It’s so easy to look forward to 2021 with a near desperation. More start lines, travelling with the team again, catching up with friends from around the world and getting back to racing.
2020 started with a bang for the team and I, we had so much planned, so many trips, so many races and so many creative ideas that we were looking forward to sharing with you. Unfortunately a global pandemic pulled the rug from under us and the entire world – yet, despite it’s setbacks I have to say it has been a progressive year for me and the team in terms of having to find my and our way.
Highlights, well we had to work for them, we had to adapt, be creative, we had to plan, get disappointed, pick ourselves up and plan again. It was frustrating to keep training for start lines that kept moving. Sometimes you simply have to keep going with the assumption that success is inevitable.
As we prepare to bring the curtain down on a year like no other here are (in no particular order) the highlights of the season that was 2020!
1. Breaking the Malin-Mizen-Malin (1187KM’s) World Ultra-Cycling Association (WUCA) World record by 4 hours and 23 minutes under what could only be described as obstructive and challenging conditions.
2. Experiencing that incredible 44-hour and 15 mins of being in the ‘flow’ state of the race. It’s a rare experience to be in the presence of the race like this. Pure performance gold, it’s right up there with the bronze medal winning, team time trial in the Commonwealth Games 1986.
3. Building and racing the SPIEGEL Diablo that broke that World Record. I’ve raced Colnago’s for decades so it was a significant shift for me. Why did I make the shift - ride a Diablo and you’ll see!
4. Jill and I started to build our dream home, a rustic timber frame cottage in the most magnificent garden in Co.Tyrone.
5. New faces on the team, bringing new energy and skills to the team. I’ve been blessed with good people, past and present. Every team evolves and 2020 was a year of evolution. At TJB we don’t look backwards, we reach further and look forward.
6. Working so well with the fantastic folks at White’s Oats! It’s terrific to establish a strong partnership with such a like-minded local company whom, like us at TJB, value the power of community and building lasting relationships. We couldn’t deliver on the season we planned but we could deliver a very special COVID season. White’s Oats were steadfast in their support. It’s a testament to them as a company.
7. Establishing a new route for the West-East-West World Ultra-Cycling Association (WUCA) World Record. The joy of racing such a beautiful route Coast to Coast…immeasurable!
8. Starting and finishing the West-East-West Record in Slea Head, Co. Kerry. Have you been? You must go. It is breathtaking.
9. Being an active member of the World Ultra-Cycling Association’s Board and getting to work alongside a bunch of committed, hard working folk who want to build the sport of endurance cycling.
11. Getting to custom build bikes for people who love to ride. I have to pinch myself on this one.
12. Our Race Joe Barr series was rescheduled to September 26th and then downsized.
It was a tough call but the right call. Every category delivered and brought the race. It was amazing to see such strong female performances. Our vision is to be on every endurance rider’s bucket list and inspire everyone who races with us to reach further and achieve more. And let's not forget it was the first year that The Joe Barr 500 was an official Race Across America qualifier!
13. I’ve been inspired by so many performances this year – Philip Culbert, Denise Molloy, Chris Beattie, Nicola Dorey, Marc Poland, Marko Baloh, Ralph Diseviscourt & Mads Frank.
14. Getting to race on the XeNTiS Mark3’s. I’ll put it like this, for a humble push-bike rider like me, it’s like owning a Ferrari and living on a yacht in Monte Carol.
15. Watching our friend and ultra-cyclist Marc Poland use Powerhouse aerodynamic clothing to break the 100 km world record for his age group on an outdoor track, Bristol Motor Speedway. I’d love to ride on a track like that.
16. All the White’s Oats we ate and the TRIFUEL and Invigor8 we drank. You guys keep us nourished body and soul. Thank you!
17. Having more time to coach more people who are intent on reaching further and being the best they can be.
18. Garth at Powerhouse clothing for the TJB branded facemasks and the incredibly beautiful, limited edition Salice Helmets. Garth, you make my head look good.
19. One of the best decisions we made in 2020 was to carry a GPS tracker by Primal tracking when we did our two World Records. The support on the road was truly humbling. You brought life and inspiration to what it means to Reach Further. You gave me a deeper understanding of both who I am and what I do. For this, I am in your debt.
20. I’ve had the most amazing year with my partner, Jill. We continue to follow our North Star.
As we bid farewell to a year that has in so many ways made us appreciate what’s important, we can also be grateful for the lessons it has taught us (albeit perhaps we aren’t grateful for the way we were taught).
Let’s also be mindful that everything is temporary so in the essence of 'Reaching Further' my only advice is to dream big and live boldly, whatever that means for you.
May 2021 be just that, the year of personal dreams and bold action in the direction of those dreams.