Achieving your Milestone is, by definition, a long, drawn-out process. It takes places over a number of weeks and months and is subsequently more a collection of challenges within a challenge; a series of rides that add up over 52 weeks to culminate in something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The latest contribution to our RELATIVITY series celebrates that fact. Three times a year, teacher Damian de Lancy Green uses half term -- a week-long school holiday that UK schools partake in -- to cover 500km on the incredible roads he has access to in the New Forest.
Here, he recounts his experiences on his numerous 'Half Term Half Kilo's'.
Rewind to February 2015. My Rapha Festive 500 roundel pops through the letterbox on the eve of the February half-term and prompts me to reflect on how much I enjoyed systematically churning out 60 odd kilometres a day during Christmas 2014.
Why not replicate that over the half-term -- 9 days to ride 500km?
Every February, May and October half term since I have added 500km to my yearly total: usually getting up and out early to minimise any impact on family or work commitments; usually riding in the face of rubbish weather (with the exception of the May half term, every ride is almost guaranteed to be in adverse weather conditions, My bike never thanks me for that); usually riding whilst simultaneously yearning for a lie-in and some rest after a tough term of teaching and the daily cycle commute.
500km over a long week isn’t an exceptional distance. Especially when it's compared with rides from Lands End to John O'Groats or audaxes that take riders from London to Edinburgh and back to London in five days or less. Each individual ride isn’t particularly long (averaging around 60km), but it still feels like a significant challenge. That's especially true when my entirely arbitrary (but enormously important) 12,000km Milestone is taken into account. My year allows me very few rest days and little margin for error and I commute, heavily laden, five days a week as well as fitting in two longer rides each weekend.
All of that said, I find myself looking forward to each Half Term Half Kilo as they approach and often find myself, as Sean Kelly would say. "making the calculation" from early summer onwards as to what my weekly distance target needs to be, allowing for the October Half Term and Festive 500 as, collectively, these challenges account for an invaluable 2,000km of my Milestone alone.
Having just finished my tenth HTHK, it's become an automatic and non-negotiable institution and I couldn't imagine my riding year without it.