2017 could be a big big blog to cover in detail, so lets try this as a summarised index with lots of links!
The essence for 2017 was not about "what can I physically acheive starting as a beginner?" but "how well can I support others?"...
...OK, that's my first fib! The real challenge for this year is what can I acheive mentally and I chose to do that by supporting others directly. The reason why that is a challenge for me is that as an introvert / ISTP interacting directly with people is hard and very much more so above 2-3 people at a time plus further still, people I've not met before. I think most people I've worked with will know I tend to play along-side rather than directly within a group - Parallel Work as I call it.
I began the year by grabbing myself by the scruff of the neck and signing up for an England Athletics course for run leading. One reason I did that is because I believe in balance (or at least not being indebted) and I had received plenty of support from Farsley Flyers (being a free/voluntary run club) for over a year so I felt I had to give back - much like I started my support for National Deaf Children's Society.
Since passing the run lead course, I have lead runs for Farsley Flyers virtually every week through 2017 - often that's about 20 people but I think the largest group I had was on my 3rd lead and that was 40 people in my group! Also, the team at our nearest Parkrun (Bramley) arranged 10 week couch-to-5k courses in March then September which I jumped in to lead at every week. Finally, since many people kept saying they can't run on evenings or weekend usually because of looking after children, in October I started a school run group for the parents at my son's old school (primary) - the runs starting 08:45 after dropping the kids off in the morning.
In June, I spotted that National Clean Air Day was coming up, so I thought it was a perfect time to have a pop at bike-buddying. I advertised locally on Facebook for anyone who can ride but hasn't had the confidence to cycle to work and I would accompany them (in morning and evening) - this went briliiantly. During the day I also discovered West Leeds Walks so popped along and had a walk with them (I still keep popping along to their walks every so often).
So, on to the cycling side of the year - yes I seem to have reduced the leisure cycling and keep it largely for practical purposes (though I think the weather has had an inluence on that). However, I did arrange a significant cellar area for bike storage at work with the landlord, then personally cleared it out and fitted bike anchors as the inital 'cheap' option - this would allow another 10-15 bike commuters.
The next significant move was to take the British Cycling ride-leader course which has then lead on to being an abassador (i.e. lead each ride with local knowledge) for 3 routes on the Lets Ride guided ride program. Following from the experience of run leading, I found the cycle leading relatively comfortable with similar techniques (though you have a few more options for keeping a group together when running). I was also glad to find I now positively look forward to meeting and leading groups of people I've never met before.
So there's the group leading but I also tried my hand at individual support & encouragement for those who want to acheive a specific goal. The first was my friend Peter who I'd encourage to start cycling to work and 1 year on became a daily advocate and even sold his motorbike. He wanted to cycle 60 miles, so I persuaded him to sign up for a Manchester->Blackpool charity ride and we cycled together, which he completed with ease (and so asked for a longer ride!). Conveniently, I soon discovered Jason who I didn't know but he'd simply replied to one of my tweets saying how he'd like to do a ride I'd done...that was it, I offered all the encouragement I could and ended up fully organising the 75 miles ride from Leeds to Scarborough. I accompanied Jason but also took Peter to also fulfil his request too!
The final angle on cycling I tried was 'inspiration' or 'showing the possibliities'. My son's primary school was having their annual trip to the coast (75 miles away) so I decided to show the kids that you can get there and back by bike. Therefore I had a nice long 150 miles day riding to Filey beach, meeting the school children on the beach before cycling home again. I'm hoping that just by introducing the possiblities of 'normal' people it may reduced their barriers in the future - I know it's still mentioned at the school as people still ask (6 months on) "Are you the guy who cycled to Filey?!".
So on to my personal/non-leading events. How many people who dislikes running long distances put in for the London Marathon ballot? yeh, pretty much everyone who runs because there's little chance in getting through these days so you can claim to be disappointed...well yep, I got in first time trying! bugger.
Whilst I've done charity rides, I'd never done a sportive, so tackled the beautiful 110miles/12,000ft Etape du Dales - I was nervous leading up to it as I'd never climbed that far before, but on the day I thoroughly enjoyed it, including riding with an old friend.
The other challenge I ended up setting was the November run challenge - which I expanded out to be more inclusive for others to join me. During the challenge I upped my personal best for most running miles in a week to be 100 miles.
Two other great things I supported was a re-launch for the NHS Organ Donations and the Leeds Light Night. The first was to cycle on static bikes all through the night in town, the second was to pimp up our bikes and ourselves with lights and lead a Light Night bike parade!
The single thing that hogged most committed time though is the fab Farsley Festival. I'm part of the 9 strong volunteer team who plans and arranges the local festival for thousands of people. My main input is around applying for permissions/licenses, the tech and heavy lifting - though not at all averse to throwing quirky ideas in to the pot that makes Farsley Festival different from all the others I've been to.
To expand my future options, I have even started a Spanish course - who wouldn't want to run/ride in a hotter climate? I love the heat and always either take bikes on holiday or at least running shoes!
I'd say the odd-ball this year was when I was contacted by the local Farsley Farmers Maket to ask if I could help, as Santa wasn't sure he could make it - may have been out of the blue but that was fun! I guess it was fitting that I also designed the Farsley Flyers Christmas run where we hand out sweets to the kids around the village on our run - everyone enjoyed it and I think it went really well. Whilst on the Christmas theme, it goes without saying, I also thoroughly enjoyed the Sweat Pledge Advent Calendar :-)
After all that then (plus another lifestyle-change I've not yet written about anywhere), what has come out of the other end?
I've met up with lots of really fantastic people (obviously Kajsa being the top!) and every day meet more people who are trying their best to make life better for different communities. Personally, I have no nerves about looking after a group of people whom I've never met before even without any notice of having to. I'm still weak on chatty conversation unless its to acheive a solution for something. Confidence levels are through the roof and because of the lifestyle-change, I've had time to play and figure out what I want to try next (back to that ISTP trait). But that...is another blog.