Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

At the Close of Another Year

While there are yet a few weeks left in 2016, a space of a few hours opened up today because Sharon is not  back from a visit to her mother and the weather is not inviting for a Sunday Social pedal. As is true for many people, I often write based on how I feel. Our feelings inform our faith, politics, and relationships. The problem is, our feelings, mine included, are often wrong. In the worst case, we ignore facts and proceed as we feel. Sometimes, we acknowledge facts but try to shoehorn them into our feelings, instead of adjusting our perspective to the facts. Surely, my very few readers have seen examples of this from many sides during the recent political season. It happens in cycling too.
Despite being sure I was slower than ever, unable to climb a hill without an eBike assist and feeling like I *NEVER* ride anymore, the 2016 ride data says otherwise.

I rode at a FASTER average pace than anytime since 2011. The most climbing and most miles since 2012. More 100Ks than ever. And of course, I have pictures showing me smiling with a large variety of friends on rides all over 5 states. Here is my favorite:

 So, not so bad right? Aside from the fact that the extended cardio probably keeps my genetically sketchy (heart and circulatory issues run on both sides of my family) ticker working beyond its original service life, it elevates my mood, burns off untold bags of potato chips and allows me to enjoy the company of people I really like.

In my first year as the Regional Brevet Administrator for Alabama (that's with Randonneurs USA) our region put on 6 rides and attendance was good. 9 more are planned for 2017, including rides of 300KM and 400KM. I plan to ride all our 100KMs, one of our 200KMs and the 300KM. Depending on how I fare on the 300KM, I'll decide if I should try the 400KM (which is mostly in FL).  I also plan to ride several of the Alabama Backroads Century Series (ABCS) and other charity rides. I'll volunteer at the Montgomery Bike Club "Glassner Autumn Challenge" and ride the Tour Autauga in Prattville, the Restoration Ride in Alpine, the Cycling For Sight in Montgomery, Tri-States 100 in Dothan and the Children's Home ride in Talladega. I'll also pack my bike when I travel (after DST returns) and get in mid week miles mostly with the "Rome Rides A Bike" crowd. Other goals for 2017 include making cycling more widespread and more inclusive locally. We are pleased to have had more minority participation this year, but it's still a very caucasian recreation. Cycling is a unifier. We all look just as silly to outsiders in spandex no matter our politics, religion, accent, or skin color. Cyclists of all types stop to stand around and kibbitz while someone changes a flat tube. (Am I right?) Let's keep taking down barriers while we ride and then leave them down when off the bike. I'll be teaching a basic cycling course for the City of Prattville in the Spring. Hopefully, we'll get some kids and parents off to a safe start and on their bikes. The more people we have pedaling, the better it is for all people who pedal in terms of advocacy and popular mindset.

Although I've never worked as a school teacher, I think I have the same feelings at year end that they do when students advance to the next grade, as another group of C riders moves up to B or faster. I am glad to graduate my "students" but sad to lose their regular company on rides. We still connect from time to time of course when more than one pace group is on the same ride. That is, I miss them until the first of the next crop shows up at a ride! Frankly, the thing I love best about riding is introducing cycling (hopefully SAFE cycling) to new riders each year. Comfort bikes are traded in or sold as people upgrade to clip in pedals, faster rigs with battery powered shifters, lots of carbon, and generally support the cycling business. I still ride the same lugged steel bikes with old school drivetrains and somehow get to where I want to go. "I may not be fast but I am comfortable" is still my tag line. I am pleased to think that after my pedaling days have ended, (hopefully not in the NEAR future!) there will be riders who remember a short old guy in wool who rode in unpadded shorts on leather saddles and was still able to help them adjust the cleats on their clip-ins or get a larger cog cassette to work on the shifter they already had instead of buying new.

Cycling remains a great opportunity to spend quality one to one time with people as we pedal. I hear personal stories and we share ideas as we share the experience. In many cases, it has been a ministry opportunity as well. Speaking of one to one, I smile to think of the couples who have either met on our Sunday social ride or for who the rides have played a role in their relationship. An engagement was just announced last week. There has already been a wedding and a number of current dating pairs. I won't name names, but you all know who you are and you make me happy to be included in your circle of cycling friendship. There are others who I ride with that I just love like sisters and brothers.

I hope to see some of you on a ride soon.

Merry Christmas, and a safe and happy 2017

tailwinds always.

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