid spread in the woods? What was an avid dogger to do if all the good car parks were closed?

Truly a tough time.

Eventually I figured out I could look on Strava and see if people were setting times. And sure enough they were. So, open it must be. And away I went.

Then shortly after I went on what has to be one of my favourite rides of the entire year – through the Trough of Bowland.

On one of the hottest days of the year I continued my exploration of the Ribble Valley and learned that not all routes through beautiful scenery are always fun.


As a way to differentiate outdoor rides from being indoors, I decided to make short video blogs, or VLOGs for my longer outdoor rides. It felt more natural and, in many ways, fun. The only downside is all my good photos are “stuck” in those videos. Ahh, I didn’t think it through 😉

I’ll definitely continue to VLOG my longer outdoor rides as we move into 2021.

After all, who doesn’t enjoy a YouTube video with single digit view counts? The site needs more of them, that’s what I say.


One of the nice things about riding indoors is the abundance of climbs available in programs like Zwift, RGT Cycling, and Tacx Software. It’s really cool to be able to pick a hill, clip in, and with just a smidgeon of warm up, get involved in a nice, steady ascent.

Less so, it seems, outdoors.

I don’t drive to the climbs. I ride there. And that sometimes means I am exhausted by the time I get there.

Even so, having a tough climb thrown in at some point along the way is a focal point for any given ride. But finding local climbs of note wasn’t quite as easy as I’d have liked. And being a major geek, I decided to solve the problem the only way I knew how – by devoting months of my life to making a website.

With a bunch of down time from paid work due to the primary keyword of this post (covid), I decided why not use the time to learn a new bit of shiny web tech. This was something called Gatsby. I won’t go into the nerdery behind Gatsby, but 2020 was the year we came full circle again in web development. Static sites were once again the thing to be making.

Anyway, it turned out that Gatsby wasn’t a fan of my site. With ~250,000 climbs – meaning 250k different static pages – the process of building the website kept crapping out. A technical term.

So I switched to Next JS. Why am I telling you this? Because not only did this solve my immediate problem – of building the website – it also led to me getting some paid work again. Two birds, one stone.

As it happens, continues to grow. I’m now tracking just shy of 350k climbs all over the world, with another few hundred thousand yet to be uploaded.

My plans for this site extend beyond the real world, with a hope that in some point during 2021 I will also include all the climbs in the varying cycling “games” we all know and love. It’s going to remain a work in progress, though where it’s at currently feels like “good enough” for one year.

Oh, and it really helped me in finding local climbs to ride. Which, after all, was the whole point!

2019 Goal Status Round Up

  1. Hit an FTP of 230w or greater – done
  2. Get outdoors – done
    1. Ride the Manchester to Blackpool cycling event – cancelled 😞🎺
    2. Explore the nearby Fells – done
    3. Explore the Ribble Valley – done
  3. Blog my outdoor rides – done (well, VLOG would have been a better goal)

All in all, a good year on the goal front.

Indoor Events & The Advent of Cycling

Whilst it’s easy to get excited about the outdoor rides – everything was new to me – it was harder to get pumped up about riding yet another Zwift route. It’s partly my own fault in many ways, as I have drastically over done the Zwifting.

As the legend Owen Hart used to say, enough is enough and it’s time for a change.

I wanted to get started with The Sufferfest at two points during 2020. Both times I didn’t go through with it. I think it’s the prospect of having to do the 4DP test that puts me off. Or maybe it’s the name. Personally I don’t get my kicks from the cycling self-masochism of suffering.

Aside from the monumental(ly boring) Mont Ventoux, Zwift felt very much like that Simpons episode where Marge keeps altering her Chanel suit.

No matter how many ways they dress it up, riding Watopia over and over again isn’t giving me that sense of fun that it once did. I find myself often with Zwift on a second, or even third screen, as I watch Twitch / YouTube, and listen to music during my rides. The in-game graphics no longer hold much interest to me. And that’s a shame.

With that in mind, one of the biggest things I did this year to keep up my interest in turbo sessions was to create the Advent of Cycling challenge. In short, this was 24 consecutive rides, a bit like an exhausting version of the advent calendar. Let me tell you, Christmas never felt so far away as it did midway through that one.

Being able to complete the rides in any program, or out in the real world, gave the “event” a unique flavour. That said, 23 of the 24 rides took place in Zwift. Largely due to the cold, wet weather, and the dark nights after work.

Would I do that again next year? I really don’t know. Rest days are important, and this challenge gave none.

Strava Stats

I have a strange relationship with Strava. I really like what they do, but I find no super compelling reason to pay for their premium subscription. During the summer months it is nice to see the outdoor leaderboards for any given segment, but for £50+ a year, that alone just isn’t good value to me.

One nice thing I got late last week was my “year in sport” breakdown. It can only be experienced in the app, so here are the screenshots for me. If a picture is worth 1000 words, here’s 10,000 words I didn’t need to type:

The big ones for me is the 7469km travelled, and the 55,206m of climb. Mega.

They give me some indication of targets to aim for next year.


There’s a reason this site is called Cycling Indoors, and not Running Indoors. I don’t much like running.

But my wife bought a treadmill, so it would have been rude not to give Zwift Running a shot.

I didn’t do so well with this.

Managing just 6 runs, I ended up with sore knees. I think this is in large part due to crappy trainers. But I got so little enjoyment from it I didn’t have the desire to resolve the problem and continue with it.

Will I do any running in 2021? It’s hard to say, but it’s not something I have much desire to continue with. Cycling is definitely where it’s at for me. Perhaps some upper body work would be beneficial though.


I have to call out blogging as a separate thing in this yearly review as keeping up a blog like this takes a fair amount of work. Some days I can’t be bothered to get on my bike. For most any other sane person, doing an hours ride is enough. For me, I have to also factor in blogging the ride – another 10 minutes work, at least.

At this point it’s clearly a formed habit. One leads to the other.

I have no plans to stop the blog. I love the accountability. I love the fact I can look back and have a solid reference of everything I’ve done, every kilometre I’ve travelled. I really like the VLOGs, and how they give me a documentary-like evidence of my explorations.

Here’s some stats from the blog, which honestly is the first time this year I have looked at this. Kinda nuts:


I hope that out of all of these people, I have convinced at least one person to change their habits for the better and join me in this hugely positive, life changing sport.

Goals For 2021

  1. Attain an FTP of 3.9w/kg or greater
  2. Join a real world group ride
  3. Cycle an indoor metric century
  4. Finish the Zwift 2020 Academy Workouts
  5. Try The Sufferfest
    1. AKA complete the 4DP test
  6. Ride the Manchester to Blackpool cycling event (if it’s on)
  7. Cycle in a foreign country (if I can get there)
  8. Continue blogging & vlogging every ride

Thank You

Thank you very much for visiting this site in 2020.

May I say an extra special thank you if you have left a comment, sent me a email, replied on Strava or Reddit, and / or helped me in any way at all.

I wish you a very happy New Year, and here’s to a better 2021.

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