Friday Group Ride #98

There is nothing actually very special about the end of the year. The moon has completed yet another revolution of our green planet, true, but it does that all the time. We humans who track our whereabouts in time by the movement of the celestial bodies have simply decided this is the end. We’ve come around the sun again. We made it! Except, quite where the beginning and end of that orbit are is pretty subjective.

Nonetheless, in our tiny, human way we mark the passage with all sorts of big talk. We do year-end awards (look for ours soon), stories-of-the-year stories. We make lists. Even though time marches on, and the borders are arbitrary, we do this.

And so you have been reading all sorts of retrospectives of 2011, many of which mention names like Gilbert, Cavendish, Evans, Contador and Schleck. Those guys all had big years. I know. I watched. On TV.

Too some extent, the riders in the pro peloton are no more real than the characters in my wife’s favorite television programs. Our paths don’t cross. I don’t know them in anything more than a two-dimensional way.

What is far more tangible for me is MY cycling year, not theirs. This year I rode D2R2 for the first time, bought my first new mountain bike in 15 years, started a new Saturday morning group ride, showed my son proper wheelie technique, bought my wife her first road bike, and took a job, a full-time job, in the cycling industry.

Those were the top stories of 2011 for me. This week’s Group Ride, the last ride of the year, asks the question: What were the top stories of YOUR cycling year?


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  1. Paul

    I’ve only been riding seriously for a couple of years, and this year I had two big firsts:

    1. Rode up my first mountain (Mt. Greylock, in NW Massachusetts)

    2. Rode in the Alps (biggest climb was to the Semnoz ski resort, aka Cret de Chatillon, outside Annecy, although the hardest was probably Col de la Forclaz which we did later the same day)

  2. Ransom

    Mid-pack Masters C in cyclocross may be nothing to crow about, but after 12 years away from racing, and having a racing history comprised entirely of failing to train and having my helmet handed to me with my head still in it, I’m delighted to have flailed my way up to “average”.

  3. A Stray Velo

    For me it was finding the motivation to ride again. I hadn’t quit riding but I wasn’t riding a lot the last few years. This year I really got back at it and found everything that had been missing.

    Having the desire and motivation back enabled me to accomplish some pretty great things for myself. I did some long rides, one of the best was with my father whom I don’t see much since having moved to Europe. I also had the opportunity to Mountain bike again which was an all but forgotten pleasure until I was back in the US at the end of the summer and had a chance to rediscover it all over again.

    In the midst of all the riding I lost somewhere around 10 kilograms, which considering that I was pretty lean to begin with, was a lot of weight to get rid of.

    All in all I had a great year and to top it off I’ve got a new bike ordered and I’m still riding a lot. Even in the dark, cold and the rain of northern Europe’s winter. Thus far 2012 is looking pretty good.

  4. Ben

    Martin, Francis J., of St. Charles, Missouri, died on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at the age of 71. Dearest husband of Mary Ann Martin; dear son of the late Frank and Margaret Martin; cherished father of Craig (Karen) Martin, Chrissy (Bob) Busken, Brian (Carey) Martin, Sean (Heather) Martin, Shannon (Curtis) Buehrle and Anne (Eric) Juden; beloved grandfather of Cody, Kylie, Samantha, Madison, Jack, Justin, Claire, Riley, Nathan, Chase, Maura and Brennan; dear brother of Kay Blanke, Pat (Mike) Grzyb, Michelle (Jon) Larson and Peggy Sluhan.

    Francis was an Insurance Agent with State Farm for 29 years. He was a proud member of the Wrestling Hall of Fame and CBC Alumni Hall of Fame. He was loved by all and will be greatly missed.

    In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to St. Augustine Church, 1371 Hamilton Ave., St. Louis, MO 63312 or Christian Brothers College High School, 1850 De La Salle Drive, St. Louis, MO 63141.

    We knew him as Fran. He was a regular on our Saturday no-drop ride. It was Fran who always stopped to help with a flat and to keep the new riders getting lost. Out of the blue he met us for a Sunday ride Dec. 18 I stayed on the back with him on a 35 miler, talked my ear off. Then spent an hour with him and another friend Mike having coffee. Fran had asked for gift cards from the local bike shop for Christmas from his kids.

    Fran, you will be missed.

  5. Doug Page

    This year I climbed the Galibier. Although my plans to ride the day preceding the Tour stage were thwarted by a snowstorm, I got to the top the following Sunday. I climbed both sides, and had a tailwind and sunshine both directions! The summit was open only to pedestrians and bikes due to snow, and the wind was impressive. Unforgettable! The new Marco Pantani Monument is not to be missed. I hope to be in France July 11th for the first TDF ride over the Col du Grand Colombier. All the best to RKP in 2012. Keep the great posts coming!

  6. Souleur

    this year was a right brain development year, mostly. also, bought a cross bike and have loved it.
    however, my son is doing great with much opportunity in the navy
    my daughter bumped up to varsity volleyball
    my wife aged more gracefully than anyone

    so for me, not much all in all, 2011 will go down as forgetable in my cycling but richer in many other ways

  7. Bryan Lewis

    It was a very good year for this weird old geek (who can’t cut his attachment to the odometer). 4,150 miles logged, about 2/3 of it commuting to work. Miles on car = 3,150. It just keeps feeling better.

  8. Bikelink

    Two things for this 41 y/o cat 4 road racer. First, my wife’s 40 y/o bday gift to me, sending me off on a wonderful early spring ‘training camp’ in Tuscon ( Next, driving a bunch of juniors in our team van ( and getting to race with them as they crushed the competition.

  9. James

    My top story was the fact that Dish Network made available RAI television! For an additional 10 bucks I could watch and record, on my DVR, the Giro. I have never been able to watch every day of the Giro before. The only bummer is that RAI doesn’t transmit in HD (at least not in the US). The more racing I get to watch the better!

  10. Louis

    For me personally, the year was a disaster! I started the year with a hamstring injury that took a month or two of therapy to recovery. Just as I was back to form in the spring, a rider in front of me went down because he touched a wheel. Over the handle bars I went suffering compression fractures of two lumbar vertebra. It took 5 or 6 months to fully recover from that. To end the year riding on a rainy day, my bike slid out from under me on a roundabout resulting in a clavicle fracture. I hope next year is better because now I am scared.

    My wife, on the other hand, had a great year. She got serious about training and started racing. She joined a women’s team and raced an impressive season. The season culminated with competition in the USA Masters National Championships in Bend, Oregon. No podium spots this year but next year she has a very good chance. Can’t wait!!!

  11. randomactsofcycling

    My Cycling highlights were three in terms of achievements; racing in a three day Tour and not getting crushed, Touring the Dolomites and Alps and getting my new bike. All three will forever be etched as giving my cycling life further joy.
    The one big realisation I had this year is that I am a cyclist. I rode more kilometres than I drove. I looked for new and interesting ways to get to regular places, on my bike. I made plans to increase the size of my bicycle stable and I identified aches and pains that only exist on the days that I don’t ride. Success!

  12. armybikerider

    My cycling top stories document how at 50 I am logging more miles, consistantly, than at anytime in the last 20 years – 12,000 on my Lynskey logged over the last 2 years, and the associated feelings of fitness that naturally follow. I’ve also noticed a sea change of sorts in my attitude towards cycling. I find myself gravitating more towards publications like Rouleur and 9W rather than more mainstream media like Bicycling etc as I adopt a more cycling-centric lifestyle and not just view it as a past time, sport or hobby. Like others on this thread I logged many more miles on my bike(s) than in a car this year and plan to continue into 2012.

  13. Paul Ainsworth

    I dragged my fat, 250 pound ass to the top of Hurricane Ridge (5200 vertical) for the first time. Other than climbing up Ventoux in my 20’s (20 years ago), the biggest climb I’ve done. And I had a blast doing it, too!

  14. Jim

    57 yo, stopped smoking and started riding 2 years ago. In 2011 I bagged 5000+ miles riding avg. 5 days a week, climbed the Kancamagus, worked my 1 hr. average on the flats to >20 mph. Will do better next year, maybe start racing. I love to ride!

  15. michael

    ride of the year – 196km, 4700m of climbing, out in the middle of nowhere, in a part of the world nary a soul has been. beautiful day. hit 114km/hr on a sustained 14% 4km long downhill with big sweeping bends and no need for brakes. threw up on the roadside once on the way home from gel gut-rot. totally shattered when i got back to my vehicle. haven’t smiled that much in years!

    development of the year – moving 5500km eastward, away from the west coast and back to my original stomping grounds in far north-eastern Quebec. lots of lonely, empty roads. lots of power climbs. constant wind. re-learning what it means to have a suitcase full of courage on every ride. joining a new riding community. developing new friendships. starting my own business. new love in my life. owing my first house at age 39, with it being directly on the ocean in a private cove with only one neighbour. brilliant!

    now about 2012…..heading to Belgium in March/April for 3 weeks of hardman cyclosportives. first time riding there. cannot wait! celebrating my 40th b-day in style throughout the whole year is the plan. giving a triathlon a go, just for shits and giggles. running a marathon for the first time in the fall, just to see if i can. 10000 km for the year on the bike is the target. nice round number. i like it.

    vive la vie 🙂

  16. redroadrider

    2011, as with most years of late, was mixed with highs and lows, fortunately for me, there were more bright spots than downers. continued my slow, steady progress back to a level of fitness that i let slip away quite some time ago. averaged one day a week commuting on the bike.lost a good friend to yet another car/bike mismatch. rode a fast, for me, century-first time in many years. logged lots of saddle time riding my beloved red clay roads here in north florida. gave my 6 y.o. grandson a wicked sweet redline bmx bike, hoping to instill this love of all things two wheeled. looking forward to riding with him. rode 20 miles of singletrack on the cross rig today, on a sunny 78 degree day. plan to increase the amount of commuting in 2012. even more clay road rides. a 60+ mile off road race in february-piggy’s revenge, come on down to s.w. florida. rouge roubaix in march? anyway, this love affair/obsession with the bike has rejuvenated my 54 y.o. ass, reminding me of what is truly important to me, and, making me commited to never again letting it slip out of my life. and thanks to all of you at RKP for your ongoing excellence.

    1. Padraig

      Everyone: thanks for both reading and responding, not just to this post, but all year. Happy new year to everyone … We will have a few surprises in store for you in 2012.

  17. Robot

    @Eto – They’re 650b, all the obstacle clearance of a 29er with the handling of a 26″. At least theoretically. There are less tire options, and I had the wheels built custom, BUT I actually think it’s the optimal wheel size.

  18. CptCrnch

    I made the jump to the B category last year in the Mid Atlantic CX scene and got my butt handed to me. This year I trained smarter and was consistently in the top 20 (in 125 rider fields) and notched my first top 10 in a B race.

    Also making the list is discovering this website. I was a casual reader back at the beginning of year but the way things were handled at another cycling website and the hiring of Mr. Pelkey have turned me into a regular reader. Chapeu RKP!

  19. Punkture

    A week long tour in Italy starting with the Sestriere stage of the Giro and finishing on the Mortirolo (bumped into Alexandre Vinoukorov at the top). Also riding the Stelvio for the first time later on in the summer were the personal cycling highlights of the year.

    Making new friends within the wonderful world of cycling and most importantly having finally persuaded all but a small handful of my closest (non-cyclist) friends to buy a bike and come on some rides, most are now gearing up for their first or second winters as commuting cyclists, yes!

    keep writing this fantastic blog, you are the best around for sure!

  20. Jesus from Cancun

    My high in cycling this year was getting my 9 year old his first mountain bike and good quality helmet, and seeing him love them.

    Just as important to me, my 3 year old getting his first bike. No tricycle, a real bike with training wheels. I love getting home after work to get him on the bike and chase him up and down our dead-end street and neighborhood park.

    Personally, I rode much less in 2011 than I rode any year before. But for me, that is a high. Learning to enjoy other things in life, to feel joy in seeing my kids on a bike as much as I felt it when I raced, that is something I achieved this year.
    Now I ride less and that’s perfectly OK with me, I see it as an improvement in my life.

    I still love the sport of cycling and I still follow the big pro races with enthusiasm. But now I prefer this website over all the “racing” ones. I guess that is part of the change I experienced this year.

    Cycling is not only about riding farther, stronger, beating others to a line and bragging about it. It is also about knowing when it’s time to be satisfied with what has been done so far, and enjoy winding down and sharing the non-competitive cycling bug with family and friends.

  21. Fat Monte

    After an almost 20 year break, I got back on the bike this year.

    Oh, I’d tried in the past. But a lingering old injury (fractured hip) from 10 years ago would force me off the bike in agony. This year, I vowed to ride through it. And did.

    Until I proceeded to be almost killed by a truck, thankfully only breaking my spine. Got back on and rode 10 miles home, amazing my ER doctor, who also turned out to be a riding buddy. Recuperation took a month of season away. Could be worse.

    Fully addicted to riding again, coming back into form and shedding pounds. So for 2012, I hope to be a less-fat Monte.

  22. Hautacam

    This was kind of a meh year for me cyclingwise. Had a good start but then lost the mojo before CX season. Lots of bike commuting and mellow rides but can’t seem to muster enthusiasm for racing or training in the “red zone” as Charly Mottet once called it. I can’t figure out whether I’m turning the corner and shifting to a more casual riding mode, or whether the coals will flame up again. I guess time will tell. Did manage to accomplish some modest running goals in the fall, and had fun gently heckling my friends at a few local CX venues.

    In other ways, though, it was a very good year, not so different from Jesus from Cancun’s. My son learned to ride his bike, we’ve shifted up a cog or two as a family, I’ve made some advances professionally, and I’ve had a lot of other very special moments as a parent. So no complaints — just a bit of minor cycling-related soul-searching. Am I headed for a carbon CX bike or a Surly Big Dummy? Stay tuned.

  23. Tom

    1615 miles in one year – >90% from commuting to and from work!! And, it was so freakishly nice on Jan. 1, I got in 20 miles!!!!

  24. Tom

    I neglected to mention the true highlight of the year – took the training wheels off my 5 year old son’s bike! He’s a rider!

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