Entering 2010 I was hooked. I had a new touring bike, the Surly Long Haul Trucker, and had joined a local club, the Severna Park Peloton where I was making friends and learning to broaden my horizons with regards to what was possible. I started commuting to work on the bike on a regular basis.
I didn't however quantify my goals for the year back in January. I didn't have a specific mileage in mind, or any awards I wanted to earn, I just wanted to continue the fun and the improvements in my general health and fitness. I was introduced to Randonneuring by the SPP and it proved to be a very good outlet for me to channel those objectives. Long distance rides with the goal to finish in a set time period. It's not a race but it requires you stick to a schedule, and no SAG vans, you must be self sufficient and resourceful on the road. The rides are completed year round in all sorts of weather. The rider must judge for himself what is safe and what is realistic based on the conditions he finds and his fitness, experience, and level of preparation. These are many of the same attributes that have always attracted me to sailing as well, especially when going offshore for long periods of time.
I wanted to give it a try. So I did that first 200K brevet back in January with Chris Lane. It was 17 degrees at the start and we never saw the warm side of freezing all day. The wind was in our face, hard much of that day. We finished cold, exhausted and excited to be done on time. You can find that first ride report in the archive links to your left. It was called the Tappahannock 200K.
The sense of accomplishment was almost euphoric. But the level of commitment and logistical challenges to repeat it 11 more times on a monthly scheduled seemed completely unrealistic at the time. So of course I did it anyway. Every month I found a way to make the time and get me and the bike to the start. Rain, heat, wind, snow, I saw it all through the seasons of a single year. Sometimes by myself, more often with one or more partners.
In between I kept showing up in the mornings riding with SPP or meeting Chris and riding to work. The miles started adding up to really big numbers. My heart, lungs, and legs all grew stronger as my stamina improved.
I learned how to dress for cold weather, and warm, how to eat so the fuel would last all day, how to fix things when they broke, and I started to appreciate that I hadn't yet really tested my own limits. I also saw some beautiful countryside. I never ventured more than about 150 miles from home. But I rediscovered how beautiful Central MD, Pennsylvania, Virgina, Delaware and the Chesapeake Bay really are.
There are some goals I have not accomplished this year and some things I'm resolved to do differently. I have yet to ride an event longer than 200K despite plans in September that came within a week of fruition before the logistics fell apart. I haven't lost nearly enough weight from all of this either. I'm still obese by any reasonable standard, and with all of the miles I rode and the calories I've burned this year, that's very disappointing. But I kept shoveling it in so the weight has yet to come off. I didn't take nearly enough pictures. I see a lot of neat things and pass a lot of great countryside on the bike. But I don't often slow down and record what I see, despite the ease of modern digital photography. Time on the bike has also frequently become time away from my family. I want to change that too.
But the best part of it all has been the new friends I've made and the many interesting people I've met along the way. That will certainly keep me on the bike for years to come. Some of those friends I have yet to meet in person. I'm not the only guy using a bike to pound himself in to shape and writing about it. I've met a few others online chasing the same goals and am grateful for their support. It's been every bit as helpful and inspiring as the folks I see almost daily on the road.
This year I rode 8500 miles, earned an R-12 medal from RUSA, and made many new friends. I'm thankful for all of that and quite satisfied.
There are so many people who have earned a sincere "Thankyou" or more from me. If you take the time to read along, then you can count yourself among them. But I must single out my wife Tivy Binnix and our six beautiful children: Taylor, Justin, Jessica, Morgan, Zach and Erik. I love you all and am so grateful.
In 2011 I will also do more:
- Ride 9000 Miles or more for the year
- Get my weight down under 200 lbs
- Take and publish more pictures while riding
- Spend more time with my family on and off of the bike