The festive season has always been a time of purposeful and quiet reflection, a time to contemplate and take stock of the past twelve months and to consider what is important and what I need to achieve in the next twelve.
The unexpected and sudden death of my father last August brought about some deep soul searching. Standing at the Cycle 2007 trade show, surrounded by acres of shiny bike porn, it suddenly hit me as I loaded a fresh memory card into my camera that I'd never take another call from Dad tactfully asking for some floor (and wall space) in his own workshop.
Whisper it but I'm a believer in the notion of good coming from bad. My father was a Barnardo's child before being adopted by a loving family and it suddenly clicked as I ascended Leith hill in the wee small hours - a charity ride to the summit of Ventoux ... On a fixed! Not the most obvious choice of machine I'll grant you, but it will up the ante a bit and hopefully increase the sponsorship and funds raised for the charity (one to which my father consistently donated).
The desire to pit myself against the infamous mountain, infamously associated with the death of Tom Simpson in the 1967 Tour De France, has always been there and I'd be lying if I said my ego wasn't somehow responsible. That aside if I must follow these flights of self indulgence then a worthy cause should benefit.
To borrow a phrase from the larger-than-life '60s pro it's "something to aim at". But until I'm there grinding up the gradient, "talk is cheap" springs to mind.
So, will it be the vision of my wife waiting to greet me with open arms at the Simpson memorial that spurs me onward? Not according to our four year old who announced at dinner, "No Daddy! Mummy's in love with Wentworth Millar from Prison Break!"
Well, that's the easy bit. Time to get pragmatic, get the sponsorship sorted and some serious miles in. Now, do I whip a carbon fork on my beloved (and well braked) Ilpompino or shall I opt for something more minimalist?
Time to get the turbo strainer from my mother's house methinks.