Cycling blogs love to post End of Year articles, regaling their readership with tales of the past 12 months of cycling. I’m no different and in keeping with a long-established tradition going all the way back to 2010, I would like to recap the Cycling Year That Was. As with last year, I shall break this down into three exciting segments, dealing with the rides I went on, the pictures I took, and this blog. So grab a tasty beverage, sit back and reminisce with me over the past 12 months!
Continued Learning. When I think of 2011, my thoughts will turn to learning. In 2010, I was busily reintroducing myself to cycling. I learned that there was such a thing as a hybrid, then I bought one. Then I learned that hybrids have their limitations, so I bought a road bike. In 2011, I took the next logical steps. I learned how to cycle farther and completed my first century rides. I discovered that bikes behave like any other machine and therefore have a tendency to wear out and break. I learned a bit about fixing and maintaining my bikes. I fear I have much more to learn in this regard and I may never be completely educated in this field. I also learned how to cycle in inclement weather. Although I am no longer a “fair weather cyclist,” I have yet to fully embrace cold and rain. Especially cold.
Goals. I don’t have many chiseled-in-stone goals, but I did start the year with a few general notions. After buying two bikes and associated clothing and maintenance equipment, I was hoping to spend far less money. I am happy to report that I controlled myself, although the outlays continue with each new maintenance challenge or neat gizmo that catches my eye. I also wanted to ride some centuries, which I happily did and make a run at 4,000 miles, which I fell well short of. I could have done a tad better if I didn’t train for some end of year running events, but I have a new appreciation for how difficult it is to reach 4,000 miles, let alone distances well beyond that. Those who do it have my deepest respect. I was hoping to lose another 25 pounds, but the actual amount lost was about 10. I’ve come to the conclusion that I may actually need to pay attention to what I am eating – a disturbing notion that I will write on in greater detail in the future.
The Rides. I got on my bike 115 times this year and spent 208 hours in the saddle. I climbed 109,500 feet and burned 124,400 calories (that’s a lot of pizza!). I cycled overseas, in Tampa, on the beach, in DC and several points in between. Almost all of them were great (I have a hard time describing a ride with a flat tire as being “great”). Here are my five favorites:
1. Cycling In England With Brian. Cycling in a foreign country where I used to live 13 years ago, with the companionship of a blogger friend whom I had just met while riding on two excellent bicycles which he kindly lent me. It’s hard to top this combination, especially when one considers a pint of Scrumpy was thrown in the bargain!
2. Air Force Classic. This was a pleasant surprise. I thought riding in laps would be a bit boring but there was just enough of a racing feel to this event that it was quite enjoyable. The standard for a gold medal was right on the edge of my abilities, making it a great challenge for me. Perhaps criterium racing isn’t as dull as I previously believed…
3. Cap2Cap Century. My first century is definitely worthy of remembrance, along with the great course, fantastic pace lines, and very positive volunteers. Beer and barbeque at the finish line was a nice touch.
4. Fort Story. This is a bit of a cheat as I am including all three rides I did during my summer vacation at the beach. There’s plenty of history here, along with a gazillion beach cruiser bicycles and terrain that is tabletop flat. A great combination that was fun to ride and got me within 0.1 mph of the 20 mph barrier.
5. Vasaloppet. Pouring rain, blueberry soup, and an endurance event on my hybrid. I hung with several roadies for many miles, which was a great start to the year. I hope to ride this one again, but if I do it will be on my road bike. The hybrid is now retired to neighborhood pedals and family duty.
Things I Think I Think
With apologies to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, whom I have blatantly plagiarized, below are the “things I think I think” about cycling:
- I think 3,000 miles is about all a cyclist can expect to get while riding primarily on weekends. Additional miles will require more dedicated riding on weekdays, especially in the cold.
- I think I’ve reached the limits of weight loss based solely on exercise. While I will no doubt continue to gradually drop pounds (about 1 pound per month, on average), additional significant gains will require changes to my diet. Imagine that.
- I think heavy cyclists use up bikes faster than others. I have always been prepared for this, but I think I’m getting tired of it. Time to lose more weight.
- I think cycling is better than running. Sorry, runners.
- I think cycling in winter is still a chore, but I still prefer it to using a trainer.
- I think 2012 will have a tough time topping 2011 for cycling memories, but I’m going to give it a shot.
That about sums it up. Thank you for coming along for the ride. Tomorrow, I’ll provide my favorite photos of the year!