You know what we need?!” Said the wide eyed Product Manager who had clearly had too much coffee at the morning tea break, not to mention too many muffins that year. I winced, as I knew what was coming down the pipe next. The 148th corporate cliche that morning was about to be unleashed on my face like a moneyshot… And here it came before I could intervene:

“We need a B-HAG!”

And there it was… They threw their hands out like a weird extra on Glee, the pride on their face that of a person who clearly thought they were the first in the history of business to suggest setting a goal. To follow up and confirm their fuckwittery to me, they then proceeded with that trademark move of explaining an overused acronym to their audience. “It means…” I couldn’t bear it any longer…

I know what it fucking means…” but that didn’t stop them from almost singing it out, they were on a roll after all: “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal!!”. The eyes of the attending corporate lemmings went wide and their tales wagged, all gagging to take that sweet dive off the edge of common sense and into an abyss of fuckwittery.

Before I knew it, ‘Goals‘ for the year ahead at work (even though we were 3 months late ‘planning’) were being fired out that had about the same chance of being realistically achieved as if were to set my cycling goals out as follows:

  • Win a Spring Classic, preferably beating Tom Boonen in a 2 up sprint in a French Velodrome
  • Win an EWS round, preferably beating Sir Grubby on dry and fast terrain
  • Take a Tour de France stage or 3, maybe a TT as well as a mountain stage? Before pulling out as I don’t like Paris traffic and would prefer to stay in the south.

My colleagues filed out in drone like formation, content with setting goals that would turn to shit faster than the corporate lunch buffet everyone was now destroying at the end of the ‘great session guys‘. I couldn’t help but reflect not only if the point had been missed, but also how much mess there was coming due to a “planning session” that put all the soft shell eggs into one basket.

Yes, yes, I know, this is the moment where someone from LinkedIn or Fuckbook hits me with this cheese because I’m beginning to sound like a goal hater:

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Cute, they even used different fonts to try and exaggerate their point

On the contrary, given I am hairy and at times, apparently, audacious, I’m partial to setting Goals here and there, and I wholeheartedly accept its the way to go. Yes, goals are extremely critical to a LOT of cyclists… They act as a lifeblood to get many of us out of bed and spinning cranks when its raining, cold, we can’t be fucked or just need the motivation to suffer for a cause.

So, as we wind down 2015 and get ready for the time honoured goal setting exercise for the year ahead, I think that big, one off goals have a case to answer for. I get it that they are the main ingredient in providing motivation for a lot of us out there, but they also have their own demons. Allow me to elaborate…

The build up

Once the big juicy target is chosen, be it a race or one of the things on your cycling ‘To do’ list, the build up begins in earnest. To start with, its all good, there is plenty of time and it feels exciting to have something to aim for again.

Then slowly, over the days and weeks ahead, an air of expectation can creep in. After a while this gives way to pressure. Are you riding as well as you should be with X days to go? How come your Strava times don’t seem as good? What is everyone else doing? Were you dropped on the weekend ride due to just training volume, or have you got a bigger problem? You have to get this right as its your big goal for the year!! Did you see how much its costing for fucks sake?

Suddenly, it starts to feel like hard work… Bad weather, life gets in the way, you’ve missed a few key sessions, had a few bike issues and days have been vaporising before your big date at the same rate as your big event hard on.

Then a few days out any one of the following interchangeable cunt moments pops out of a bowl of stress to put a cap in you: Bike melt down/the cold from a family member/Crash/last minute work fuckwittery/Hurricane Cuntbag rolls in and smashes event day… If you’re lucky you only get one of those, which leads me to the next phase…

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Just grabbing some coke for Luca

The big event

Yes, its the big day of your event or ride you’ve been building up for. Lets assume you have managed to deftly sidestep any lurking forms of cuntery as outlined above and arrived in good condition, spirits and injury free. Don’t worry though, your big day has all sorts of punishment waiting for you, especially as it knows its your ONE big goal of the year:

  • 2 punctures when you only had 1 tube
  • Your SRAM chain snapping
  • A crash just bad enough to make pedalling feel like slow torture
  • Missing the break of the day because you were eating
  • Pissing rain
  • Missing the break of the day because you forgot to eat
  • A snapped Enve rim or blown Reverb seatpost (they generally happen as a pair in my experience)
  • You forget to leave your hands on the drops as you sprint the last 50m to the line for what would have been a guaranteed stage victory (you know who you are)

The list goes on and on… But the theme is constant; there’s a lot of shit waiting for you, all queued up to take a golden shower on your big goal parade. And that’s not including the ‘eggs in one basket’ stress that seeps into your brain in the week leading up to the big day.

This peaks out the morning of the race/ride, sometimes making you stop to wonder what the actual fuck you’re doing. Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Why does it feel like this then? You’re not PRO (this may come as a shock to some, I’m vaguely mildly sorry for breaking this to you), so what does it matter? But due to human nature, fuck it matters, a LOT.

For roadies you’ve starved yourself for this event, or for Dirt merchants you’ve purchased all the latest ENDURO specific products you could get your hands on… Sacrifices have been made, you’ve told the world via Anti-Social Media that this is the BIG day! How will you update your feeds if anything less than a fairytale outcome is achieved?! People will see you failure on Strava (has to be uploaded no matter what), there is nowhere to hide – You HAVE to deliver… Fun.

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We get the race conditions we deserve

The aftermath

I’ll go Bidon half full here and say that you got through the BIG Goal day/event without drama and actually had a great time doing so! Imagine its actually even awesome… Fancy that. You get home, unpack the rancid gear bag, stare at the bike and put off cleaning it and then sit down on the couch to take a moment to reflect on what you’ve just done. The weeks or months of prep… The hard work… The focus… The number of gels reaming your stomach and now its all done.

And then it hits you… Its all over. Hmmm… That moment on the couch by yourself is the start of the dreaded Post Radness Depression. The bigger the goal, the worse the come down. You arrive at work on Monday in a fog and as you walk through the office with residual rain dripping off you, you’re forced to fight off the urge to slap ‘Tod’ and Co. as they ask “Hey buddy, how was your Bicycle ride thingy?“.

Worse than having to fight the very real urge to bitch slap colleagues, is the fact that suddenly you’re  struggling to get back on your bike. You sort of want to ride, but can’t be fucked in equal portions. You’ve become that piece of cheese where people can’t work out if gone stale or just on the verge of being ok for consumption. Aside from the general love of cycling, what’s the point in going out early on a Sunday morning?

As you finish your fourth craft beer of a Sunday afternoon and feel that pang of guilt fucking with you, the answer suddenly becomes clear! You need a new GOAL! And in that moment, the cycle begins all over again…

Wait… Its not all that bad… Promise

If you’ve made it this far, you’re thinking “What a cynical and negative cock!“, when I have to make small talk, yes, but in this situation all I’m trying to do is lay the spadework to steer you in the right direction for when you sit down with your cat calendar to plan out 2016:

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Life lesson #1 – Self rimming is awesome

So what I’m talking about then is spreading the risk…. And the love and instead taking a wider approach with the plans for 2016. Yes, I’m talking about:

The Framework of Radness

If we were cunts, we would describe the Frame of Radness as a “holistic and synergistic enterprise level planning process, taking into account the strategic road map and aligned to our fundamental drivers and core competencies.” If you’ve finished feeling queasy, its all about doing more rad shit with your mates.

So rather than picking one or two big goals next year, instead work out how you can maximise your cycling buzz in 2016 by planning out 5 or 6 awesome things, supported by a whole squad of back up dancers which are different enough to give you some variety, whilst lending themselves to the bigger events. In essence, there is always something to look forward to!

The Goal should therefore how to have the raddest year possible, instead of just ‘completing Event X in a time of Sub 4 hours‘. How to go about consuming this radness? Get out the blender and start to throw in any of these key ingredients for 2016:

Training camps – Ok, so not really training camps per se, but just a great excuse to go somewhere with your crew and ride like fuck for a long weekend. This is usually legit until you’re busted packing beer and Salt & Vinegar chups into the car, but just double down and say they’re for the ‘support staff’ and not for the ‘riders’. Spend the next 4 days riding each other into the ground and secretly call each other cunts when you’re dropped or shredded. Good times.

PRO events – Throwing one of these in is a win/win, not only do you get up, close and stalkerish with the PRO’s, but you also get to ride on either the same terrain or somewhere new. Doesn’t matter if its a World Cup round, major road race event (I would recommend Tour of Lombardy, riding around there is awesome) or a major national event. Throwing in a major race as a spectator and with riding attached is an excellent addition to your year of rad experiences.

Festivals – I don’t usually condone these things as they have serious pikey connotations and you have an extremely high chance of getting run over by someone who can’t control their Giant 29er… Assuming you can jump out of the way in the time you’ll then get collected by some cunt on a Fattie 27.5+ bike. But, if you pick the right one, they make a rather useful contribution to a year of radness. By the right one I mean the Queenstown Bike Festival, or Crankworx. Go for the ones that have the best locations, high chance of PRO mingling and the races that suit you… Ah yes, racing…

Racing – So, a big part of the year is usually revolving around this aspect. But, you have a choice here – You can pick events for results, or experiences. Try to mix and mingle these two, its an essential part of maximising the radness. There will no doubt be one or two events per annum that you really want to peak/freak out for, but try to mix it up a bit to invoke the stoke. Do a stage race, do a series, do a one day event that makes your ass want to leak, do a race purely because its in an epic location.

Road trips – This one smells eerily similar to the ‘Training camp’, but with a distinct difference… Wrangle the crew into the Landcruiser (Mountain Bikers) or the Skoda (Roadies) and head somewhere as far away as you can manage that you’ve all never ridden before. Just like a lap dance, variety is the spice of life allegedly, so head to a new zone and get about adding it to your list of places you’ve shredded/suffered.

Regular group rides – Definitely the best part/s of the week… Those regular sessions with your crew are not to be taken for granted! Whether its making you suffer like a gerbil on a BBQ, or showing you awesome new trails you didn’t realise were in your back yard, these rides form an integral part of a rad year. If you don’t have one established, then take the lead. If you do, then make sure you keep it rolling or even expand it.

Mix your stables – This is for the small group of us, who like an ethnic minority group in a country ending in ‘Stan’, camp out in the hills practicing both disciplines, hiding from the maniacal purists. You get the luxury of mixing up your year with doing both a bit of road shit, as well as plenty of MTB shredding. I’ve sort of failed in eating my own dog food here with only one road mission this year, the cross I have to bear being 95% ENDURO. But worth mixing it like an artisanal Mojito in 2016 if you can.

Putting aside that I’ve overanalysed this thanks to #Bracelyfe, 2016 is waiting for you now, so bust out the cat calendar and pen and get busy locking in your stoke for the new year and nailing up your framework of radness. Good cunts and experiences await you!

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2015 was massif… Balls are in your court or possibly mouth 2016… Good luck!

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