Thursday, December 31, 2009

Banner Year

For the first time evah, I managed to ride for more miles than I drove my car. ~8150 cycling miles (and that number is low, as I don't get obsessive about logging all of my miscellaneous lunchtime and errand rides) versus ~6600 miles added to the odometer on the Impreza. W00t!

Replacing the Cranberry "drive 50 miles three to five times per week" commute with the South Side "ride 20 miles every day" commute helped a bit in that respect, methinks.

Ah well. Time to bask in a sense of accomplishment. And to attempt to get stoked for the Icycle Bicycle tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Obligatory end-of-year post

As 2009 winds down (wonder how many times THAT phrase has been written in the last week?), I find myself reflecting on past, present, and future. Then, after a few moments, the uncontrollable screaming stops, and I ease into a phase of gentle hyperventilation whilst I ponder.

The good

Hmm...let's see. Beautiful baby girl Elaine tops that list; although I hate to admit it, all of my cycling accomplishments kinda pale in comparison.
Putting the family aside (this IS a blog about my obsessive cycling, after all!), there's a lot of things for which I am thankful.
  • Crush the Commonwealth was a great deal of fun. In some ways, I felt almost like a sandbagger, as, well, most of the participants did not have anywhere near the distance cycling experience that I did. On the opposite paw, there were other randonneurs, MTB enduro guys, and even Real Racer types there too, so I don't feel too bad. And I fully intend to come back next year for Philly-->Pittsburgh to defend my title...
  • Venturing into the world of the upright bike has been pleasant. I've been commuting on the Bianchi for six months now (and faux-singlespeed for three), including some recent rides in truly delightful wintry conditions. I still wouldn't choose anything but a decent 'bent for rides over, say, 50 miles, but I'm glad to have other options in my skillzet.
  • The Endless Mountains 1240 was an awesome experience. Most rational people would say that such a cycling endeavor makes no sense; heck, I'd tend to agree. Almost by definition, those of us who enjoy long-distance unsupported cycling are pretty far outside the realm of the norm, even by the definition of the "normal" cyclist. But that's okay, methinks. (It's also nice to push myself that much farther beyond my prior limits, and to realize that I still have more to give if I so choose.)

The bad
  • I've been doing a poor job as Webmaster of the Western PA Wheelmen...haven't put the energy or attention into it that I should. For next year, I intend to open up the content management portion of the role a bit to others, so I can focus on techie crap while the other club officers publish amusing photos of cats on bikes or suchlike to the front page.

The ugly
  • Amazingly enough, the Endless Mountains 1240 crops up here too. ;-) Never has a ride shaken my desire to continue randonneuring and ultracycling like that one did. In retrospect, I think it made me a stronger cyclist, as the bar for "how much can you really take" has been raised a significant amount. The bar for "how much do you WANT to take" has actually lowered a bit; pain for pain's sake just doesn't much appeal.
  • Missing the Dirty Dozen hurt...of course, considering that I missed more than half of my own training rides for one reason or another, it's probably a good thing that I didn't make it out.
  • I'm already feeling the mantle of fat, out-of-shape wintry pig falling upon my shoulders...if I wish to have any hope whatsoever of doing well in 12-hour racing next year, I need to not let myself slide into corpulent sloth.
The future
  • A pretty piece of flèche. I have yet to do a proper flèche; as my RBA Jim Logan needs one to complete his R-5000, I think it'd be a good year to do my first one. As it happens, my parents' farm would be a fine starting point for routes to either DC or Eastern PA, so we'll likely be participating in one of those regions' flèches.
  • Calvin's Challenge is May 1st. While I'm trying to keep my expectations reasonable ("Don't die. Don't bail out early. Only have good hallucinations"), I do still have some feeble hopes of a decent first race. If I can break 240 miles, I'll be ecstatic; 220 miles would make me happy, and I'll be content so long as I break 200. This race is important to me, as it's my first toe-dip into the murky waters of competitive ultracycling; if it goes well, I'll contemplate more serious races such as Sebring or the AD540 or suchlike.
  • The Pittsburgh Randonneurs club is still in its infancy, and will need a good bit of TLC in the near term. I'm delighted to have a rando organization in my back yard, as it means much less obligatory travel in order to get in a full brevet series. Next year, we'll be offering numerous 200Ks, as well as a 300 and 400 in July.
  • Paris-Brest-Paris 2011 is on the horizon. I intend to follow a scientific and rigorous program of preparation consisting of A) riding lots of brevets in 2010, and B) that's it.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and best wishes to y'all. I mean yunz. Or yinz. Whatever.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter's Here

And about darn time, sez I.

After a leisurely breakfast, I rode over to the Union Project for I Made It. Of course, being an utter doofus, I neglected to bring the key for my U-lock, so ended up sharing a chain with a gentleman named Rob. Convenient? No, but far better than relying on the combination-locked cable I keep in my bag for emergency locking purposes; said cable lock could probably be cut with a set of nail clippers in a minute flat, much less real tools.

Anyway, my theft-prophylaxis maunderings aside, it was grey, cold, windy, and flurrying snow all afternoon. I loved it. Aside from slightly chilled toes (road spray soaked through the shoes), I pretty much nailed the wardrobe requirements for comfort on and off the bike; never got too hot, or too cold, even if some of the combinations were of dubious quality, vis-a-vis that whole fashion thing.

I'm still rolling on the Vittoria Randonneurs; they did fine in this weather, but I'm starting to think it may be time to break out the 'cross tires, if not bite the bullet and go right to the studs. I also really need to put a darn mudflap on the front fender, to cut back the tire spray on my feet. Note that I've been planning to do that mudflap since I got the Bianchi; I'm starting to feel like the proverbial deep-woods Appalachian denizen with a hole in his roof: "When it ain't rainin', the roof don' leak; when it's rainin', I cain't fix it nohow."

Upcoming plans for the winter: I need to tear down and rebuild the P-38, as it's in pretty sad shape after a hard season of rando abuse. The old Rocket needs to be componentized , cleaned, and stored, until I get around to rebuilding it as some form of urban assault 'bent. I need to start thinking about some form of half-arsed training plan(should work with Mayhew), as I still intend to take a serious crack at a 12-hour race next spring. Oh, yeah, and I need to nail down routes for the Pittsburgh Randonneurs brevet series. And get around to some long-overdue WPW website work. And...