The Year In Review: Part 1 (The Rides)

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!

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21 thoughts on “The Year In Review: Part 1 (The Rides)

  1. Keep up the riding and the brilliant blogging. I read each and every one of your posts and thoroughly enjoy them. I am hoping you get some snow so that we can compare winter riding notes before the Spring thaw comes along.

    All the best for the New Year and ride safe!

    • Thanks, James, and I likewise enjoy reading Charlie Bucket Cycles. It is my fervent hope that we are never able to compare notes on cycling in snow. Alas, Washington averages about seven inches per year so the odds are in your favor.

  2. The losing weight thing is as simple as you suggest. Do exactly the same amount of exercise and eat fractionally less each day and you must lose weight. I can’t imagine, since it is so simple, why I don’t seem to lose any weight.

    When you are young, running is better because you can nip across a fence, burrow through a hedge, skip up mountains, swim across rivers and generally go places quickly where cyclists could never sensibly go. When you are old(er) cycling is incomparable.

    Congratulations on a rich year of cycling.

    • I have found the body has an amazing ability to confound dieters. When it realizes caloric intake is decreasing, it suddenly decides to become more efficient with the calories it does get. It’s not fair, really. As for skipping up mountains, it is clear you were far more nimble in your youth than I was!

  3. I noticed the person who came all the way to a foreign country (Virgina) to cycle with you didn’t get a mention in the top five. He, he. You can do the 4,000 miles but you’ll need to put in some early long miles, cycle both Sat. and Sun., and in the cold.

    • Rest assured the failure of our nocturnal ride to make the list has nothing whatsoever to do with yourself! Your pleasant company and status as First-Ever-Person-To-Visit-And-Ask-To-Ride vaults the event well into the Top Ten. The fact that it was pitch dark and we were thus constrained to 20-odd miles on a multi-use pathway bumped it down a notch. Next time, you’ll take me through the Quantico Roads during autumn and it will be glorious! 🙂

  4. Just looking at your top rides I have to think that 2011 was a great and varied year of riding. I look forward to reading of your expoloits in 2012.

    To enjoy cycling in the cold, I think you have to enjoy doing other activities in the cold as well. I think I’d go mad if I had to stay inside through the winter, whether I was cycling or not.

    • Indeed. I grew up in Rochester, NY, with 100+ inches of snow each winter, so I understand what you mean. Still, the fact I never learned to ice skate or ski should tell you my relationship with Old Man Winter has been strained from the very beginning.

  5. That’s awesome! I, too, started cycling in 2010 with a hybrid; then 2011 on a road bike. And cycling is better than running – it always astonishes me how far bikes can take us! keep it up in 2012.

    • Thanks, Cherry. Cycling defnitely has far more potential for adventure than running does, as well as far fewer lower leg injuries. Good luck to you in 2012 as well!

  6. A very good annual review, I have enjoyed every on of your rides on here. I was pleased to see our ride got a mention because it was one of my landmarks for the year too.. heres to next time, some time and a different route?
    So far as the weight loss is concerned having exhausted the diet route its maybe worth having a go at higher cadences where possible and thus keeping the heart rate down and in the fat burning zone as against the higher heart rates and muscle building zone as I believe muscle can weigh as much as fat?
    In the ‘Health’ section of Garmin Connect you can keep a graph of your weight so that even a miniscule downward slope can help you visialize the progress. Having said that, my graph is starting to look a little like Mont Ventoux the last couple of months instead of the Grand Canyon. However this is the ‘social season’ so its to be expected !
    Good luck in 2012 and may all your targets be achieved

    • I believe it is my turn to host you, Brian. I do not wish to impose upon you yet again. We can meet at a bicycle rental shop in DC where I shall fit you with a Trek Madone for the day – my treat. Looking forward to your visit! 🙂

      I have noticed that my weight drops as advertised when I concentrate on high cadence rides. It’s counterintuitive to me (working less hard actually causes you to lose more weight) but the results cannot be denied.

      Good luck to you in 2012 and may God have mercy on the misguided souls who try to drop you!

  7. Pingback: Cycling – 2011 Mileage, 2012 Targets « raven writes…

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