My annual Christmas Day ride and dinner. But different this year.

First of all – let me wish everyone reading this a Happy New Year. It's the 2nd of January as I write this and I must apologise for not posting in a while. I've been very busy preparing for the upcoming Paracycling Track World Championships, and this has seen me away at training camps for a lot of the past 2 months. And when back at home, my time has been split between the track, the gym, the roads, trying to maintain some form of a social life and various other commitments. It feels like it's all go, all the time these days!

I'll be leaving again in a few days for the next round of training, but before I go, wanted to post up a quick report from the Christmas break. A year ago I wrote about my annual Christmas tradition and how I usually spend the day on my bike followed by a solo roast chicken dinner. If you've read the post, you'll see that I'm not really a big fan of this time of year. So, when the big day came around again this year, I decided that I wanted to stick with my annual tradition – but was going to make some changes...

The past several years I have thrown my bike in the back of the car and driven out to a stretch of road about 30 miles away that they hold road races on regularly. I chose the spot because despite the cold and snow that normally prevails this time of year, this particular location is usually free of snow and ice and so safer to ride on. Plus it has a nice little climb in the middle of the route to keep it interesting. And by going back to the same spot each year, it gives me the chance to compare my form from year to year.

This year my regular riding partner and good friend Kevin decided that he was free of all family obligations and wanted to come along for the ride. However, due to work commitments, he was unable to travel the 30 miles to my usual ride location. Instead, in order to accommodate him, we stuck to our local loop. As the weather was unseasonably warm this year, riding locally posed no problems. Riding near to home saved me the drive back and forth and gave me someone else to ride with, so really a win-win situation!

We set out at a leisurely pace, enjoying the fact we were out in the fresh air instead of dealing with the usual traumas that Christmas Day can bring. This was to be a fun ride and not a hard-core training ride. It's about getting the work in, but not about battering ourselves.

We did 3 solid laps of our training loops, taking up 3 pleasant hours. The loop is a good mix of flat and hilly, with a couple of steep 5 minute climbs in the middle. Perfect training for the pursuit on the track!

Again – after the ride, my usual course of action would be to return home for my 'Christmas meal' – consisting of a roast chicken from Tesco, some potatoes and, of all things, asparagus. Random, I know. Well, this year I'm not actually single, so the solo meal wasn't on the menu. However, in order to maintain some semblance of my tradition – I had the same meal, but shared it with my girlfriend. She also isn't a huge fan of Christmas and doesn't go in for the traditional Christmas dinner, so was happy to partake in my meal with me.

So, what's the point of all this? I suppose it's this: tradition is great and doing things the same way year in and year out can serve a purpose. But to grow and improve, sometimes you have to make changes (sometimes just subtle ones) and try new things. Call it evolution. It applies in life and it applies in training. If you do the same things in your training all the time, you won't improve. You need new stimuli and new ideas to keep things fresh and interesting.

And so, as we embark into 2012 with all the promise it holds, especially for those of us going to the Paralympics – don't be afraid to try new things and embrace new ideas. If you've never SEEN Paralympic sport – give it a chance. Experience the courage and determination that these athletes posses and celebrate their achievements. And in all the YOU do in your life – I wish you every success.

Stay tuned – 2102 is going to be a big one!

(You can also view my full blog at http://637daystogo.blogspot.com/ or follow me on Twitter at @TTworldchamp)