Yes, it’s way past Thanksgiving, but guest poster Jeff Hemmel looked back on 2009 and found another round of gratitude is not amiss.
‘Tis the season for all those “look back on the year that was” articles, so what the heck, I might as well jump in with my own season highlights. After all, 2009 was a big year for me, the year I finally ditched my trusty hybrid and transitioned to what I had lusted after for years — a sleek new road bike. I’ve learned a lot in the last 365 days, some of which I’d just as soon forget, but other things that have made all the difference in the world.
So I guess it’s time to give thanks to…
CamelBak’s Podium Bottle — Yeah, I thought it was a gimmick when I saw the first ad. Then I bought one, and realized that no longer did my sticky Gatorade mix drip all over my clothes and bike, or spill in the car. Then I bought an insulated model, and realized another thing — the CamelBak’s plastic is really soft and easy to squeeze. That makes it the easiest of all my bottles when I need to take a quick drink and stay with the pack. Little details, sure, but they make a big difference.
Continental’s Grand Prix 4000 Tire — I got my road bike at Christmas last year. By spring, my tires were picking up garbage left and right. In one seven-day span, I got five — count ‘em — five flats. That’s when I found the well-reviewed Continental Grand Prix 4000s for ridiculously cheap prices on ProBikeKit.com. I don’t want to jinx myself by stating the obvious, but let’s just say flats have not been an issue since. That’s eight months of riding some pretty littered roads.
Lezyne’s Pressure Drive — It’s not getting much use anymore, but during my “flatting period,” this little mini pump got a serious workout. I bought it after a good review in Bicycling, and the editors were right on the money. This tiny pump can inflate up to some serious pressures, and won’t kill you in the process. Sure, CO2 might be simple, but I can always count on the Lezyne.
Twitter — Where else can you eavesdrop on the lives of your favorite professional cyclists? Thanks to Twitter I know what Christian VandeVelde was thinking during his accident-filled spring, checked out cool training photos from Levi Leipheimer, and got Lance Armstrong’s uncensored thoughts on Alberto Contador. Geeky, yes. Fun? Absolutely.
Pearl Izumi — I know it’s just personal preference, but every pair of shorts I get from Pearl Izumi just fits right and feels good. I’ve tried a few other brands, but they always seemed to have some weird bagginess somewhere, or a funky chamois. PI hasn’t let me down. Of course, it helps that I’ve never had to pay retail, but rather found deals on eBay or the Pearl Izumi Outlet store…
Oakley Radars — Attention blog police, I got these for free. That said, they’re still the best glasses I’ve ever ridden in. They’re super lightweight, the lenses are awesome and distortion-free, and they stay put, whether I’m sweating in the typical Florida heat and humidity, or like yesterday, wedging them over a chill-blocking headband. Yes, you can get a lot of glasses cheaper…but I’m not so sure you can get any better.
My Bike Computer — Yeah, it’s a love/hate relationship, but my computer keeps me challenged, and helps me track my progress. It was fun actually seeing those triple digits at the completion of my first century, it’s useful to know how many miles I’m putting on my body and bike, and yes, it’s occasionally annoying to know I’m perhaps not going to be able to keep the pace I hope. But still, I can’t imagine leaving the driveway without it.
My Road Bike — I was already a pretty dedicated rider, but my Trek 2.1 has just allowed me to take things to another level. I’ve explored far beyond my previous riding area, pedaled way more miles, done group rides I could never have joined in before, and just had so much more fun in the process. And with a road bike under me, I’m even completely comfortable venturing out in public in skintight Lycra.
My Wife And Kids — My wife gave me that bike, something I talked endlessly about, but never wanted to spend the money on myself. And she bought it with money she had stashed aside for something for herself. That’s the spirit of Christmas. She and my kids are also very supportive about me getting out and riding it, even coming to the recent MDA Challenge to cheer me — and everyone else — on. To them, hopefully I return the favor with a much happier and healthier Dad. I’ll be 47 soon, but I aced my most recent physical.
And Ray — The Bike Noob is his blog, not mine. But in a year that’s been more than challenging for a so-called “professional” journalist, the Bike Noob gave me the chance to write about something I love, and do it for pure enjoyment.
Thanks one…and all.