The Self Sufficient Cyclist Book Review & 2020 Goals

The Self Sufficient Cyclist | Book Review & 2020 Cycling Goals

Not so long ago, I came across this book – Rapha Handbook 04 – Exploring Off Road – written by former cyclocross star Helen Wyman who I have been lucky enough to have met and ridden with. As it would happen, there were no review copies left of this book but the book I do have to review – Rapha Handbook 03 – Self Sufficient Cyclist – actually makes as much sense after my learnings from Red Bull Timelaps. I would go as far as to say, I took this as a sign; being a self sufficient cyclist sounds like a pretty good focus for 2020.

Rapha Handbook 03 – Self Sufficient Cyclist

Rapha Handbook 03 - Self Sufficient Cyclist

‘A collectible guide to riding without reliance on anything but yourself.”

This guide written by Guy Kesteven is one for newbie cyclists as well as seasoned pros. I think we all know how much there is to learn when it comes to riding and this book does a good job of covering pretty much everything you need to know, albeit not in the greatest detail.

I would say that 99% of the time I head out on a ride, I pretty much just hope for the best. My bike has tubeless tires and I think I remember the basic skills after taking a course earlier this year at London Bike Kitchen. Worse case scenario, there is Google, YouTube and hopefully whoever I am out riding with.

I doubt I will ever know everything about bikes, but it’s good to know I have a resource that I can just pick up and learn something new before I drift off to sleep. There are plenty of tips dotted around the book from national champions too, with interesting ways of doing things! I won’t give anymore away!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been having a think about what I want to achieve in 2020 on two wheels and have been jotting down ideas here, there and everywhere. So writing this post, is an opportunity to amalgamate all my thinking into a 12 month overview of what I have in mind. Let’s dive straight in…

2020 Cycling Goals

My Goal To Become A Better Cyclist

I talked about consistency in running not so long ago and in reality, it is applicable to any sport, fitness or type of movement. Over the past two years with my studies, this is something I have struggled to achieve. So 2020, is looking like the year where I get to roll the clock back to circa 2017 at the height of my bike fitness.

What 2020 Will Look Like:

  • Get a coach. I don’t have a date set for when I would want to start working with a coach but it needs to be in good time to make a difference for any events I take part in.
  • Complete Level 1 Coaching Award. This is something I would like to do mostly for my own personal learning. I think the course takes about 5 weeks in total and costs £320, so it’s not a top priority for me in 2020.
  • Lead one Breeze ride per month. Signing up as a Breeze leader requires you to lead 8 rides per year. This was super easy for me to do in 2019. I would love to have some more consistency to these rides in 2020 so one per month would be a good place to start.
  • Complete my indoor training setup. I tried a couple years ago to get my head around Zwift and the whole indoor training world. I’m ready to give it another go, to help me train consistently. I’m super keen to have a smart set up though; might as well aim for the best, right?!
  • Attempt a full Cyclocross racing season. I kinda thought i would have managed that this year but tbh, I lost my mojo / motivation / will to move somewhere around the time I handed in my dissertation. A little downtime has never hurt anyone, so I’m taking it easy and will ease myself back into a “routine” of some sorts eventually. I’ve got a challenge lined up below that will be a good start to 2020.
  • Survive my first triathlon training camp. I’m lucky enough to be heading back to Lanzarote in late February for the Ful On Tri training camp with Tri Living. It’ll be my first ever training camp so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m currently about to book my flights but just trying to figure out if I will be able to take my own bike over for the week (I need to sort a bike box, and the funds to pay the ~£150 fees for flying a bike). I’ve got a couple of months to build up a little fitness on the bike, potentially dunk my head in some water and remember how to run! haha!

2020 Cycling Events & Races

Over the two years of my MSc, I learnt that committing to races and events too far in advance was not a good idea. This was something I always thought about when I ran more too; everyone would buy race places for twelve months in advance not having a clue if they would make it to the start line.

So I figure the easiest way to think about what cycling events and races I want to do in 2020 is to have one big race / event and let everything else be a bit more spontaneous… which shouldn’t be a problem when I have a good base fitness.

2020 Goal Race: Red Bull Timelaps

2020 Goal Race: Red Bull Timelaps

If you happened to stumble across my endurance cycling kit list off the back of Timelaps 2019, then you will know I have my heart set on entering and racing the 2020 event. My main goal for this event is to put the learning from 2019 into action and see how far that gets my team.

My Liv Cycling UK Ambassador Role

I’ve been lucky enough to have had the support of Liv Cycling UK since the start of 2019 in my role as an ambassador for them. It’s been an interesting year as I learnt more about the brand, whilst trying to build more of a community around the Giant Loughton store which also opened in early 2019. All being well, I should have the support of Liv for another year to build on what we created in 2019.

The World of Cycling

The last thing I wanna chat about in this post is the whole “world” of cycling. If I’m honest, the majority of the time, it feels like one big clique that I am on the outside of. It swings between that and imposter syndrome, as if somehow I’m not “qualified” enough to ride my bike.

The majority of people never see the ‘behind the scenes’ or have a really clear handle on what or how much I do. The last two years have been cr-aaaazy, filled with ups, downs, failures and successes.

Matilda (who runs the awesome Fly Girl Collective) sent out a newsletter this week and when talking about challenges that people sign up to and never complete, she said

I also know, from the tone of the guilt-laden messages that drop into my inbox, people feel bad when they don’t finish them. But the way I see it, completing seven or 11 days of a 30 day fitness challenge is a million times better than no days at all. And when the next challenge comes round, you might just do 14 out of 30. Or 20 out of 30. Then maybe 30 out of 30. Point is, an attempt comes with its own successes – because if you can get into the habit of ‘doing what you can’, you’ll eventually become capable of doing so much more. 


Reading her message was just what I needed to hear at that time. Sometimes we set the bar high and that is not an issue. Our goals should be so big, hairy and audacious that we only succeed 50% of the time.

Talking of challenges, I’m all signed up for Ayesha’s Do Better Together Virtual Ride Series for 2020 which takes place for one week in January, February and March. You can take part in any month you want or all three but there are bikes (from Liv / Giant) to be won if you do the full 3 months.

Based on what I just wrote, I was conservative and signed up for 10 miles in January, 25 miles in February and 25 miles in March. These miles can be indoors or out but I’m hoping for outdoors (unless I have that sweet indoor set up ready to rock and roll!).

Signing up this ride series is not only great fun, it also supports one of Ayesha’s goal to have more representation in the world of cycling for ethnic minorities. Something which I firmly stand in support of. Let me know if you sign up; it’s a great community and a fab challenge.

Well, I think I have waffled on enough for now. As I mentioned, I’m still open to adding a few more events to my diary (plus saving space for the cyclocross races) so share what you have got planned on two wheel with me in the comments!

What are your 2020 cycling goals?!




  1. December 18, 2019 / 13:22

    Sounds like a great read and one I could use. Love your cycling goals! Good luck with cyclocross!

    • Elle
      December 18, 2019 / 15:51

      Thanks Sandra! Hope you have a fab 2020 too. And thanks for stopping by 🙂

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