If you been looking for me this year, I was probably out riding a bike. This very bike-ish year is coming to a close in a few days. It is fitting I guess that I just ticked over 5000 miles for the year; 5003.2 to be exact. That's quite a few miles in my opinion. While I don't normally go out and ride solely for the sake of putting in miles, the last hundred or so of raw-weather riding were motivated by the milestone. It would have been sad to say something like "I rode 4931 miles last year." 5000 has a nicer ring.
I decided to keep a cycling log for the duration of 2008. I had a log in 2007 but didn't bother too much with it. This year, I kept track of every outing just because I wanted to be able to look back on the year and see how it turned out. The miles break out like this: 1846.9 miles of commuting, 284.4 miles of errands and 2871.9 miles of pure recreation. I rode the Rivendell A Homer Hilsen the most for 2683.1 miles, then the Gunnar Street Dog (46x17) for 1539.3 miles, then the Poprad townie bike 775.8 miles and the Motobecane (gone to a better home) 5 miles. So what does this mean? Looking back, I don't actually see much value in reading too deeply into the numbers, but on some level I'm happy that I can almost quantify the year's fun. I had a lot of great rides this year.
I think the year is better understood by a couple of themes:
- Commuting by bike is terrific in so many ways, chiefly in that it gives me a good chunk of time each day to get outside and play. Aside from the fun factor, it helps me feel great mentally and physically every day. The environmental benefit is nice too.
- Cycling can be good for a relationship. Mrs. Wheelie joined me for several outings. We raised a bunch of money on the PMC charity ride. It was great. I hope she stays with it. I got her a useful handlebar bag, a comfortable saddle and some nice wheels. Little things make a difference.
- I tried randonneuring this year with the Boston Brevet Series. Yes, riding 400km in a day is very difficult, and yet I'd love to try 600km. Getting involved in organized distance rides (not races) motivated me to get out and ride regularly. Brevets are tons of fun. The rides draw my kind of people, an altogether fantastic collection of like-minded cyclists. The D2R2 was my favorite brevet.
- Having a handful of bikes is the way to go. In 2007 I was down to 1 bike at some point, and that was fine and simple. Now there are 3 bikes, and I really enjoy the variety. Sometimes riding fixed is good, sometimes cruising on a townie bike is good, sometimes a touring bike is good. I started getting into trail riding, mainly because I moved to a less urban area with trails and because dirt road events like D2R2 helped me to branch out a little more. The A. Homer Hilsen was great for everything: roads, trails, etc; it's my favorite and feels special every time. That explains why the AHH got so many miles. I'll probably add a mountain bike to the collection soon.
- I like to tinker. I've always liked fixing things and working with my hands. Working on bicycles is fulfilling in many ways. If I had to choose between tinkering and riding I would choose riding, but I would still miss the wrench. Luckily that's not a choice I must make. There are many projects kicking around in my head. I'm on the 3rd or so iteration of the Poprad, the fixed-gear needs an overhaul, the Rivendell is in need of maintenance. The new house is almost ready, and I can't wait to set up the workshop in the basement so I can get started.
- Blogging is fun. I'm not sure if I'll keep it up long-term, but it was nice to reflect on some rides and bike thoughts and do a little writing. There is nothing as thrilling as getting a comment from some new reader. I only got a handful, but each was special. I'm addicted to reading blogs too. Leaving comments is fun.
- I try to bring a camera when I go out. Either the iphone or a point-and-shoot camera will do. Just as long as I have something handy when I see something special. I'm still hoping to get a photo of the guy who rides a Vespa with a large dog on his lap; it's impressive. Also, blogs are better with pictures.
- This last point is huge and important: I will ride a bike as long as it is fun. I was on a club ride recently when someone mentioned that it was "time to go to work." I think he meant that our group was spending too much time socializing and not enough time suffering. This comment struck me (and everyone else) as crazy; cycling should never be "work". Cycling should always be firmly in the "play" category. Ironically, I may have to work hard to make sure that cycling is never too serious. The whole concept of a ride log is somewhat counter productive in this regard. Additionally, I hope never to get an indoor trainer rig. On the fun side, I've been having a good time with simple platform pedals and unplanned exploration rides lately. Yes, these are the important things.
That's about it for this year. Hopefully 2009 will bring peace, good health, good fortune and more another bike-ish year.