2014 In Review

Got in a nice 15-mile ride Monday afternoon with my biking friend Maggie. We figured the weather forecast for the next few days doesn’t look good, and we needed to ride while we had the chance.

The ride was nothing special, but it was very special at the same time. That’s because it was a ride. It doesn’t matter whether the ride is short or long, covers new ground or cruises familiar streets. Just being out on the bike is what matters.

And that’s where I find myself regarding cycling as 2014 ends. I’m not going to set any speed records, or even distance records anymore. I just want to get out there on a regular basis.

The possibility of biking boredom was thwarted this year, when I took up mountain biking. I did it just for a change of pace. And it worked out better than I could have imagined.

One thing mountain biking led to, that I’ve referred to in the past, is that my mileage is down quite a bit. It was only by cramming in a few extra road rides toward the end of the year that I passed the 3,000 mile mark for the year. I wrapped up with 3,023.3 miles, down about 300 miles from last year. But my exertion level was as high, or higher, than in previous years. I spent 240 hours in the saddle, both road and mountain, compared to 217 hours last year.

Mountain biking has revitalized my riding, because it takes more effort. Getting up hills is a whole different ballgame from hill climbing on a road bike. Bouncing over rocks and tree roots, powering through gravel and sand, works different muscles. I feel exhilarated after a tough ride on the mountain bike.

I think I’ll get some clipless pedals for it in the new year. Again, I’ll try to get out to new areas. I did some of that on the road bike, and several times on the mountain bike. Maybe I’ll renew my recurring effort to shed a few pounds, too.

Regardless, I’ll keep pedaling. I’m having too much fun at it to do anything else.

Happy New Year!

I had to get one last ride in during 2013, and finally got some free time today to go. I was out for a little over an hour, just 16 miles in the neighborhood. The temperature started falling, and I wasn’t as comfortable as I was when I started out.

When I got home, I added the day’s mileage to my spreadsheet, and discovered that I ended the year with 3,391 miles. That’s the lowest annual total since 2009.

So it’s time to do some reflecting on the past year, and where my biking has come. Perhaps, where it’s going.

One reason for the low mileage is that I haven’t been riding very far this year. As I look back over my stats, I see that my longest ride was a whopping 48 miles. When you ride only three days a week, as I generally do, the miles don’t mount up. I have always relied on longer weekend rides to keep my totals higher. For some reason, I’ve found it easy this year to ride 20 miles instead of 25, 15 instead of 20, and 25 instead of 30. Heck, in 2011, I was contemplating riding a metric a month. It worked for about three months, then stopped.

I know I’m something of a weather wimp. I don’t ride when it’s below 40 degrees (4C), but over the summer when I got home in the afternoon, I found it easy to skip rides when the temperature was past 100 (38C). I don’t ride in the rain, if I can at all help it. So, all that cuts into ride possibilities.

Then there are some health-related things. I wrote about my gout in September. Thought it had been handled, and I’m now on medicine to lower the uric acid levels in my blood. But I got another gout attack over the weekend. I rode, except for Monday. The attack has subsided, and I feel fine now. But I’m going to have to be more aggressive at combating this, because gout attacks are no fun.

One way to combat it is to lose weight. I was a bad boy during both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lived high. Gained weight. Not good.

So, looking ahead to the coming year, what are my resolutions? I don’t make resolutions. But I am going to set some goals. One is to peel off the pounds (I won’t say how much, but I have a specific course of action I’ll be taking). One is to ride more, and farther, than I have this year. I’ll target some specific rides, which I haven’t done this year, in the hopes that preparing for them will help me reach those two other goals.

I’m looking at 2013 as something of a setback. I won’t lose my drive, however. Like a football team that has a bad year, I’ll just rebuild in the coming one. I hope the new year sees you reach your goals, too.

October Washout

Well, here we are at the end of October, and I have this feeling that my biking efforts are falling short.

October ends in just a few days. I probably won’t get in another ride before the end of the month, so I’ll wind up with a total of 184 miles for the month.

Pitiful.

To be fair, there are reasons for my woeful performance this month. First, we’ve had a lot of rain. In fact, we had quite a thunderstorm in the early morning hours today, and I wound up canceling my participation in our club ride. In fact, the whole club ride was canceled, with several people getting in rides as the day wore on and the roads dried out. I went out about 2:30 this afternoon and did a 17-mile ride just on area streets.

The rain has been welcome. It’s eased our drought somewhat, although a PR type for the local water authority reminded everyone this week that a green lawn does not equate to an end to the drought. I’ll take as much rain as we can get, even if it does interfere with my cycling.

Then, there’s a tendency to ride fewer miles than usual. Last week, I was on my own instead of riding with the club, so I cobbled together a nice ride, but it was only 24 miles — well short of the 30 miles plus I expect to do on Sundays.

I notice, looking back at my riding log, that I have ridden 30 miles or more just once this month — and that was the first ride of the month. And that was for exactly 30 miles.

I also find myself riding only on weekends. I got in a Tuesday ride just once. Otherwise, it’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday — and one week, I didn’t even get in a Friday ride. Mileage is generally down — not just on my Sunday rides. Instead of rides in the 20-plus range, I’ve contented myself on a couple of occasions with rides of only 12 or 13 miles.

It’s easy to blame the weather. As I mentioned in my last post, our remodeling project has cut into riding time, too. But I think the main reason I’m riding less is that my body is telling me it wants a rest.

I’m not the greatest a pacing my rides. I typically don’t follow a fast workout with an easy neighborhood ride, or a long ride with a short one. The pace on most of my rides is roughly the same. That can wear down a fella.

So, I guess I’ll chalk October up as a rest month. Next weekend, I’ll try to build in some more miles to my schedule, depending upon how crowded my schedule is. Then we’ll see if it’s been the weather to blame — or myself.