November 12, 2020

Another End-Of-Summer, Fall... Post

... But, this time it's 2020 ...  (sigh)

I'm not going to say much about it here.  Why add to the noise?  Until this whole thing blows over, I'm basically sticking to my original plans to limit contact with people as much as possible.  

It's not you, it's me.  (<-- cool, I finally get to say that to someone!)

It's not ALL bad news, however.  Outdoor activity here is alive and well, and my bike store friends are calling it "the great bike boom of 2020", something we've all been secretly wishing for ... but certainly would have preferred under better circumstances.  I can't even get inner-tubes right now!  

(gawd, he STILL uses inner-tubes?)

Among all the bad news out there, at least some industries are set to thrive for a long time.  When it blows over, the FB Marketplace and garage-sale market for bikes and parts is going to be IN-SANE.  Time to rebuild the stable with some solid beaters.... yissss

See, silver linings abound... patience...

For my own outdoor activity, I'm focusing on trying new things this year.  The daily commutes to/from the office - obviously - are long gone, the panniers packed away, replaced with a steady cadence of lunchtime rides instead.  A lot of additional motivation has been provided by various virtual challenges, helping keep me focused (distracted) and staying active.  On the weekends, I've fallen into a decent habit of longer rides ... and while I did grab one 200km back in May, I've pulled back and embraced the 100km distance.  Further, in the absence of RUSA rides for the majority of the year, it has been deeply satisfying to stray off the beaten path, discover a lot of new roads, and - ahem - steer clear of the usual string of c-stores, the usual pockets of traffic, and see some new horizons.  

100km.  I always sorta poo-pooed that distance, and I'm not sure why.  I was definitely a 200km junkie.  There was a lot of chatter in the forums surrounding the permanent's program earlier this summer that unleashed opinions about what does and does-not constitute a "real" randonneur.  Depending on the perspective, well.... I am not, and never will be, a randonneur.  That's fine.  Much like the stigmas about bike racing .. and how much it costs to be "competitive" these days, apparently I don't clear enough annually to be a "cyclist" at all by some definitions, which is also fine .. and that's assuming I have the physique or the genetic talent to look like or perform like a racer in the first place.  Zipp wheels?  I still doubt I've spent that much on all of the wheels I've ever had built up.  Also fine.  I'm dancing around a lot of highly-charged social commentary here, but ... in general ... people will continue to divide themselves, even as I am doing here.  I don't belong anywhere, and so I separate myself even more to make sure that I don't.  I'm getting too old to lose any sleep about "fitting in" anyhow, even though I'd like to.  I'll just say it, as much as it has become a "necessary evil" in our society, social media certainly doesn't help.  Comments like, "those aren't real bike-packing bags", "that's not a rando frame", and "that's not very fast"... and those "what the ___ are you doing here on THAT bike" looks in the group ride parking lot before the start ... yeah, I'm good.  This isn't a "better than thou" statement ... though if I have to type that.... HAHA... maybe it is ... but many riders I've encountered lately seem to still be preoccupied with pointing out differences instead of simply accepting them and trying to learn from their surroundings.  I just wanna ride my bike.  That's ultimately all we're doing, right?  We all want the same things, right?  

Morrissey seems to get it.  I'm okay by myself.  I don't need the draft, the noise, the politics, the hatred, or the attitude ... even though, yes, I'm slathering on a thick attitude here just by bringing any of this up.  Nice and cozy, hiding behind the keyboard again.

It isn't always sunshine and roses, no.  And, yeah... I suppose I AM degrading into "grumpy old man" mode.  Or is it "angry, middle-aged jerk-face"?  Depends on when you catch me, I guess.  I've been called worse, for sure.

Maybe I've got it all wrong ... again.

Compared to years past, in 2020 it does seem that cyclists DO, finally, wave back.  Almost universally, at least in this small slice of the world I see lately.  I think maybe we all sorta realize how lucky and fortunate we are to have the freedom to do what we do, and that by cycling -- in all of its forms -- we are overcoming the toils of this particularly nasty year, separately, but somehow together.  A nod, a tip of the cycling cap, or a full-on, arms-up wave.  I've seen it from kids on the sidewalk, the hybrid riders, the racers, and the weekenders.  Helmets, no helmets, mountain, road, e-bike (grumble).  We've all waving back.  It's nice.  We're all trying to improve ourselves or just escape.  We're all out riding a bike ... no matter what that looks like.  We've either been doing it for 2 weeks, 2 years, or 2 decades.

Especially since I am struggling with a cycling identity crisis of late, I'm down for waving at EVERY-body.  That previously-mentioned ugliness that popped up in the forums earlier this year, the more I think about it the more upset I get.  Most times, those hiding behind their keyboards do NOT represent majority thinking, myself included ... but, that fact aside, when you are already comfortably identifying within a niche of a niche, well... maybe there shouldn't be any loose stones laying around in this particular garden, eh?  No matter how you define "randonneur", one does not climb Everest without first learning to climb the hill behind their house.  We should spend a bit more time giving one another a chance, and less trying to sort ourselves into boxes.

Whoof, so 100km ... Besides being long enough to satisfy any distance itch I might have, it has served keep my weekends a little more open, allowing more time for around-the-house projects that I've been ignoring for years now.  Now that I'm stuck in with DIY projects, my brain is being exercised in new ways, and my confidence is growing new roots in more diverse areas.  I think for a while there, I was using the bike to avoid such things.  Chicken.  I've grown a bit in the last couple of years, if nothing else.  Now I ride for the health benefits, for the mental benefits, and to get out of this increasingly over-populated suburban deathtrap for a few hours.  Perhaps before I was riding to prove something else?  I dunno ... not enough space here, but I have thought about it.  I still enjoy it, love it, but it is nice in some ways to not "need" it quite as much as I once had.  That's progress.

All told, I will likely continue to stack 100km rides ... even as the weather turns, and various bikes go into dry-dock for maintenance, we have also embraced the interesting novelty of Zwift and indoor riding.  WHAT?  The dude?!?  Say it isn't so!   

Oh, c'mon.... it's training!

Well, it seems to help anyways ... weights, treadmill, core, stretching, and yes -- indoor mileage.  Since my personal Achilles heel on brevets always seems to be long, flat stretches of road with seemingly no end, well.... Zwift has already started to pay back a little.  I mean, if nothing else, it is NOT comfortable.  Those guys that did a virtual RAAM this year?  COME ON MAN.... I think that might actually be more difficult than the real thing.  So, if I've gotten into the habit of watching football games from the saddle, instead of from behind a bag of chips ... that's 3+ hours of really long, numbing, uncomfortable slog on a really, really long flat road.  It's working.  It's all about the mental game.  Because yeah, I want to be halfway through a 600km ride in a few years and be able to say "hey, at least we're not stuck on an indoor trainer for this long!"  Those little "I've had worse" nuggets HELP.

With that, HA.... "Thanks, George!"  <-- you know who you are...  apparently I have 15 more 100kms to go this year if I want to claim a sticker that says "Ultra 100km" or somesuch... better get to it.  Hey, that sticker means a LOT right now, pal.  LOL

It has been, and continues to be, a remarkable year.  

Yeah, I can't wait until all of these bothers are behind us ... but, I have to remember that, historically, humanity comes out of adversity with a newfound appreciation for nearly everything.  While 2020 was supposed to have been "the year" for a lot of things, it is impossible to say what our collective redirection yet means in a larger, longer sense.  

Only time will tell.   

My personal timidity will change with time, certainly; but for now I am keeping things safe and distanced.  I don't lose very much in that scenario - nothing I can't deal with, anyhow.  In another few months, things will begin to look progressively brighter for everyone, and then it will legitimately feel "right" to return to what we love ... no matter what that looks like at an individual level.  

For now, stay safe, take care of each other, and ... yeah, maybe start a blog?  

Never know.  

Maybe I'm not as weather-hearty as I used to be, but Zwift sure is nice when it's just miserable outside.

Who let the cows out? 

Where we measure time, and distance, in centuries

Variety is good ... although I'm not ready for 100km on FOOT, a half-marathon might do here and there.
Walking ... we're not completely crazy.  These knees can't take that anymore.

Where ya been ridin' lately?

Hidden treasures

No longer hunting for R-12 this year ... just out collecting old bridges and schoolhouses.

Long distance in 2020 ... "Just add water."

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