A Look Back at 2012

My wife and I decided a ride today was a must. She wanted the exercise, since she hadn’t been out for several days. I wanted to get in one last ride this year, since the forecast for the 31st calls for rain, and the combination of chilly and wet doesn’t appeal to me. So off we went.

It was only 40 degrees (4C) when we left home. That’s about the coldest temperature I care to ride in. What’s that old line — “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes” — when it gets chilly around here, we don’t have much in the way of really warm cycling gear.

So we bundled up as best we could, and did some laps at the Veloway. It was nice to run into our friends, Rick and Penny, who were also cramming in one last ride. Rick figured 30 miles would bring him up to the same mileage he rode last year. After 15 miles today, I just wanted to go home and sit in front of the fire, but decided to do one more lap with the two of them, while Pat said she’d had enough, and headed for home alone.

I’m glad I got out today, even though I’m still cold as I write this. The ride gave me a chance to mull over the past year — what I accomplished, and where I came up short. On last year’s last post, I indicated some things I’d try to do this year, although I was careful not to consider them full-blown goals.

First, riding longer. I had mostly short rides in 2011, with just a few over 40 miles. I decided to correct that this year, and go for more long rides. One way to do that: train for centuries. I wanted to do at least two centuries this year. I did one, and concluded that rides of that length are no longer appealing to me.

Likewise, randonneuring. I thought about trying a brevet this year, but since I won’t be doing centuries, I certainly won’t be doing rides even longer than that.

I wanted to try out some new routes, since my riding had gotten predictable. I’m afraid it’s still predictable.

I also wanted to do more organized rides, simply because I like the atmosphere, and it’s one way to treat oneself to new routes. Didn’t happen. I did three organized rides this year.

Then there’s the weight thing. Luckily, I didn’t pledge to lose more weight this year, although I intended to see if I could maybe get it down a little (waffling enough?). I did finish this year at my lowest weight since I started riding. However, since I’m on of those guys who gains weight during winter, I’m still heavier than I am in mid-summer. Lots of room for improvement there.

One area where I did show marked improvement over previous years — total miles ridden. I finished the year with 4,519 miles — almost 500 more than my previous best. I probably won’t ride on the 31st, because of the afore-mentioned rain, so that’s my final total for the year. It’s also 2,000 miles more than my first full year of “serious” riding, back in 2008.

What does the coming year hold? I have no idea. If more miles come, they come — I won’t try to improve on this year. I’m going to try once again to ride more and different routes, just to add some spice to cycling. I’ll have to give some thought to organized rides — which ones to shoot for, what distances to ride. But I’m going to keep riding for the sheer enjoyment of it. See you on the road.

My Favorite Posts of 2012

I got a kick out of looking back at 2012 on this blog, and learning what you found to be the most interesting posts of the year. As I’ve noted in the past, sometimes what my readers find to be interesting, and what I find to be interesting are two different things.

So I’m going to build on the last post, by taking a little time to spotlight my favorite posts on Bike Noob in 2012. These aren’t ranked according to page views, as the ones in the last post were — instead, they’re just some writings that I thought characterized the kind of bike rider I am, and what my cycling interests are.

And yes, my account of the Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred was right up there among my favorites — but since it was one of your favorites, too, I won’t go into that again.

But one thing I learned from riding the Hotter ‘n Hell — I’m not one for the long distances. Just a couple days later, I threw cold water on my century accomplishment by writing, I’m Through With Centuries. Apparently, a lot of you share that sentiment.

But a lot of you think the long distances are worth shooting for. In that case, taking a cue from the randonneurs might be something to consider. So You’re Interested in Randonneuring? got a lot of traffic, and even though I’m not planning on riding any brevets, the information available on rando sites is applicable to most any kind of cycling.

Although I’m no randonneur, the occasional longer ride still appeals to me, and I decided to celebrate my birthday by Riding My Age. Being joined in the effort by a Bike Noob reader made the day that much more enjoyable.

The nerve I touched when writing about “Car Back” — noted in the last post — prompted me to follow up by trying to make sense out of that piece of legalese in most transportation codes: Riding as far to the right as “practicable.” As Far Right As Practicable stirred up some discussion about just how far right we should be. Always good to remind ourselves of the rule.

And then there was the inspirational. A team of disabled Spanish cyclists shooting for the Olympics were featured in a documentary called “The Unstoppables.” It’s easy for us to get caught up in building mileage, building speed, riding in bad weather, and all the challenges and difficulties associated with that. I put some clips from the doc in a post, and suggested the Next Time You’re Down About Biking, Watch This. Their efforts to fully fund the documentary continue.

As the year winds down, my biking appears to be doing the same. I thought I’d ride a lot during the Christmas break, but it’s been four days since I last got out. Maybe Friday…but I’m looking at the light drizzle we have now, and I want to make sure it’s all gone in the morning.

Most Popular Posts of 2012

Well, we’re approaching the end of 2012, and that leads to a lot of looking back at the big events of the year. For me, it was the birth of my first grandchild. During the four days we spent in Minnesota with him, I didn’t even miss biking.

But in the world of Bike Noob, we can look back, too. I thought it would be fun to check the analytics on the blog and figure out the most popular posts of the past year.

During the four and a half years I’ve been blogging, I’ve noticed that posts that are popular when first put up might fail to attract eyeballs as time goes by. Conversely, other posts might start slow and gradually get more views later on. That certainly seems to be the case here, with some posts whose popularity in the last 12 months has come as a surprise to me.

Here they are — the top 10 blog posts of 2012:

10. What Does “Car Back” Mean to You? Jan. 31. I’m bugged when cyclists don’t get into a single line when traffic is behind them.

9. Have You Ever Fitted Yourself? Feb. 26. Apparently, a lot of you have.

8. Four Years of Noobishness. Feb. 19. Includes links to five of the most popular posts of all time.

7. The Hotter ‘n Hell Hundred. Aug. 26. My cycling highlight of the year.

6. Stravalogisms. Jul. 26. The GPS-based ride mapper has spawned a lot of descriptions — some not so complimentary.

5. Testing Some More “Fitover” Sunglasses. April 12. A lot of you must be in the same boat as I am.

4. Moisture Wicking Base Layers. Jan. 24. Boy, you folks really must sweat a lot!

3. How Long Do Your Tires Last? May 31. I think 3,000 miles is good, but some of you beat that by a long shot.

2. How Much CO2? Feb. 9. 12 gram or 16 gram? And at what cost?

1. Steel vs. Aluminum. April 29. My impressions of 11 days of riding my friend David’s steel road bike.

Thanks, everyone, for making 2012 a great year for Bike Noob. I have more page views than ever before, and it’s gratifying to know that there’s still an audience for stuff I put up. Next, I’ll tell you what some of my favorite posts of the year were.