Despite not traveling to Europe for a cycling trip as I did in both 2007 and 2008, 2009 nevertheless was a fantastic year of cycling for me. We saw the High Performance Cycling Team really take shape as a cohesive group of great cyclists and people, and many new friendships were established.
In March, Justin Angle and I spent six days cycling in Northern California. We rode to and from San Francisco up to the Napa/Santa Rosa area, and did some interesting and very challenging riding based out of Sebastopol, which is a small town west of Santa Rosa. One of the rides we did was the 100 mile version of the Levi Leipheimer Gran Fondo. I made trips to Chelan in both June and August with Tim Shields, and we did the Chelan Century Challenge together as part of our June trip. In July, Tracy and I spent eight days in Whistler, BC, and I managed to squeeze in some serious riding amidst our days of hiking and relaxing. On September 13th, Tracy and I volunteered at the third annual High Pass Challenge, and prior to that I spent three days of cycling (278 miles/20000’ climbing) in the Rainier/St. Helen’s area.
Last, but not least, I hit the road when Tracy and I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Green Valley, Arizona visiting Tracy’s parents in their new home.
2009 was a year during which I did not one structured formal interval on the bike. I relied on the Hills of the West Coast group ride for a weekly dose of high intensity riding, and I spent time riding at tempo pace or doing climbs at a “hard” pace while riding on some other days. When I say I didn’t perform any specific intervals, I have to mention that I would sometimes go out with the intention of getting in 30-40 minutes of climbing at a defined intensity. For me, it’s a lot more interesting to go out and ride up climbs I like, than to pound up one climb over and over. I wasn’t too concerned about the specific length of each climb; I just kept a running tally in my head of total minutes climbing. This strategy worked well, and I believe I was almost as fit this year as in 2008, when I had the benefit of a very hard three weeks of cycling in Europe to whip me into shape. Based on my times up some of my favorite climbs, as well as how I was able to ride (compete?) on the HOWC, I think 2009 was a pretty good year for me.
Speaking of “competing”, I’ve noticed over the last several years how much more “competitive” it is out on the road. It used to be when I overtook a rider, we’d exchange a few pleasantries, and I’d be on my way. Nowadays, many riders don’t say a word, or maybe they just grunt, and then they glue themselves to your rear wheel as if you have offended them! I guess they want to “race” you to prove just how strong they are, implying that they were just “taking it real easy today” when you passed them. Regardless of whether I was trying to take it easy or not, I would often find myself in an awkward situation. Honestly, the only real competition for me is determining how today’s “me” is doing compared to the “me” of years gone by. Granted, as part of that, I do measure myself against riders I ride with frequently, and I have a few other benchmarks.
Finally, I managed to ride 10,265 miles (with 0 miles “ridden” indoors) and climb over 555,000 feet—going over 500,000’ for the third year in a row! Only 108 of my 2009 miles were ridden in the rain. Not normally quantity goal based, I did decide late in the year to hit 10K, instead of tallying my normal 9500 or so miles. At times, I found myself thinking about “having” to ride when I really didn’t feel like it, just to book some miles. That must be why a lot of people call what they do “training”, even if they don’t have a specific goal in mind. For me it’s always just riding; training is something I try to do with our cats!
I’ve made some cycling New Year’s resolutions for 2010, and none of them involve going faster. Road cycling to me is a privilege, not a right, and I am going to do my small part in making it better. For non-cyclists, I can only hope that while I view cycling as a privilege, they respect it as a legitimate form of transportation as stated by law.
Take the time to think about your own personal cycling “rants and raves”. Resolve to incorporate less of the former, and more of the latter into your riding. Let’s all pitch in to make the (cycling) world better.
I hope to see you on the road in 2010.