Reflections on the Year – 2019

I rode on New Years Day because everyone rides on New Years Day, no matter what. But it was nice enough to ride on January 2 so I rode. And it was then I thought why not ride every day? Ten miles minimum. Outside. The 10 miles would be in honor of my 10-year Cancerversary this year. It would give me a reason to ride – no matter what. And I would ride at least 100 miles per week as well. The final part of this was to ride 10,000 miles. That would be a big ask. I twice reached 8,000 miles (but never 7,000). I reasoned there were some things I could do more than just riding 10 miles every day. In my big mileage years, I would often ride around 265 days. For those 100 days that I didn’t ride, I would be adding 1,000 miles just by riding 10 miles per day. Maybe I could do this. And on December 21, I went over 10,000 for the year, finishing with 10,150.

HIGHLIGHTS

With 365 days of riding how does one narrow it down to 10 highlights? Let’s go by month.
W&OD Bridge, Reston, Va.
  • FEBRUARY – Just cold and more snow. Having ridden 480 miles in January my goal was to hit 1,000 miles by the end of February, I made it. But I couldn’t lose sight of the fact that 1,000 miles in two months put me on pace for just 6,000 for the year.
WMRR near Hancock, Md.
  • MARCH was better. My mileage was 723 miles. But even then, at 1700 miles in three months I was on pace for 6,800 miles. Doubt was beginning to creep in.
  • APRIL brought warmer weather and a trip to Florida. I drove and met the family at Club Med in Port St. Lucie. I got in 30-mile rides each day including one 50-mile day.
Pier Titusville Fla.
  • With Spring fully in place, I rode 1000 miles in MAY, the first of five months in which I hit the 1000 mile mark. It was also the first test of riding every day even while traveling. I flew to Austin on May 31 then drove to Killeen. I built the bike then went for a ride, finishing at dusk.
  • JUNE began with the Atlas Ride to support the Texas 4000. Then a trip to Europe. I returned sick and illness prevented a second straight 1,000-mile month (934) as I slogged through seven days doing just the minimum ten miles.
Texas 4000
  • JULY brought the MS-150 ride in State College and an 1100-mile month.
Woodland Ave Punxsutawney
  • AUGUST included a trip to Ohio and Indiana and a 1200-mile month
  • In SEPTEMBER I found a new cancer ride in Richmond and went back to the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo
  • OCTOBER was a California trip and more challenges to ride every day. After riding on Monday morning, I took the redeye home, and as soon as I landed and there was daylight, I took my second bike out and rode since the Domane was still in the shipping case.
  • NOVEMBER included a disappointing trip to Florida (weather). I had hoped to have 9,000 miles by the end of October leaving 1,000 miles for November and December. I was just short of 9,000 but knew I could finish strong.
  • DECEMBER was my lowest month but I was positioned where it didn’t have to be a big mileage month. Bad weather and illness slowed me but on December 21 I crossed the 10,000-mile threshold.
MECHANICALS I had a few, but too few to whine about.
  • In Virginia, the rear derailleur popped off the Domane on the W&OD. I walked a mile and Tom, from The Bike Lane, came and got me.
  • In Texas, the rear derailleur on my Domane quit working while I was on the 50-mile Atlas Ride. A wire had been pinched and shorted out (my fault on rebuild) but I was stuck in one gear for the ride.
  • In Pennsylvania, the rear derailleur cable broke on my Pilot while on the MS-150 ride. I was stuck in the hardest gear but only walked up two mountains.
  • In California, the front derailleur (Di2) of the Domane sheared off a piece and I had to ride both days of the Cookie Gran Fondo without shifting the front derailleur.
AND FLATS I had seven flats in 10,000 miles. My road kit includes a CO2 cartridge and I managed to use just one of those repairing seven flats
  • In January, in a very cold DC (and I didn’t want to mess with changing a flat), Alan Ruof gave me a ride to my car and I was able to repair the flat in my house.
  • In March in a cold rain, I flatted one mile from my house. I walked home and repaired the flat in my house.
Flat – March 21
  • In September I suffered two flats on the Abandoned Turnpike in Pa. I was eight miles from nowhere. I repaired one with the one CO2 I had. I rode the other flat back to the car.
  • In October, on the Pacific Coast Highway, I flatted. A woman had pulled over to wait for her family and I borrowed a floor pump from her to fix my flat.
  • In December, on the W&OD, I had completed a ride but noticed a flat when I got to my daughter’s house. I repaired it there. The next day on the W&OD I flatted one-mile from my car. I walked back to the car then changed the flat at home.
With seven flats I only had to change two on the road. The one on Pacific Coast Highway and the one on the Abandonded Turnpike. That’s not a bad track record. No whining.

THE AWARDS

HANGING WITH THE PROS I had chances to ride with current and retired pro cyclists. In Europe, I rode with Andy and Frank Schleck and Jens Voigt. Back in the States, I rode with Jeremiah Bishop, Ben King (almost), and Phil Gaimon. KEEPING UP WITH A TRACK STAR In Finland, I hooked up with a very young Astrid Snall, a track and triathlon champion.
Astrid
SPEED AWARD On August 14, riding near Ligonier, Pa., I went 52 mph (83 kph) down Darlington Road towards Rector.
Top Speed 2019
BEST SWAG Phil Gaimon’s Cookie Gran Fondo had a cookie mussette Ben King’s Home Roads RVA had a neck gaiter. Got an insulated water bottle from the Horrible Hundred. But the one thing I use almost daily – a reusable shopping back from the Climb to Conquer Cancer. A TRIP I FINALLY REMEMBER Having woken up in Ohio on May 16, 2018 with no memory of being there, I went back to Ohio and rode with Paul Sullenberger, the retired police officer who found me unconscious on the Great Miami River Trail. This time I remembered the ride.
Paul and Barry
BEST COUPLE I met Andrew and Stacey near the end of the Sea Gull Century. They were doing their first every Metric Century BEST GROUP RIDE Every day in Luxembourg with the Roosters. We rode in twos, close to the rider in front of us. No one was sketchy (ok, maybe one but not calling that person out here) and we felt safe at 15, 20, 30 mph. WORST GROUP RIDE On July 9 I met up with a group from Bull Run Cycles in Manassas. There were about 60 cyclists of varying abilities. My three attempts to have a conversation with anyone went nowhere. Having just returned from Europe and riding with Jens Voigt and the Brothers Schleck, I saw a rider with a Team CSC jersey. I tried to drop their names but he had never heard of them – even though that was the team they raced with before Leopard. There were riders crossing wheels, stopping without warning, and just riding erratically. I bailed before it was over and won’t jump in with that group again. BEST MEAL Cookie Gran Fondo. At Phil Gaimon’s Cookie Gran Fondo, some of the best chefs in L.A. brought in their creations. In addition to the chocolate chip cookies, you won’t find better food on a ride than this. Honorable Mention: The Alpine Loop Gran Fondo (Jeremiah Bishop)., Harrisonburg, Va. Ride Director, Erin Bishop does an outstanding job with a post-ride catered meal.
WORST MEAL While eating at an outdoor restaurant in Luxembourg City, Frank Schleck found a spider in his salad.
Shortly after this photo was taken, Frank was given a salad with a spider in it
OH FRANCE, I HARDLY KNEW YE Riding in France four times previously, it existed for me as the perfect place to ride. No road rage and even the dogs don’t bark at you. While on our Luxembourg-France ride in June, a car went by horn blazing. And a dog barked at us. France, I hardly knew ye. Now France is just a place (actually it’s not, it’s just not perfect anymore). WORST DIRECTIONS Arriving at the Hilton Airport in Frankfort, and needing a place to ride to “ride every day,” I asked three people at the front desk where to ride. I was told we were at an airport and one couldn’t ride. Yet I could see a bike path 10 floors below my room. I found the bike path. BIGGEST LOGISTICAL CHALLENGE – I Zurich. On Mon. June 24, I would leave at 10:00 a.m., scheduled to arrive Philadelphia at 2:30, depart at 6:00, arrive DCA at 7:30, then be home by 9:00 p.m. (dark), if lucky. But the Zurich Airport Hotel had some “rental” bikes which were free to guests. I departed the hotel at 6:05 a.m. with no clue where I was going but rode 10.4 miles. Philadelphia had bad weather, my flight was delayed three times and my bike stayed on the place in DC after they unloaded all the luggage. They had to get a special crew out to the plane to get my bike. But at least I got my ride done in Switzerland. BIGGEST LOGISTICAL CHALLENGE – II On June 6 I rode in the morning before my 4:30 flight to Iceland connecting to Helsinki. I arrived in Helsinki on June 7, rented a car and drove to Forssa. I was building the bike when Laura Vainio came home around 4:00 p.m. and we visited and went to dinner. It was almost 9:00 p.m. before I started on a 13-mile exploration of Forssa. BIGGEST LOGISTICAL CHALLENGE – III Returning from California, I rode the morning of Monday, October 28, along the beaches of Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. I took the redeye (departing at 10:00 p.m. PST). The flight was only four hours and it arrived IAD before 6:00 a.m. I waited at baggage for my Domane but had brought my Trek Pilot in the car. Once I got my bike from luggage, I grabbed a quick breakfast then jumped on my Pilot rode 20 miles on the W&OD. And I almost fell asleep on the drive home. WORST CRASH There was one, on snow. I was on treated streets until I came to Holleyside Dr. in Montclair. Wanting to do a loop instead of an out and back. I thought I would follow some fresh tire tracks in the snow. Downhill. They ended in a driveway. I went straight. I went down. Ouch.
Holleyside Drive yuck
DOLORES! At Phil Gaimon’s Cookie Gran Fondo I head a voice then recognized the actress as Susan Walters. She has many acting credits but I only know her a the girl Jerry Seinfeld is dating but he doesn’t remember her name and is too embarrassed to ask her. SHUT UP LEGS! I went to Luxembourg expecting to ride with Frank Schleck. But on the last night we were there who would show up but Jens Voigt. I got to ride with the Jensie! BEST ICE CREAM RIDE In Finland, 12-year-old, Olivia, and I went for a ride to downtown Forssa for ice cream.
We asked if they took credit cards (they said yes), we ordered, we ate, we went to pay and none of my credit cards would work. But we went to an ATM, got cash, went back and settled up. And the ice cream was delish!
MOST OVER OFFICIOUS PERSON In May, I was on my normal go-to route through Montclair which means going through the school parking lot at Henderson Elementary, dismounting and walking up 10 stairs to the upper drop-off area. This is to avoid the upper section and uphill portion of Waterway Drive which gets busy. It was about 8:45 a.m. and the drive up to the school was crowded with parents illegally parked in the fire lane, all on their cell phones. I went past them to the sidewalk and dismounted. The principal of the school, Suzanne Bevins, came over and confronted me. She asked me not to ride there “for your own safety.” I thought her concern was 500 elementary students and not one cyclist. It seemed clear that she was worried about an older male wearing Lycra being near the kids. I asked her if it was illegal for me to walk up those stairs and she conceded it was not. I thanked her for her concern for my safety, maybe a bit sarcastically, but assured her that avoiding those caffeinated drivers using Waterway Drive was much more dangerous than me walking through the school grounds. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe for one second she was concerned about my safety. I do believe I believe I was targeted because I am an older man on the grounds with elementary students. A man in Lycra. BEST OVERTIME When my rear derailleur quit working on the Atlas Ride near Austin, I scrambled late on Saturday to find an open bike shop for repair so I could ride on Sunday. I found Bicycle Shop on N. Palmer Ave. Sam Jaffe worked on the bike to diagnose it, find a part (didn’t have it but improvised), and stayed overtime to get the bike running again.
Sam Jaffe at Bicycle Shop in Austin
RIDING BAREBACK I did not find my hand pump for my treat to Europe so through when I hit the ground in Finland my plan was to find a bike shop and buy a CO2 cartridge. Forssa had a bike shop that was closed weekends and was mostly a hardware store. I visited friends twice to use their floor pumps. I rode through Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Holland, Franc,e Belgium, and Switzerland without an air source for my tires in case of emergency. I made it but do not recommend it. THE WAY YOU DO IT In California, I visited a bike shop to top off my tires. I then bought a CO2 cartridge from them. Although I had a flat while on the Cookie Gran Fondo, where I pulled over I found a woman with a floor pump in her car. I did not need to go to my C02. And when I tore down the bike at Enterprise Rent A Car in El Segundo, I gave my cartridge to the manager who was a cyclist. BEST BIKE PURCHASE On my way to Florida, I stopped at an REI in Jacksonville. I had a 25% off one item coupon and found the Wahoo Bike Computer I had been looking at. She read the fine print (I couldn’t read it) and said it was not good on items with GPS. Then she smiled and rang it up anyway. ROYAL ORDER OF THE IRON CROTCH My local cycling club, Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, has an award, which may be tongue in cheek, but it is called the Iron Crotch Award. This recognition goes to anyone who rides 5,000 miles in a year. And I qualified. Twice. To qualify, I had to submit a simple questionnaire.
  • TOTAL MILES: 10,150
  • LONGEST RIDE – Sea Gull Century — 104
  • Date on which 5,000 was achieved (1) – July 11 – Just a loop around home.
  • Date on which 5,000 was achieved (2) – July 15 – I thought I went over 5,000 on July 11 but there were a couple of rides that were counted twice. I had to recalibrate and actually went over 5,000 on a 34-mile ride I call the “Manassas Loop.”
  • Most miles in a Month — 1211 (August)
  • Most miles in a week — 334 – July 15- 21, included the MS-150 in Pennsylvania
  • Number of Zero mile weeks – None
  • Number of 100 mile days – One
  • Most interesting story – That’s sort of what this blog post is about