Friday Group Ride #199

It is no secret that 2013 was a tough year here at RKP. From the post-percussions of Padraig’s crash to the somewhat dramatic Entrance of the Deuce, it was a year in which we never quite got on top of the gear.

Personally, I close the year off the bike, nursing a hand injury that doesn’t seem to want to heal under the stress of regular riding. They say time heals all wounds, but HOW MUCH time? How much?

Here on RKP, we both struggled to stay on top of things as family and outside projects vied for our attention. The Lance-amageddon took the wind out of the top level of our sport, and slumping bike sales led to a troubling conservatism among potential RKP advertisers. To work so hard and still face such uncertainty leaves you wondering about your life choices, except that there are no other choices to make.

We do our work as best we can, and we see where it takes us. Put another way, there will be chaos, keep pedaling.

All of this is not to say there weren’t bright spots. After the Deuce’s exit from hospital, he turned out to be a smiley, happy baby with a charming disposition. Padraig’s handsome mug healed, and, through the Beer Fund, you, our readers showed us what kind of community we belong to, both out on the road and here on the internet.

It wasn’t a bad year. It was just a tough one, a personal Roubaix if you will, hard in ways we never might have imagined, but ultimately glorious and rewarding for the effort.

This week’s Group Ride, the last of the year, the last of the second hundred, looks back on 2013. How was yours? What were the highs? What were the lows? How did the bike feature in your story? And what are you looking forward to in 2014?

Image: Matt O’Keefe

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  1. Peter Leach

    Looking back on 2013, the lows are easy – my version of Padraig’s crash and the difference in time between my return to physical health and my on-going recovery of pre-crash brain function. The highs are not so easy, but if the crash is a low point, then my recovery is a high point. Along with that goes the increasingly frequent high points of rides where I once again feel that I’m riding instinctively, responding to terrain without really thinking about it, and passing on to the world my enjoyment. Why is it that so many people are surprised when a cyclist says: “Hello” as they pass.
    Looking forward to 2014, I’m preparing for my seventh ride in the Tour Down Under Challenge stage and riding more with my wife.
    Yes, there will be chaos and I will keep pedalling.
    Ride forever.

  2. Ashley Irving

    This year was interesting. It started off with me doing a ton of races, traveling almost every weekend for some bike-related event. The end of June I got married so therefore that was some time off the bike. Three weeks after I was able to do a couple of final races before moving overseas.

    Living on a tropical island leaves no room for complaining, yet there’s no racing whatsoever, especially the time of year we moved there. I’ve gotten my competitive notions in play a bit via strava but that’s all. No racing when I’m back in the US for the holidays either.

    That said, I’m in the best shape ever, given that I can ride almost every day and throughout the year. I have a long term goal of being in great shape when we move back so I can finally get some decent race results, but we’ll see.

  3. brucew

    This was my eighth year of cycling, returning after 35 years of smoking and sedentary living. There was a lot of inertia to overcome, and this year I finally felt past it.

    First, in June I became the first male in three generations—on either side of my family—to make it to 56 without having a heart attack. That alone seems like a supreme conquest.

    Second, just before that birthday, I experienced for the first time what it’s like when “form” comes on.

    After seven years of struggling, suddenly not only did everything become easy, I could sprint faster, climb steeper and longer grades, and ride the entire day through effortlessly. On club rides it was an amazing thing to find myself pedaling lightly at the head of the fast group instead of struggling mightily and still falling off the back of the slow group.

    On the bad news side, I also discovered “form” wanes as mysteriously as is waxes. (But also discovered it comes back again.)

    Second, three weeks ago I broke a seven year, five month string of 1,596 consecutive workdays round-trip bike commuting. One Tuesday called for light flurries in the mid-afternoon, and snow accumulating after 10pm. I get out of work at 7pm. No problem.

    I took the commuter with the road tires instead of the commuter with the studded snow tires. Snow began in earnest six hours early at 4pm. Four inches were on the ground, unplowed, when it came time to leave work. The bike rode home in the back of my boss’s pick-up.

    The worst part wasn’t breaking the string. I have somewhere between 11 and 14 years to retirement, so I can still break that 1,596-day record.

    No, the worst part was riding along in the truck, watching the road, and picking the lines I’d take if I’d had the snow tire bike. I’d have killed it, and probably gotten home faster than the pick-up got me there. I really missed that ride.

    Still, it drove home for me that it’s not just words. I really do ride every day for the pure joy of doing it.

  4. Aar

    Mine was a year in which I recognized how fortunate I am. In February, I mildly separated my shoulder in a MTB crash. Shortly after recovery from that setback, I contracted bronchitis which went improperly diagnosed for three months – along the way, I learned that I do have a drug allergy. So, my 2014 season got started in August 2013. Nonetheless, my mileage total for the year was 85% of a good year although my pace was way down and I didn’t even start a single event on my goal list. Regardless, I am fortunate to be healthy, well along the way to decent cycling form and having fun. Many others do not have luxuries like these. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2014 with smooth tarmac for all!

  5. JPrumm

    2013 was one of the hardest years for me I can remember. I lost 19 fellow hotshots in June. Then after coming back from their memorial a few days latter while on a fire in Idaho I got a call that my mother was dying and I needed to get to her quickly. A few weeks latter after burying my mother another death on a fire we were on. The end of the fire season couldn’t come fast enough. With the loss of 34 firefighters this season we needed a break.

    What I have found for myself is besides my family the bike is always waiting for me when I come home. I feel very blessed to live the life many don’t have the opportunity to live. I am still trying to figure out a new normal for my life and truly be grateful for my blessings.

    RKP is a daily stop for me and you all seam to be very ground individuals. I feel a kinship with many of the stories you all publish. Thanks for being a constant in my life.

  6. Davo

    My wrinkles convey a sizable accumulation of good and bad memories. I have sent off years with tears of regret, while other years passed with tears of joy.

    This was a year where I found myself questioning the very existence of right and wrong. I doubted the principles my parents had taught me, and that I had taught my own children. I didn’t like the way I was thinking; I feared what that thinking might do to who I am.

    Aside from a rare brief respite, my year was all uphill with a relentless headwind. Cycling was my escape, my joy. When a season ending injury hit me in the middle of my cyclocross season, I just shrugged my shoulders. I was beaten.

    I was returning to riding with soggy, grey base miles and pretending to be excited for Christmas. With almost no warning, our year turned around. Right and wrong returned to their respective sides of the line and truth triumphed over lies and greed. I am not a rich man, but I am too old to start over a third time.

    Good news followed good news to the point of being funny. The kind of funny where you laugh for twenty seconds, then cry as the relief exits your body any way it can.

    Sometimes on a climb while your head is down and you are pedaling hard you reach the top without even knowing you were close.

    Downhills are fun !

    Keep pedaling.

  7. Patrick O'Brien

    2013 was pretty nice overall. Those nagging injuries have been an issue though. My back and right hip seemed to be the latest problem. Soft tissue injuries require time to heal, and that tests my patience more every year.
    I am looking forward to more bike miles in 2014, and my first century if all goes well.

  8. Derek

    I am sorry for your year and the losses sustained but without you folks the fires would have been much worse. Thank you for your sacrifice and efforts during this past year. They will not be forgotten.

  9. Author

    @JPrumm – I would echo Derek’s sentiments, and also thank you for putting the difficulties some of the rest of us have into more clear perspective.

    @Patrick O’B – My soft tissue injuries (multiple) are currently keeping off the bike, off my feet, out of the gym, off the yoga mat, and quite possibly, if they don’t heal sooner rather than later, out of my mind. So I empa(sympa)thize.

    May 2014 bring a bit more solidity where currently there is only pain and swelling.

  10. Souleur

    mine started off with T-boning a car, losing my love sophie, a reparto corse Boron steel Bianchi. She gone….as they say.

    So, seeing the trajectory i was taking, that being in may, needing to find form, and not, I lay a base the remaining year, and took it off.

    I hope for better form, soundness of mind, and keeping the rubber side down this year. I hope to do more graveleur riding/races, a few mtb races and hope to be respectful in the masters cat….

    hope for 14, and in a new year, thats enough

  11. Josef

    @BruceW — your words struck a chord. I’m only in my first year back on wheels, but also after 30-ish years of smoking and laziness. Form really does wax and wane mysteriously. My hope for 2014 is that it becomes less mysterious, and I can do more of what makes form wax and less of what makes it wane.

  12. mike c

    The bike was the catalyst for meeting her and inviting her out. She was and is perfect in every sense. We’re great friends.
    As you can tell, that was my high for 2013.
    The low. The time I took an unnecessarily long ride and missed her grandson’s birthday party. That began a string of bike related missteps I made which led to the split.
    Well, yesterday was the first day of the New Year and the first time I’ve made that ride since that day over six months ago. It was cold, windy and raining through the 46 miles of ups and downs of the terrain and my emotions.
    Like your hand that refuses to heal, no amount of riding has healed this cut. Either way, the bike awaits, so I’ll keep putting in the miles. I’ve got nothing else to do….

  13. forrestranger

    All of the above comments really demonstrate how soft I am. At the start of 2013, I found myself in a (relative) downward descent in life: had to move to a less than pleasant locale, consequently forced to take a huge pay cut, and liquidate many of my belongings. But, on the plus side, I now have the best fitness ever, though I am missing the old events and fellow competitors that I am used to racing. And, unlike many others, I’ve had (never) any injuries. That’s a plus for sure. Now that I’m in 2014, several realizations have become apparent; Adderal makes one climb like a divine being and inheriting a small estate is kick ass.

  14. Rob A

    @Robot, I’m way late to the game here, but I love the picture. I have one standing on the t-rex from a few weeks ago. I generally try to avoid riding my bike on that road, but it’s still great to see some pics from the area!

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