Another year of riding. Another year of life. Plenty of great and memorable experiences but maybe most importantly, no crashes. In no particular order, I present my
MY TOP TEN CYCLING MOMENTS/MEMORIES
(In no particular order)
- The Citrus Tour (MS-150)
- Knotts Island Ferry Loop
- Olivia’s Ride
- Maryland Cycling Classic
- Rooster Racing
- Intracoastal Waterway Century
- Alpine Loop Gran Fondo
- Working on the Chain Gang
- Hurricane Mountain Road
- Tour de Suisse
10. THE CITRUS TOUR. The MS-150 in Championsgate, Florida started well. I rode solo but found some groups as well. Cramps got me very bad starting around Mile 60 and almost knocked me off my bike around Mile 95. I limped to the finish and made a six-hour century but hurt so bad I rode 25 on Sunday instead of 50.
9. KNOTTS ISLAND FERRY LOOP. It was a route that I drew with RideWithGPS and then rode it. I found gravel (oops) and wasn’t sure about parking at the ferry but had a glorious 50-mile ride from North Carolina into southeast Virginia then back to Knotts Island and a 40-minute ferry ride across the Currituck Bay.
8. OLIVIA’S RIDE. Formerly Ride Home Roads, this event, now known as Olivia’s Ride, was also Ben King’s retirement ride. Very nice metric century ride.
7. MARYLAND CYCLING CLASSIC. The second year of this race and my second time attending it. Unlike last year I did not volunteer but was able to ride before the race and to just be a fan.
6. INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY CENTURY. Went to Melbourne, Fla. and discovered this gem out of Cocoa Village. I fell in with a group like the Old Cranks (Warrenton, Va.) but they were all from the Space Coast Freewheelers, the group sponsoring the ride. I felt really good to the point that I thought about riding off on my own and dropping the guys I was with but we had already formed a cohesive group at that point and I would have been a jerk.
5. ALPINE LOOP GRAN FONDO. This cancer-raising event has become my go-to century of the year. Tired from a late night in Pittsburgh the day before my body wasn’t primed for a long ride. Instead I rode the Metric Century (65 miles) and probably became the first rider in history to have ridden all five of their routes.
4. CHAIN GANG. I went to Maryland’s Eastern Shore with a group from Prince William Cycling Club. With limited or moderate traffic but wide shoulders where one needn’t ride on the roadway, the place and time was perfect to teach my group of eight how to ride in a chain gang (double rotating pace line). It was fun and efficient. And fun.
3. ROOSTERS IN LUXEMBOURG. I joined old friends and met new ones riding with Rooster Racing in Luxembourg. And with Fränk Schleck.
2. HURRICANE MOUNTAIN ROAD. I drove to Mount Washington for the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclim but bad weather forced the cancellation of the race on Saturday and again on the rain date on Sunday. But I was able to ride up Hurricane Mountain Road (a very difficult climb) and that, in itself, was very satisfying.
1. TOUR DE SUISSE. It was to be a very fun day watching Stage 5 of the Tour de Suisse, and it was, but it turned out to be bittersweet. It was the last race for and one of the last photos taken of Gino Mäder who would die from injuries in a crash about one hour later.
What wasn’t included: The Blueridger loop in Marshall; the Abandonded Tunnel in Breezewood; my annual ride from Somerset to Punxsutawney with a stop in Northern Cambria (permanently finished); a ride to Gettysburg.
And for the rest I present these tibits:
Not even close. British Airways lost my bike at London Heathrow even while the entire time I was tracking it using an Apple AirTag. They ignored my calls and tweets for five days and blew my cycling trip to Switzlerland. CNN writer, Julia Buckley, contacted me to assist but was one day late. She still followed up with an article which I hoped would embarrass British Airlines into some small compensation. It did not. Passenger uses AirTag to track the bike his airline lost
Not even close. Finnair. Not only did British Airways lose my bike (later delivered) but they canceled my return leg from Helsinki – first from Helsinki to Copenhagen and then from Copenhagen to Washington-Dulles. They did nothing to reschedule me but I did get booked on Finnair from Helsinki to London. Great lounge in Helsinki and a great flight.
BEST RIDE IN SWITZERLAND
One week of not riding and on the day I was leaving, Ben offered me his bike to “go ride some hills.”
NOBODY RIDES ALONE
On a group ride with PWCC, I dropped back with the second group because it’s all work up front and a party in the back. As we split into groups I noticed a rider in between the groups. I asked Renee who that was and she told me she was a new rider and no one knew her. So I rode up to the new rider and said “Nobody rides alone.” So glad I did. Found out Jill is a Penguins and Steelers fan from Pa.
BEST BURGER JOINT
Fosters Grille, Manassas, Va. Like Cheers, where everybody knows your name. On November 30 when I hosted a Movember ride, we all stopped for lunch and my friends were all amazed that everybody knew my name. Literally.
NOBODY RIDES ALONE – II
Our last group ride of the season in Manassas. There were six of us on a chilly night. Once we hit the slight uphill of Godwin we discovered a natural break in the group. It could have been three and three or maybe four and two as four of us rode ahead to Wawa to wait and regroup. I knew that John had dropped back and I told our three to ride ahead as I would wait for John and Steve. Steve, as every man would, told the group to go one without him as he didn’t want to hold anyone up. I told him that nobody rides alone. I expected that the three of us would stay together and three would go on ahead as it was getting dark. I was astonished that all six of us stayed together and rode at the speed of Steve.
BEST ICE CREAM
Moo-Thru, Remington, Virginia. Ideally placed next to a park where one can finish a ride and have a scoop.
Runners up: Scottish Highlands Creamery, Oxford, Md.; South Mountain Creamery, Middletown, Md.
NOT A NEW YEARS HANGOVER
I didn’t ride on New Years Day. It was the first New Years Day I didn’t ride since 2018. But it wasn’t a hangover. It was Covid. I missed the last three days in 2022 and the first three days in 2023. Six consecutive days over two years without a ride was the most that I missed since 2018 when I missed 53 straight for knee replacement.
My standard is a minimum of 10 miles to be a “ride.” Traveling with my 91-year-old mother to Florida, I found the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. I wanted to tell her to drive my car 10 miles then pull over and I will find her but I knew she would freak out at my suggestion. So I found a pull-off, told her I’d be right back in 5-6 minutes, and then rode over and back across the viaduct. Total miles: 1.2 (2 km)
That would be my private version of the Sea Gull Century. Total miles: 102.9 (165.6 km). Varied slightly from the official route because I started and ended at the Hampton Inn Hotel, Fruitland.
WORST AT SKIPPING SCHOOL
When the date was announced, Sept. 23, I knew I would have a conflict. I had a class reunion at New Brighton H.S. and a cancer charity event. I could not do both but didn’t want to miss either. My compromise was to attend the informal event the night before the reunion in New Brighton then to drive to Harrisonburg. Va. for the Gran Fondo. By splitting my time I gave both events a half effort. I regretted missing my actual reunion. I could have sent the Gran Fondo a benefit check and told them see you next year. I skipped school but immediately regretted it like I did when I was a kid (which may or may not have happened).
I met some friends at their home in Turku, Finland, and we rode 8.6 miles (13.8 km) to the center of Turku and back. We rode with their seven-year-old daughter, Sara, who was amazing. We didn’t go fast but this was one of my best rides of the year – Traveling at the speed of Sara. — 7.6 mph (12.2 kph)
I found the flat streets in Corolla, North Carolina, to my liking, combined with few stops signs. When I couldn’t go on long rides on vacation because we had family with us, short faster rides were best for me. On Wednesday I rode 11 miles (17.7 km) at 20.2 mph (32.5 kph). And on our last evening before everyone left I went out at 6:30 p.m. and rode 21.7 mph (35 kph) over 4.1 miles (6.6 km). That was my fastest ever speed measured over distance. Solo. And not involving a descent. I’ve gone faster over longer distances but always involving some mountain descending. This was all human-powered.
WORST USE OF A HOUSE
House in the Alps, Switzerland. No heating but it had a fireplace – that I couldn’t figure out how to open the door on it. I froze and was hungry. I had brought Pop Tarts as gifts for my friends in Finland but ended up eating them to survive. I came here to ride my bike but had no bike to ride. The views were stunning but no bike. I spent one night then moved on to Lake Lucerne which was very comforting and what I needed.
For many riders a major achievement is a Metric Century. The Century is 100 of something and in metric terms that is 100 kilometers or 62.14 miles. This year I had 27 rides of a metric century distance including at least one in every month of the year.
And forget the metric century and go “full.” I rode three centuries this year. Two were registered events, the MS-150 in Florida and the Intracoastal Waterway, and the third, the Sea Gull Century, I was registered but I rode one day early to beat the weather.
NOT 50 NIFTY STATES – ONLY 10
Only 10 states and one district. Here’s the short list: Virginia. Maryland. West Virginia. Pennsylvania. Florida. Delaware. North Carolina. New Hampshire. Massachusetts, Maine. District of Columbia.
In addition to the U.S.A. I rode in six other countries this year. I in Switzerland, not on my bike but one lent to me by Ben. And the rest in order, Luxembourg, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Finland.
BEST IMITATION OF A CENTURY RIDE
With an all-day forecast of rain for the Sea Gull Century on Saturday, perfect sunny weather on Friday, plus cheaper weekday rates, I decided to go to Salisbury one day early and I rode the Sea Gull Century by myself. I was also able to find the horses on Assateague Island. Often they are moved to the southern end to avoid the crowds of this event.
THE BAD 1% CLUB
This is not a good thing. My Whoop band measures recovery but on June 17 it measured my recovery at one percent. I assume that it doesn’t go to zero. This was an accumulation of sleep deprivation and stress. I flew to Zurich but my bike stayed in London. I was checking on it and tweeting every few hours. I wasn’t sleeping well. The day before I took a train to Frankfurt then met some of the Roosters Racing team. My bike was supposedly in transit to Luxembourg. But stress effects recovery and it caught up to me here.
THE GOOD 1% CLUB
Strava says that out of more than 95,000,000, I was in the Top One Percent of all users for activity, measured in hours. Maybe I’m slow, that’s all.
Missing for one week in Europe, my bike and I met up again in Luxembourg.
It’s my second year of wearing my Whoop Band and I am still learning. Amount and quality of sleep effects recovery. But so does mental stress. When my bike was missing while I was in Switzerland I never had a recovery that was normal. Once the bike was returned to me my recovery improved.
WORST GROUP RIDE
Showed up for a Thursday night ride and the group leader had no clue who I was but still determined there would be a fast group and a slow group then pointed to me to say that I would be in the slow group. Very rude. I rode on the front or second wheel for much of the ride until I came to my bail out point. Then I rode back to him and put my hand on his shoulder. When I got his attention (a trick I learned from Frank), I told him that I did not appreciate that at all. He stammered and tried to say mistaken identity but it was rude no matter what. I never went back.
BEST INTRUSIVE SELFIE
At Olivia’s Ride on June 9 in Ashland, Va., I saw USA Cycling Women’s Road Champion (2022), Emma Langley, riding away. Although I was wearing flip flops, I jumped on my road bike and caught her and, with permission, took a selfie.
LOSING ONE’S ASS (SAVER)
On Christmas Eve I went for a ride with Tim. The roads were wet when I started so I put the Ass Saver on my bike. I did not lock it into place as it was being difficult. When we got to Manassas, I noticed it missing. Rather than finish a loop Tim suggested we double back and try to find it. We did. We didn’t. I miss you. 🙁
MOST CONSECUTIVE DAYS WITHOUT A RIDE
Four days from June 12-15 when British Airways lost my bike at Heathrow Airport. Have I mentioned this before? Spanning 2022 and 2023 it was six days without a ride from December 29, 2022 – January 3, 2023 when I was sick. During those four days in Switzerland I had to see views like this:
MOST CONSECUTIVE DAYS WITH A RIDE
Eighty days from July 5 through September 22. September 23 was a chilly rainy day in Harrisonburg, Va. and our ride with Jeremiah Bishop was canceled. If I had a longer streak going I would have ridden in the rain and got soaked but my bike and body thanked me for taking a day off. I doubt that I ever ride 1,103 days again like I did from 2019-2021.
MOST EMBARASSING MOMENT
First day of riding with the Roosters in Luxembourg, I went on a 20-mile ride before our 48-mile group ride. I was also one week off the bike because, British Airways. Our last climb before lunch at a vineyard, I started cramping. I had to back off the pace and let the group gap me. Fränk Schleck saw me, doubled back and then rode beside me with his hand on my saddle pushing me up the climb.
FIREFIGHTER OF THE YEAR
I smelled smoke at first thinking a truck must have really laid down some rubber. As I turned the corner next to Colgan High School I could see lots of black smoke about 200 meters ahead. And then I could see the fire. I was right next to the Coles Fire Department so I dismounted and rang the doorbell. When a firefighter came to the door I told him “There’s a truck on fire at Hoadly and 234 – you all may want to come out and play.” One firefighter jogged out to the street, looked, and then ran back inside. Within 60 seconds four doors on the building were opened and at least three trucks went to put out the fire. You’re welcome. Surely a 911 call had been made before I went to the fire station. Why such a lag in response?
HOW BAD IS TOO BAD?
Weather for Mount Washington for the MWARBH on August 19. Sixty one mph winds, 39.9℉ (4.4℃), with a wind chill of 26℉ (-3.3℃) and more than one inch of rain. In addition to the bad weather, four people had to be rescued off the mountain the day before and emergency services were thin. It was the right call.
Is there really a best gravel? But I enjoyed this winter club ride in Fauquier County, Va. Except for the gravel.
BEST GRAVEL II
On August 30 I rode 30 miles on the C&O Canal Towpath to meet my sister and brother-in-law. Much of the C&O is simply forest but one of the prettiest sections is near Great Falls.
Uh-oh. On my Currituck Ferry ride I unexpectedly found 2 1/4 miles (3.6 km) of heavy gravel in North Carolina. No flats. No mechanicals. No crashes. All good.
WORST TURKEY DINNER
Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. The Hart’s Turkey Farm dinner used to be a real highlight of the hillclimb. Five hundred riders (staggered) under one tent and a delicious turkey dinner that rivals Grandma’s best Thanksgiving dinner. Sadly, that has given way to a sandwich. 🙁
EVERY RIDE IS BETTER WITH A FERRY
If I could have a ferry on every ride I would. The Historic White’s Ferry at Leesburg remains closed. I missed planned rides on Lake Zurich and Lake Lucerne. But I was still able ride the Bellevue-Oxford Ferry in Maryland three times and the Knotts Island Ferry in North Carolina, once. It’s no coincidence that two of my top ten rides include a ferry ride.
IF NO FERRY THEN FIND A COVERED BRIDGE
Covered bridges are cool. I usually hit up to eight of them in Bedford Co., Pa. and did go back to the three great ones in Frederick Co., Md. I found Jacksons Mills Covered Bridge near Breezewwod and then found Kings Covered Bridge in Somerset Co., Pa.
I AM TRULY FORGETTABLE
In October while I was on a ride in Florida I was pretty excited to see a guy that I rode with for six days in Luxembourg in June with Rooster Racing. When I greeted him he had no clue who I was.
100,000 MILES CANCER-FREE.
Nobody should hear those words “You’ve got cancer.” When I heard them in 2009 I wanted (1) to live and (2) to ride again. I never tracked miles much before 2008 or 2009 when bike computers became readily available and have no idea how far I have ridden in my lifetime. But after cancer, which is a new lease on life, I know every mile. And on July 24 I went over 100,000 miles cancer-free.
BEST/SCARIEST ROAD SIGN
Somewhere in Fauquier County, Virginia
MOST PRACTICAL ROAD SIGN
But still SHARE THE ROAD (Bikes may use full lane)
Almost every moment on a Roosters Racing trip. But the funniest was at our first team meeting. Danny had everybody stand up. “Now sit down if you have shaved legs.” All the women and the majority of men sat down. For those who didn’t, – BUFFALO! (Rufas shaved his legs that night.)
TESTING THE LIGHTS
Late in the season I rode to Manassas for a group ride and came home in the dark. Then on Halloween I started out at 6:45 a.m. in Altamonte Springs, Fla. It was dark and misty. And my lights work. Two years ago I was almost hit at night in a parking lot in South Carolina. Has a pleasant conversation with an apologetic driver who told me he didn’t see my lights. I believed him and upgraded my visibility. Still don’t want to go far in the dark but I am comfortable for an hour or so if I have to.
These don’t come along often, in fact they are very rare, but on our last day in Luxembourg, our support driver, Jean-Claude passed three of us and waited to see what would happen. I jumped on his wheel but Paul, and riding with me, did not. Jean-Claude sped up and I sped up. We passed a few riders on that ride. We both greatly enjoyed this little used trick by cyclists. When we caught the front group, JC was beaming with delight.
On September 16, I started a Metric Century ride with only 42% charge on my Wahoo. (User error.) That would have been enough but I had a 90-minute pause to watch a softball game. If I turned off the Wahoo it would have created a ride and when I resumed I would have had a second ride. I could have joined the rides together later. I decided to ride as far as I could until it shut down. At that point I would have turned on my phone app and recorded the second part and then joined those two if it came to that. No need. I pulled into Mod Pizza in Purcellville and before I ordered asked if they had a USB-C charger. They did. I went from 3% charge when I pulled in to 50% when I left. Saved the day.
MOST AWKWARD QUESTION
Because it was a documentary, Schleck vs. Contador, I had just watched, Tour de France Winner (2011), Andy Schlect, asked me who was better, him or Alberto Contador. Hmm. How to answer honestly. “You?,” I asked/said.
Andy chuckled and said, “No, he was the better rider but I’m the better person.”
And to this I whole-heartedly agree.
10,071 miles – fifth straight year of 10,000+ miles. The first time, 2019, was the most rewarding because I had never reached 10,000 before. But this year started with COVID and was interrupted in Europe with a missing bike. There were periods of doubt but as the end of year got closer I knew I could finish the year on a positive note.
STRAVA VS RIDEWITHGPS
There is a slight discrepany on distance between the two fitness tracking programs, Strava and RideWithGPS. My Wahoo uploads the same data points to both programs and if they aren’t exact they are usually within 0.1 miles. But over 10,000 miles there can be slight differences. I’m not worried. I have a much longer history as a RideWithGPS user so I defer to their data for my annual mileage. The difference in mileage, 10,074 v 10,071 is due to some walking that was also recorded in Strava.
I was excited when I captured my first KOM (King of the Mountain) a couple of years ago. Then I chased them. Now I longer chase them – if they happen, they happen. Also, I try to give more Kudos than I receive.
And that’s a wrap on another year. No spills, crashes, or falls although I came upon one crash in Olivia’s Ride, Ben King’s retirement ride on June 10. For a year of safe riding, I am very thankful. Ride safe my friends!