I'm already stomping on the pedals as the new year gets under way. No surprise there. But I thought it would be appropriate to take a few moments to reflect on 2021.
While several events come to mind over what took place during the past 12 months, there are two which dominate my attention whenever I cast a backward glance — the big crash in September and the total mileage achievement.
I have become unintentionally separated from my bicycle on a few occasions, but nothing like the Northwoods Gravel Grind mishap. One second I'm racing down a hill and then, quite suddenly, I totally lose control of the situation. Resulting in a huge body slam onto a hard-packed dirt surface — out in the middle of nowhere. I just remember seeing a lot of torn-up skin. My colleagues at the bike shop who graciously put my wounded steed back together kept commenting on finding blood everywhere on the bike.
Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to tangle with the Rangeley course this year. But stay upright the entire race.
The mileage milestone was a definite positive for 2021. Sometimes I wonder if it's such a big deal, but I guess riding 7,050 miles for the season is a long way. Driving round trip from New York City to Los Angeles is 5,578 miles, so I could have done that and still had 1,472 to go to reach my new personal best.
Most years, I have pedaled between 4,000 to 6,000 miles; my total for 2020 of 6,638 being my previous high mark. With 412 more miles in 2021, do I keep going higher — and, if so, am I setting myself up for failure? Does it really matter?
Other notable moments and thoughts from 2021 ...
— Unfortunately, close calls with vehicles occur every season. However, two incidents served as reminders that riding a bicycle can be dangerous to one's health. In finishing up a ride in April, a driver made a pretty good attempt to knock me off my bike (Real danger posting). It was the first time in all my years of cycling that I thought someone really wanted to hurt me. Then in December, there was the close-call episode where I found myself sharing the same lane as a minivan. Except the charging vehicle was coming right at me — and I nearly became a hood ornament (Too close for comfort posting).
— My primary gauge for fitness is testing myself with century (100-mile) rides. I did my first one when I was 49 years old. Twenty years later, now at age 69, I've completed 25 of the darn things, including two self-supported ones this last year: on April 10, in seven hours and six minutes, and on Dec. 5, in seven hours and 23 minutes. There was a time when I could accomplish a century in under six hours. What's happening to me?
— Another highlight was being interviewed in August by Ron Staschak for his radio program "On The Road, Again," out of Rockland, Maine (WRFR 93.3). For nearly an hour, we cycled through a ton of topics on bicycle riding and the joy it brings us (Radio 'star' posting). I, indeed, met a kindred spirit.
— There was one good result from my participation in the Northwoods Gravel Grind. As so often happens in cycling, the event gave me an opportunity to make a new friend. Although we weren't together very long during the race — the dude has a big "engine" — it was great getting to know Colin. The speedster from Mount Vernon and I have been in touch ever since.
— I will end on two rather disappointing footnotes to 2021. First, for a number of reasons, I didn't do much pedaling with other cyclists. And, secondly, I hardly touched my Trek Fuel EX 5 (mountain bike) and my Trek 920 (adventure/touring bike), which was to be my two-wheeled machine for my Maine-to-Michigan "Reunion Tour," which didn't take place. Hopefully, I'll do better in 2022 on both those counts. Stay safe!
'Thought for the day'
"Cycling in general, and racing in particular, has a way of ordering and fulfilling our lives. When we get into cycling, we inherit a point of view, a perception, an attitude toward life." — Owen Mulholland, cycling historian
From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)