Reflections on the Year – 2020


Ah, 2020. No complaints. Just different. For the first time in years, I did not attend an in-person cycling event as the coronavirus forced the cancellation of the events I would normally have or hoped to attend.

My riding became much more localized and I certainly made the best of the opportunity. It was a year I set a personal record for mileage and for days ridden (thanks to being a Leap Year). I just rode locally instead of nationally or internationally. No complaints.


  • Two New Bikes
  • The Bear Whisperer
  • Virtual Podium
  • Strava, Strava, Strava
  • Solo Centuries
  • Pine Creek Trail
  • A Ride Every Day
  • KOMs and a Local Legend
  • Mount Mitchell
  • Weight Loss

Everybody likes a new bike, right? Well, except when you don’t want to get rid of the old. But my 2014 Trek Domane and my 2006 Trek Pilot both reached the end of their useful lives. I got some warranty help from Trek and now have a 2020 Domane and a 2021 Checkpoint (gravel bike).

2020 Domane

2021 Checkpoint ALS 5


I suppose if you are outside enough, particularly in the wilderness, you will see a bear. I saw my first near Frostburg, Maryland in 2010. I saw my second while climbing Mount Evans, Colorado in 2016. And then … September. First I was on Rectortown Road in Fauquier Co., Virginia on Sept. 2 when I saw a bear. And then on the 22nd, I was on the Pine Creek Trail near Jersey Shore, Pa. when I saw another one. September was a good month for bears.

There’s a bear in those woods

Ben King’s Ride Home Roads virtual event offered prizes for distance and climbing – categories I think I could have done well in, except this ran during the Tour de France. And I spent four hours per day watching the Tour instead of riding. But I did win a prize for the social media portion of his event.

A real polka-dot jersey for the 65-69 age group at the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo

Jeremiah Bishop‘s Alpine Loop Grand Fondo offered prizes for best times on Zwift – except I don’t do Zwift. They also had category winners and I won the jersey in the 65-69 year group. I had a number of PRs including a couple of KOMs this summer.

Bib 1 – Alpine Loop

Yes, Strava has been around for years. But this is the first year I subscribed to it to get local segments to display on my Wahoo bike computer and it changed the way I ride. A long solo ride at speed may have had me being complacent if not a bit bored but having segments pop up while I ride forced me to go hard in stretches where I otherwise wouldn’t have. It made me a better cyclist and made my rides more fun.


With no events planned I rode my own solo centuries. I did two in August and then in October went to Ocean City, Md. to ride the canceled Sea Gull Century. I rode it solo from Ocean City instead of Salisbury, Md. and I rode it backward, in part to see if other people had come to the beach to ride (they had), and in part, because riding a familiar route backward makes it new to you.
Assateague Island


Not all miles were road miles and in September I went to Jersey Shore, Pa., and rode the 64-mile Pine Creek Trail through the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.” Since I was riding solo I had to ride it out-and-back but the “back” was mostly on the road. Trails are nice but the road calls.

Pine Creek Trail near Jersey Shore, Pa.

It began last year on January 1. For my 10th Cancerversary year I set a goal of riding at least 10 miles, outside, every day. And it continued this year. In the cold (18°), heat (100°), rain, and snow – I rode. Now I have ridden 731 straight days. Don’t know when it will end but if I continue to September 26, 2021, it will be 1,000 consecutive days.

Not every ride had beautiful weather and beautiful views like this one at Shawnee State Park near Schellsburg, Pa., 8-17-2020

Strava has segments in which one can try to beat their own times (Personal Records) but also be “King of the Mountain” (KOM), i.e., the best ever. Since everyone is younger and faster than me I never expect to be the KOM for any segment. But it didn’t stop me from trying. And I ended up with four KOMs in 2020, none more satisfying than the two-mile segment on Minnieville Road from Spriggs Road to Rte 234. I was hoping for an age group best but did not know the KOM was in reach. I finished in 4:56 besting the second-place time by 27 seconds. Each time I ride that segment I wonder how in the heck did I do that in under five minutes? (Hint: With light traffic, I never used the bike path and stayed on Minnieville Road the entire time.)

Somewhat easier for me to obtain was the status of ‘Local Legend’ which is awarded to the cyclist who completes the most segments in a 90-day period. And so, quite predictably, I became a local legend on a number of segments because I ride every day and I stayed mostly at home.

Strava KOMs

In November I went to Marion, North Carolina, and rode up Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain in the eastern U.S. It was a cool day with few people around so from the parking lot I rode up the access trail to the summit to the applause of the few people there.

Mount Mitchell State Park

As I close out the year the scales said I weighed less than I did in high school. Yes, it was planned and yes, it was hard work. But I need to keep it going for a lifetime.

All in all, it was a good year. Sure, I didn’t get to go to events and missed seeing friends, especially in Austin, Texas, and in California. But with 1,000,000 reasons to give up, I did not. 2020, I will miss you.

But there were other moments that defined 2020.


BEST SMELL – Balsam firs at the top of Mount Mitchell. How aromatic. I felt sorry for people in their cars driving to the top with their windows closed tight.

BEST SMALL TOWN – Mayberry, of course. I went to Mount Airy, N.C. and rode to Mabry Mill near Meadows of Dan, Va. The ride was great but afterward rode through Mount Airy and it was a ride back in time. I even ate at Barney’s (Fife) Cafe like the locals. But I didn’t see Aunt Bee.

Barney’s in Mount Airy

WORST ENDING – White’s Ferry – WTF is that?!? When all else failed and I needed a go-to ride to bring a smile to my face, I would head to Leesburg and to White’s Ferry to cross the Potomac River on a ferry. On December 28 they announced they were closing for good as two entities, Rockland Farms and Whites Ferry, were having a food fight with a touch of Loudoun County thrown in for good measure. I don’t know what the future holds. Is it gone forever? I can’t imagine it so. Will Maryland (Montgomery Co.) and Virginia (Loudoun Co.) governments step in and create a public ferry? I do know that 600 commuters each day depend on the ferry. As does this cyclist.

Whites Ferry 11-14-2020

FUNNIEST COMMENT“You got skinny!” In September in the parking lot at The Bike Lane in Reston, Va., the owner, Todd Mader, who I have known for 20 years at first walked by me and said “Excuse me, sir.” Then he did a double take and said “Barry, I didn’t recognize you. You got skinny!”

BEST BURGER AND FRIES – In a year in which local riding was necessary, my go-to local ride was the “Manassas Loop” with a stop at Fosters Grille in Manassas. A nice outdoor eating area across from an active passenger train station, it was a perfect stop on my rides.

Fosters Grille Manassas

STUPIDEST DRIVER – On March 9, I turned the blind corner on the W&OD at Leesburg to go under Rte. 15 and almost was hit head-on by a car on the trail. “I was just following my GPS,” the driver said.

COOLEST GRANDKIDS I – We had a week with our granddaughters and during that time got our youngest up and riding on two wheels.

Up on Two Wheels

WORST IMPRESSION OF UNCLE SAM – Me. July 4. This photo and a subsequent bonk the next day led me to make a lifestyle change. It’s embarrassing to be here but is a reminder not to repeat the past.

July 4 – Uncle Sam would not be impressed

COOLEST GRANDKIDS II – I took our grandsons, ages 10 and 12, to the W&OD Trail and we rode 28 miles of the trail. Although it was over two days, there are not many 10-year-olds out riding 14-15 miles at a time.


WORST DECISION – After a double flat failure I decided to walk home barefooted (to save the cycling shoes) rather than to call for a ride. I tore up both feet after only 1.5 miles.

Wore my foot out

BEST GOOD SAMARITAN IScott Turner, in Montclair, who saw me walking while pushing my bike and asked if he could give me and my bike a ride home. I did not hesitate saying yes and he didn’t mind my bloody feet in his car.

WORST MECHANIC – Me. I rode a new bike (2020 Trek Domane) with deep rims and could never get the right size tube and stem. The valve stems, while working fine for a floor pump, are too short to allow a CO2 cartridge to fully inflate the tire. After five failures on the road, here’s hoping my 60 cc stems will work the next time. I probably should waste a CO2 and test one first.

70,000 MILES CANCER-FREE – And at the end of the year it was 74,378 miles which is just 326 miles short of being three times around the Earth at the equator (74,704 miles)

BEST ROAD RIDES NOT ON THE ROAD – While the Pine Creek Trail was a destination trip, it wasn’t the only rail trail that I rode. Of course, I ride the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) so frequently that I forget it is a rail trail. I also rode the Great Allegheny Passage between Meyersdale and Fort Hill, Pa. and in Pittsburgh; the Hoodlebug in Indiana Co., Pa. the Western Maryland Rail Trail in Hancock, Md.; and the American Tobacco Trail in Durham, N.C. I also rode the Path of the Flood Trail in Johnstown which is part rail-trail as it follows the Allegheny Portage Rail Road and goes through the first railroad tunnel built in the U.S.

American Tobacco Trail

WORST ENDING FOR A GOOD CAR – It was nearly the perfect car for my riding. It had a DIY rack and could transport two bikes in the back of my 2002 Toyota RAV4 and two more on top. But it also had 334,000 miles and when a barrel fell off a truck in front of me on US 220 in Williamsport, Pa. in September, the car was totaled. I was uninjured but I was a bit sad losing this car.

Toyota RAV4
Toyota RAV4 with DIY Bike Rack

BEST GOOD SAMARITAN II – A man named “CW” on Captiva Island, Fla. gave me a ride after a couple of flats (glass through the tire) to Sanibel Island to a bike rental store.

CW on the right

WORST WEATHER WIMP – Me. On Christmas Day I rode in Washington, D.C. to see the Christmas decorations. Only out for one hour and with temperatures about freezing (34°), my hands literally froze. I could not feel the touch screen on my phone to take a photo. I could not remove my key from my pocket. Not could I feel to unbuckle my helmet (and that’s what friends are for). My hands were like numb clubs but this may be a harbinger of things to come.

FALLS – I HAD A FEW – Well, two. I had gone more than 500 days without a crash/fall and then on a foggy day when I tried to cross a grass median on Rte 234 to get to the bike trail, I hit a sunken 2×4 that was in the high grass which caused me to me a have a heavy fall on the asphalt. Please don’t litter.

Less than three weeks later, I was again trying to cross a grass median, this one in Lake Ride, to avoid a couple ahead of me on the path. It looked safe but the grass concealed a hidden ditch. My wheel went into it and I went over the handlebars, ever so slowly. I almost sat down in the grass more than fell, but it was a fall. I laughed.

A MILEAGE RECORD – Having ridden 10,000 miles in 2019, I didn’t think I would repeat that. I didn’t. I bettered it.

Final Stats for 2020 – But this one includes a 3-mile walk. Waiting for a new graphic from Strava for 10,500.

BEST GOOD SAMARITAN III – On Sanibel Island at Fennimore’s Cycle Shop, they did not have the right size tube to sell me. Instead, they gave me one of their rental road bikes to ride across the causeway and retrieve my car so I could return for my bike.

Removing the platform pedals from the Fuji for me to ride

BEST ICE CREAM – Just as Fosters Grille gave me purpose to ride my Manassas Loop, so too did Moo-Thru give me purpose to ride in Remington, Va. Tim Casebere and I did a ride in Culpeper, Va. when I realized where Moo-Thru was. So I created a route from nearby Remington which would stop at Moo-Thru. In all, I probably stopped there six times or so.

Moo-Thru, Remington. Va.

WORST PAYMENT ON A TOLL ROAD – Having parked on the Fort Myers, Fla. side so I could ride across the causeway to Sanibel Island and also avoid a $6 toll, I accepted the offer of Fennimore’s to take their bike and retrieve my car. Actually, I should have gone to my car and retrieved the right tube and maybe a new tire, which I had with me in the car. Now I’m on the hook for $6 (plus fees).

BEST GOOD SAMARITAN IV – Me. On April 9 I saw a young woman pushing her bike. I offered to help her fix it but I couldn’t fix the dangerous wind she was riding in. So I gave Erin a ride back to her car. We became friends and would ride together a dozen times, often with my friend, Tim. In a year of complete repetition and some boredom, riding with someone new to the area gave me a renewed purpose to look at my routes through the eyes of a first-time rider.

BEST REPLACEMENT FOR A CAR – My new (used, but it’s new to me) 2020 Ford Transit. I didn’t find it, it found me. Can carry my bikes and my DIY rack from the RAV4 moved over with just a slight modification.

2020 Ford Transit Connect
DIY Bike Rack

With less adventure and no events, I made the best out of 2020. And it was my best year ever. Here’s to a better year in 2021.

Stats from RidewithGPS. Strava (for now), included the 2.5 mile walk home in my bare feet accounting for the 3-mile difference.

MILESTONES – The Strava training calendar said that I set 843 personal records. That will be hard to beat in any year.

WEIGHT (AT START): 212 lbs (Minimum. Complete guess. It could have been 10 pounds higher)

WEIGHT (AT END): 162 lbs

The Goodness of Man


This was farther south than I had planned, some two hours from my hotel in Sarasota. But you’re only here once, or here once to ride, so I came to check it out.

Parking at Port Sanibel Marina

I found a state park nearby where I could park but remembered the one on Amelia Island and there would be a fee. I didn’t want to pay to park and didn’t want to pay to drive across the causeway. And I found the Port Sanibel Marina one mile before the causeway. There was plenty of parking and it was free.

Parking at Port Sanibel Marina

I had read a discussion on whether it’s safe to ride across the causeway. Cyclists generally said yes – there is a bike lane next to the main traffic. People who ride bikes generally said no – there is a bike lane but it’s next to the main traffic. The bottom line depended on what level of risk one was willing to assume.

A view from the causeway

I went through, or around the toll both and started the climb up the first bridge of the causeway. That too caused some people angst in deciding whether to ride the causeway. “You know the bridge is a hill…”

Toll booth at Sanibel Island

It was a nice ride across two islands, named A and B, on the causeway. Although Sanibel proudly boasts 20 miles of bike paths away from traffic, once I reached the island I saw slow, helmet-less riders on the trails. And while pretty, the bike paths had a lot of twists and turns. I stayed on the main road and only angered one person – a driver from Indiana laid on his horn as he passed me. Then I caught him.

I had come to an intersection and found a cyclist waiting for his partner. He wore a helmet and a full kit. I asked him about riding on the roads and it said it was legal but then he recommended as I got close to Captiva to take a path because the road narrowed and “the drivers got older.”

Narrow path approaching Captiva

I followed his suggestion and found the path was very narrow, perhaps the most narrow path I had ever been on. I crossed a bridge to get on Captiva Island and didn’t realize it.

Bike path on Sanibel

Things were going well. My speed was up. The temperature was great. And then, the tell-tell sign of a squishy tire. Ugh.

Embedded glass in the tire

I pulled over not confident in my ability to repair the tire. I pulled the wheel off the bike and was looking at a man who had brought his trash out to a bin. He asked me if I needed anything and I told him a floor pump. He said he’d be right back and did come back with a pump.

It was a rough day

While working on the tire I had cut myself. Blood was coming pretty good. I had my repair kit on a small log. I picked it up without realizing it was covered by ants. I saw black spots on my hands and realized the ants attacked me. They were biting and may have been drawn to my blood.

CW on the right

Unfortunately, the pump did work as advertised. But the man, “CW,” also told me if it didn’t work to come to his house because he had a truck and would take me anywhere. I went to his house. I threw the bike in the back and I declined his offer to take me to his car, instead opting for the closest bike shop, Finnimore’s Bike and Beach Rentals.

Fennimore’s Rent-a-Bike

We pulled in and I was able to borrow a pump while CW and one of the employees, maybe the owner, enjoyed seeing each other. I pumped up the tire and he told me to take it for a spin to make sure it held. CW drove away. I went 20 meters and the tire was squishy.

Removing the platform pedals from the Fuji for me to ride

I removed the tire and tube and found embedded glass in the tire. Being a rental shop they didn’t have much in supplies but sold me a 700×35 (35-42) for my 32 tire. I installed it but the stem was too short to attach a pump. I was screwed.

My ride back to the car

The shop gave me one of their rentals to ride back to my bike. They had a heck of a time removing the platform pedals so I could put my pedals on the bike since I was wearing Speedplay cleats. But they got them off the bike and I moved my Speedplay pedals over to the Fuji.

The Sanibel causeway

It was a nice ride back across the causeway. I got back to my car and then drove through the toll booth that I tried to avoid.

Causeway leaving Sanibel approaching the toll both (no toll leaving)

It wasn’t the ride I was hoping for. But I found the goodness of man. CW giving me a ride to the shop. The shop ultimately giving me one of their rentals to ride back to my car. There are good people out there.


It wasn’t the best ride but I did set a new PR for mileage in a year (10,150+ miles / 16,335 kms)

The ride was paused in Captiva and the Wahoo turned off at the bike shop but still shows the airmiles back to the shop. But the data is correct.

DISTANCE: 25 miles
SPEED: Almost 18 mph

EPILOGUE – It’s hard to think straight under pressure. With a tube that could not be repaired (but did they have a patch kit to sell? I don’t know), we decided it was best to take their bike, ride it across the causeway to my car, then drive back.

I had everything I needed for a repair in my car. If I could do it over again, I would have ridden to my car, grabbed a new tube (and maybe a new tire as well), returned to Finnimore’s, and then change out the old and ride from there. Oh well, it was getting late in the day and I didn’t arrive in Clermont for the night until 7:00 p.m. so the car option was probably best. It’s just that I never thought of picking up a new tube/tire from my car.

Touring Sarasota


A late fall / early winter getaway to bring my mother to Florida gave me a chance to ride in the Tampa area. I chose Sarasota as it was close to my friend, John’s, place.


I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn – Bradenton-Sarasota Airport. I researched some routes and found a 50-mile loop ride of Sarasota. When John and I discussed routes he said he could meet me at the hotel for a 40-mile loop. I hoped to do the 50-mile ride but would go with the local knowledge.

Bike path to Sarasota

It was 70° when we were ready to roll out at 10:00 a.m. Sunny, I applied sunscreen and we were off through the campus of the University of South Florida. We took a bike path, briefly, then followed side streets to downtown Sarastoa.


We rolled slowly through the downtown area. John had a Christmas music playlist and a portable speaker and was playing (blasting?) Christmas music and was wishing people a Merry Christmas as we rode.

John in Sarasota

We crossed the high bridge over Sarasota Bay. John kept the pace high over the bridge. It wasn’t difficult but I didn’t feel like having a nice easy conversation either. I’m not suggesting he was trying to drop me but no worries, I matched his pace side by side to the top.

Bridge over Sarasota Bay

Once over the bridge we visited Lido Key before crossing another bridge to Longboat Key. We slipped into a couple private communities just to ride on quiet streets away from the busy traffic which was on this key.

View from the bridge

We crossed another bridge onto Anna Marie Island and Bradenton Beach. John proudly showed me the (Green Bay) Packers Bar. We stopped in briefly at his place. He grabbed me an energy bar from his fridge which was appreciated. With one bottle on the bike – I needed to ask for a refill and didn’t, I would need energy today.

Manatee in the foreground

We left the island via a causeway back across Sarasota Bay to Bradenton. We tried to avoid the main roads but a couple of times had to jump on US 41 which was very busy. The first mile was trash. Three lanes and no bike lane. After that dangerous mile, we came to the “bike” lane which is a small strip next to the main road’s three lanes separated by 5″ of white paint.

New house being built on the bay

But John and I made it safely back to the hotel. He had asked me the mileage earlier and I wasn’t displaying it. As we got close I looked and asked him if he wanted to know. He agreed and I told him it was a lot more than 40. At that time we were at 52 miles. We arrived back at 54 and change and John wanted to ride to get to 55.

The Sarasota Loop
Downtown Sarastoa

Once he left and headed back to downtown Sarasota. I wasn’t sure how far it was but it was farther than I thought. I turned around knowing I would have finished 100 km and ended with 103 km (64 miles).

Boats in the bay

Sun. Water. Friendship. It doesn’t get better.

DISTANCE: 64 miles
SPEED: 14.5 mph (we toured a lot on slow streets)

The Hoodlebug


It was cold. It was 32° (freezing – 0° C) as I rolled out. I trusted my phone app to find parking and a trailhead. It was an open area but there were a few trucks from the Indiana County Parks department working in the area. There was a sign: Property of Devine Destiny Ministries – Park at Your Own Risk.

Parking at the Hoodlebug Trail in Indiana

It was perhaps 50 yards on an access trail to reach the actual Hoodlebug Trail. The trail follows the rail line of the Indiana Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, an 1850s line that ran from Blairsville to Indiana. Single self-propelled cars ran on this line into the 1940s. Called Doodlebugs, or locally, Hoodlebugs, it became the nickname for this line.

The trail runs 12 miles from Indiana to Black Lick and connects with the Ghost Town Trail. Because of the cold, I planned to ride five miles out and back or 10 miles total.

One can see US 119 in the background

At the access trail I didn’t see a sign, not that there wasn’t any. There were men working on the trail on their truck may have blocked the view.

Crossing Yellow Creek

It was gray without a hint of sunshine. I had no idea which direction was anything. I headed right which turned out to be south towards Black Lick. The trail is parallel to US 119 so despite a wilderness feel at times, I was never far from the din of the highway.

Yellow Creek

I crossed the Stoney, Two Lick, and Yellow Creeks. In Homer City the trail ended briefly and followed a two-block work around (not a detour because this is permanent). I had gone a little more than five miles and decided a turnaround was in order. Ten miles would be good enough today.

In Indiana – Rose Street

When I got back to the access trail, at a little more than 10 miles, I decided to continue north to see where the trail would lead. IUP is where. The trail cuts through the Indiana University of Pennyslvania (IUP) on the street. Before reaching IUP the trail was paved with emergency call boxes every 100 yards or so.

Snow covered bridge

I am much more comfortable on a trail with no improvements than I am on an improved trail with emergency call boxes. Nothing says danger more than the need for these call boxes. I imagine this section is also used as a night walk on campus.

Trail at IUP – Maple Street

I followed the trail on street for a while but wasn’t sure how much farther it went. Nor did I need to find out. I turned around while on the IUP campus and headed back.


The trail is crushed gravel. It was a good riding surface. But there was nothing structural or natural as big attractions. It’s a nice trail and maybe the perfect length for some riders. I would not make this a destination trip but I was already in Indiana so this was the perfect ride on this day. Except for the cold.


Trail Link – Hoodlebug Trail

Hoodlebug Trail (Pa. DCNR)

Directions to Trail Heads

Indiana County Parks & Trails – Hoodlebug