2021: My Year of Failure

En route to St Ives

In January, I challenged myself to e-cycle 2021 miles and to raise £2021 in the process.  As 2021 disappears in the proverbial rearview mirror, I need to report that I missed my target by some 620 miles and by £818. It was all looking good in August. I had completed my 2nd long ride to-and-from St Ives in Cambridge; having also ridden to Swanage in June. I had covered over 1300 miles in 8 months, and knocking off 700 in the remaining 4 months was eminently do-able. Then it all went somewhat Pete Tong.

The Great Ouse

How can I account for my failure? In the end, it came down to poor planning, a measure of complacency, some unrealistic thinking and a lack of discipline. At the start of the the year, I had set out a spread sheet which was linear in nature – daily average required, so much per month etc etc. However, the presumptions behind this were flawed. Even given that the UK year is meteorologically unpredictable, I should have taken more account of the lack of attractiveness of cold winter cycling. I also needed to factor in the obvious truth that if I was doing something else I would not be cycling. Perhaps it was the months of lockdown – the very factor that had been the key motivator behind my challenge – that fostered a lack of discipline in me. When theatre and concert venues opened, they drew me again like a magnet. The boat, we had bought in October, which we were not allowed to use till April, called us strongly. When the sun shone it beckoned brightly for day-trips and other outdoor activities; and during August through October, when I really should have broken the back of my bike challenge, I was mostly to be found on The Great Ouse rather than on cycle paths. Even then, come November, when I could still think in terms of a manageable 150 miles per week for the remainder of the year, the weather and a wavering-will did for me. By the time mid-November was upon me, with a pre-Christmas family week and and the seasonal jollities in the offing, the cause was lost and I threw in the towel.

Thank you to all who supported me and my apologies for not meeting my own and your expectations. (See below for thank you email from Macmillan Cancer)

When, as is often my way in preparation for a blog-piece, I conducted an internet search for a consoling and uplifting idiomatic saying on my topic – in this case, ‘failure’ – I noticed that ‘failure’ is in almost every case partnered with opposite polarity to ‘success’:

  • Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart. Anonymous
  • You always pass failure on your way to success. Mickey Rooney
  • Successful people don’t fear failure but understand that it’s necessary to learn and grow from. Robert Kiyosaki
  • …. and so forth

In the list of 30 Quotes On Failure, I had hoped/expected to find an idiom that lauded ‘failure’ as a valuable outcome on its own, rather than as a stepping stone to the light of success – along the lines of it being better to have failed than not to have tried. Perhaps that old chestnut was not on the list because it was unattributable. However, this one was on the list:

which I think that is a strong thought.

The above notwithstanding, I would still like to regard my 2021 failure as a motivator for 2022 success. With this thought, I am raising the bar by a mile and resetting the distance gauge. On the money-raising side, I’m leaving the 2021 donations in the pot and looking to raise a further £819 to get to a target of £2022 by the end of next year. So, next years challenge is:

Cycle 2022 miles. Raise £2022 (with £1203 already raised).

If you haven’t sponsored me yet, or feel like topping up, please give it a thought! (Donations can be made here). Also if you fancy joining me for a ride, I’d really like that. Certainly repeating this, my favourite stretch of 2021 – The New Forest, the coast, a ferry ride, onto the Purbeck Peninsular and allow cycle paths – is high on my 2022 agenda:

Finally in this tailpiece to the Ericle year, I’d like – no, I need – to return to a theme I brought up in my last post and one that I have been chewing on since the beginning of the Pandemic. Indeed, back in March 2020, I had the feeling that the timing of the lockdown was such that it felt like entering a (very nice) retirement home and perhaps the winter of my life had begun. This musing was accompanied increasingly as to whether my more grimmer perspectives on the world were a function of old age, or whether the world had really changed as much as it appeared to me. Nothing is ever the same but I’ve always believed that one continuity exists in this world and in any life, regardless of the framing, which is the capacity of every individual to experience a universal spectrum that spans from despair to delight. Nevertheless, I do wonder in a pre-internet world what would have constituted the repository of my thoughts and feelings. I might be writing a diary or keeping a scrapbook of images or clippings, but it is extremely unlikely that I’d be sharing them with a wider audience. So why am I writing The Ericle? Am I victim of the Zeitgeist whereby so many folk feel that their opinions are so noteworthy that they should be expressed widely and held to be of significance? Additionally I do feel most strongly that the thoughts of the young, accompanied by their engagement, are much more important than those of a Grumpy Old Man. Et voila, my New Year’s Resolution for 2022: Less Words, More Miles!


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6 Responses to 2021: My Year of Failure

  1. Don Pesich says:

    You didn’t fail. You succeeded less.

  2. MARK NOONAN says:

    Eric, your goal, while unattained, was admirable. And had you not set it originally, I am guessing you might not have achieved the miles that you did. It is so easy for us to excuse ourselves from working towards a goal just because we are getting older. Your goal got you moving, and that movement meant that all the other things you did in 2021 were performed better because you kept moving. Younger people may not appreciate that as much as those of us who are in your same age category!

    You might however, want to consider some steps along the way, as mileposts in your journey. This last year, I decided that I wanted to get back into the running scene, and complete a 1/2 marathon. When we were younger (even just 10 years ago), that was something that I could knock off with minimal focus. But after a few years of not doing it, the challenge seemed ominous. And, run a half? Hardly, my knees would scream at me. Walk a half? Too slow. Ok, so a modified walk/jog might do it. It started by getting out there and doing something every day. Get to where I would go 5 miles, then move to 8 miles, then 10. Before the race, ah, 12 miles. 13.1 seemed achievable.
    October came the test. Join all those younger than me (most of them anyway), 12,000 of them, and try not to be last. Didn’t matter what else, just finish, and not last. Mission accomplished! And along the way towards this, another milestone started to appear. As I finish this year, like you, I will fall a bit short of 2,000 miles walk/running.
    My 1,800 miles (and several pairs of shoes) is far longer than had I set that as a goal in the beginning. Rather than looking at that number as a failure, I am seeing it as a possibility for next year. For the new year, two 1/2 marathons are scheduled, that might just get me there.
    What might you set as milestones? A particular event or location mid year, and one towards year end to achieve? A winter distance ride? Train for those, and perhaps the journey will be your success, rather than a perceived failure. And remember, of all those who are at our age group, how many even came close to what you did in 2021? The vast majority never got on the seat in the first place, much less went more than just a few miles. That, my friend, is an accomplishment you should be proud of.

  3. Stingray says:

    You lived life spontaneously and did not become a slave to spurious goals. The most important goal is to relish the incredible miracle of life! We’ll done for failing!

  4. Ericle says:

    [From: Stephen]

    The boy still did pretty well and don’t forget it !

  5. Ericle says:

    [From: Lee]

    You are duly forgiven and still achieved a very creditable distance that I did not match on my Peloton bike !

  6. Ericle says:

    [From: David]

    You are forgiven! I hope your tour of Purbeck will include a stay at Peverel.

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