Monday, December 29, 2014

Closing up the year, goals for next year

It looks pretty likely that if I get to ride my bike one more time before the end of  the year it will be a short early morning or late night ride so it's pretty safe to say that I know how my cycling year went in 2014 now.

First, by the numbers ...

It was a very good year.  I rode 2982 miles so far and that could easily be 3000 miles in a couple of days.  This is the second highest total for me, ever. I rode my bike to work about 120 times, that's about 1,800 miles, or 60% of the all of my riding this year.  I rode almost 900 miles on my IF, all of that being pure recreation and usually faster than riding my Surly Cross Check.  I also rode my Cross Check for fun about 300 miles or so.  Much of that involved dirt road rides of one sort or another.  Not bad for a busy guy.

Bike Commuting

If you remember, it was a cold winter in Boston in early 2014.  Because of that I didn't ride to work until a couple of trips in March.  Both of those rides were inspired by the errandonnee challenge.  After returning from a 10 day work trip that month, I started commuting somewhat regularly in April and kept it up through December.  I pushed my limits of fair weather commuting to light rain and cold temperatures and urban night riding.

At the end of daylight savings time in November, I promised myself that I would ride at least the first day, to see how I felt riding in the city in the dark.  I have some experience riding for recreation at night but commuting at night seemed a bit daunting.  It was fine, as it turned out, although I did get a flat that first Monday night.  The part of my commute that concerns me the most is the dark bike path, both because not everyone is lit or has reflectors on and security issues (there have been thefts in this section late in the evening).  A lot of T riders do have lights and that does help.  In any case, I found that I enjoyed the night ride although I am even slower commuting at night.  I'll quit bike commuting for the season once the roads are salted, unless I can get a bike that I am willing to either leave at Alewife or riding on the slushy and/or icy streets of Cambridge.  I'll miss it when it's gone - riding is much more pleasant than driving and it has to be pretty cold for me to not want to ride.

Road Riding

 This year wasn't as good as last year, when I was prepping for the Mount Greylock ride with Ride Studio Cafe.  I had a good start, until I had a major tummy ache in June, which slowed me down substantially.  I really enjoy riding my IF, which is, for me, a very fast bike.  I equipped it with a dyno hub so I could use it for road rides late in the season and I enjoyed a few early morning rides on it - hopefully there will be more next year.  The 900 miles of road riding I did this year pales in comparison to my only other 3,000+ year (in 2000) when all of my miles were recreational road rides.  But those days are gone for now with kids taking up a lot of my time.


I was again the Northeast Regional Office for the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge.  The chief coffeeneur and I added one new map to the set, which showed the shops where many coffeeneurs drank coffee or other allowed drinks.  I, of course, managed to not finish this year but it was fun trying.


I did my best but didn't finish since I was getting ready for a significant work trip.  But it is a great idea which got me on my bike earlier in the year than I otherwise would have.


Coffee and bikes?  I guess it is more than just my taste.  Thanks to Russ and Mike for advice on alternatives to a pump espresso machine and thanks to Grimbeur Bros for some great coffee.  And thanks to all of the shops I visited on the Coffeeneuring Challenge.

Special Events

I did several fun special event rides: the Diverged Ride, the Ride Studio Cafe Pioneers Ride, the  Honey Hundred, and the D2R2.  The Pioneers Ride was my longest ride of the year (and maybe of the last 7 years) and was a great test of riding in a group as well as navigating with a Garmin GPS unit.  The other 3 rides were largely dirt road rides on my Surly.  I replaced the commuter tires on my Surly with Clement USH tires, which was a great change.

While the following two rides weren't special event like in that they were solo rides, they do deserve special mention.  While on  the family vacation in North Conway, I did my favorite New England road ride, Bear Notch.  I also rode over Hurricane Mountain Road for the second time.  The first ride is easy, with one short by very doable hill followed by a long, largely downhill run back to North Conway.  On the other hand, the Hurricane Mountain ride was very easy for most of the miles, followed by one of the hardest climbs I have ever done.  It wasn't made easier by not being in very good shape but it was fun to try and see a sign at the top telling me that I just rode up a 17% grade.

Bike changes

I didn't replace or add bikes this year but I did make a couple of significant changes.  I changed out the rear wheel on the Surly after persistent issues with the 105 hub, which couldn't be fixed with a hard to find free hub body.  It now has a White Industries MI5 MTB hub laced to a Mavic 719 rim with 36 spokes.  I also went for a full time dynamo hub on my IF, a Schmidt Son Deluxe 32 hub laced to a Mavic Open Pro rim with 32 spokes.  It's great fun having easy lighting on the IF.

And thanks

Overall it was a great year of riding and commuting and I thank everyone who I rode with, even if for just a few miles.  For a guy who leaves the house alone, I tend to ride with people for a few miles or longer when I can and I appreciate the lift and the camaraderie.  I also thank Ride Studio Cafe and Honey, and the volunteers) for organizing rides as well as Sandy Whittlesey (and all of the volunteers) for organizing the D2R2 and giving me additional route options.  And thanks to Hub Bicycle and Ride Studio Cafe for keeping my bikes running.

I get inspiration to ride from a lot of people who I either don't know or just met a few times, like Shoji, Matt Roy, Chip Baker, and Pamela Blalock.  It's nice to know that there are people much more focused on bikes than me.

With two young boys, my life is pretty constrained right now.  Getting out riding, even on a commute through the city, provides some measure of sanity and I'm pretty grateful for that.

Goals for 2015

I'd love to continue bike commuting as much as I did in 2014.  It really is the best way to get to work.  Last year I  started late and then had a decent number of days that I had to do two preschool/school/day camp drop offs and pick ups.  I don't have the bike for that although I can dream about a Surly Big Dummy or Xtracycle Edgerunner.  Maybe I'll get one a long tail in 2015 but that is hardly certain.  If I do, I'll be picking up the boys by bike when I need to.  Otherwise I will commute by bike that many less days.

I'm hoping for more long rides on my IF.  I may have to get back into my habit of 50 or 60 miles by 8:30AM and it will be worth it if I do.  I'm hoping to get something like a Dill Pickle bag to extend my riding in marginal weather.   I'd love to be able to add or drop a layer and be able to comfortably add to carry it when not in use.  I imagine longer rides in the Berkshires.

I'm not all that into group rides but I'd love to do the Diverged, D2R2, and Honey 100 again this year.  I loved doing the highly modified D2R2 and heard from Sandy that I was hardly the first to mix up routes.  I really appreciated Sandy taking the time to help me modify the Green River Ride to include significant climbing and get away from the crowds on the main routes.

I would like to try a populaire or two but they would have to be later in the year than the April NER event.  I can't see myself having time to get in shape for a 200K or longer brevet, although the idea is appealing.