Taking Stock

This is the obligatory end of year/beginning of year post of reflections, ruminations, and otherwise self-absorbed drivel.  Nonetheless, in the world Biking According to doc, this is a good time of year to sit back and take stock of where we’ve been and where we hope to go.

I always regret not being able to ride more than I do, so whining about not getting out on the bike enough is pointless.  If I ever do reach that level, I probably won’t have either the desire or the time to blog about it, so there.  Otherwise, 2010 was a good year.

I didn’t set a particular mileage goal, other than to ride further than the year before.  I did that.  There were some extended periods where my schedule and/or the weather didn’t cooperate and I found myself jonesing to get out, but eventually things broke free and I was able to carve out time for a ride or two.

What I did do this last year that I think is worth noting is that I mentally sorted out what I wanted biking to be.  It’s notable because it involves relaxing and enjoying the moment.  For me, that is an epiphany and probably a sign of me getting old.  Every other endeavor to this point has usually involved fueling my intense competitive nature with excessive training and excessive accumulation of toys.  With biking, I’m happy just to ride.

I really enjoy day rides, and look forward to doing more.  This involves getting up early, picking a point on the map that looks like a challenge, and pacing myself to get there and back.  I’ve learned that I have two obstacles:  First is having full days to do this.  There is always something going on, so it’s important to pronounce well ahead of time that “this is going to be MY day.”  Second is the issue of getting lost.  It happened twice this last year where I ended up riding in big circles, not knowing my bearings, and overextending myself.  The solution here is going to be carrying a map, because cue sheets don’t cut it and I’m not ready to immerse myself into the world of GPS.  But going on a day ride where I can take in the sites, stop and heat up some lunch, shoot some bad pictures, and clear the mind is something I like to do.

I’ve yet to reach the century mark, but I’m finding that I’m not drawn to an arbitrary mileage goal as much as I once was.  If there ends up being a destination that involves more than a hundred miles of riding, and I’m in shape for it, then it’s going to happen.  When it does, I’ll celebrate; but I’m not going to do a century just for the sake of it.

Bike camping.  This was new, with two S24O’s.  Those efforts were both shake down cruises for testing gear, packing, and other assorted issues; and also a lot of fun.  We had cold and we had rain; but manly men prevailed.  I’m a gear head by nature, so messing with camping stuff, and finding a balance between weight, cost, comfort, packability, and usefulness was the order of the day.  I’m at a point where I think I could go out for several days self supported and do fine.  I might smell a bit funky by the time I got home, but I’d otherwise be fine.  I wish there were more postings on the web by people doing S24O’s and short tours to see what others are doing, but I sense this is not yet a big movement.

The Bikes.   I found myself falling more in love with the Trucker this year as my do-it-all machine.  Switching to the Albatross bars and the Model 8 saddle really changed the feel of the bike.  It’s now a touring/gopher/night cruising/exploring transportation machine that is superbly comfortable and a treat to ride.  The upright position has grown on me, and I look forward to loading her up for some serious touring.

The X bike is still out there as my lightweight drop bar bike if I get the urge to go fast.  I believe that the shorter top tube on this frame makes it more comfortable for that style of riding, so I’m going to tweek it a bit to get it just right.  Both of my sons have already outgrown it, so I can have it back for exclusive use.  (I haven’t figured out yet what to do for them, other than to start looking for 64-67cm frames.)  I need to beware, though, of throwing money at a bike that I don’t intend to ride a whole lot.

The idea of a folder is still out there, but I don’t feel strongly enough about it to justify the expense.  If I happen to see one sitting out in the trash…

The whole losing weight thing didn’t quite go as planned either.  I didn’t lose any weight, but I didn’t gain any either.  I suppose that’s a good start.

So enough with the self reflection and on to 2011:

–         More day rides.  I want to ride to Gettysburg, Shippensburg, Wrightsville, Southern York County, and other points of note; and make it back without any unplanned detours to Poukipsee.

–         S24O’s.  No set number, but whenever I can.  After all, the elan of an S24O is the lack of advance planning.  I’m thinking rides to Michaux, Colonel Denning, Stony Creek, and a few other possibilities.  They may end up being longer than 24 hours, but that’s not an obstacle – it’s a bonus.

–         Some other long rides.  I’d like to do Pine Creek and possibly combine with a camping excursion.  The challenge there seems to be avoiding the supported tours that clog up the trail, so either spring or fall is best.  I’ve also got this crazy idea in my head to leave from my house, hit the HRT, ride to Baltimore, then to DC, and take the Allegheny Passage up to Pittsburgh.  Basically a week long, epic ride full of camping and riding.  That’s asking a bit much at this point, but I smile every time I think of it.

–         I think it’s also going to be a good year for just riding more.  Son #1 is going to start driving in the Spring, so that means I won’t be hauling him around as much.  Plus, with one kid in college and two more on the way, we don’t have any money for prolonged house projects that would otherwise suck up my time.  I want to ride more than last year; and more often than last year.  We’ll leave it at that.

See you on the road!

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