Friday, January 8, 2010

Catching up on 2009

I was listening to some old broadcasts of This American Life recently and in one act of one of the episodes the correspondents from Planet Money (producers of a fabulous piece on the causes of the recession) interview an economic forecaster. Economic forecasting relies heavily on the output from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which issues not a set of results from previous fiscal quarters, but instead a three year series of estimates, each estimate revised since the previous one. In fact, results of what happened economically in this country back in the 1920s is still being revised today! Given that, I really don't feel quite so bad in waiting until January 8th to review my previous riding year.

A lot of people think reflecting on the last year is arbitrary in the segment of time being reviewed. Maybe so. I don't think it is so unreasonable really. Our year is a close but not exact measurement of the length of time it takes to travel once around the sun, one trip through all the seasons of a year. We re-adjust the tally when we have to and slip that re-adjustment into a part of the calendar where someone thought the rest of us might not mind so much. A lot of people, maybe some of the same people, don't think mileage is the best way to assess a riding year but it does provide starting place, and maybe it being a start and not an end to review makes it more palatable. In any case, here is the short form of the Executive Summary of last year: 8701 miles ridden. 8701 miles is not the most I've ridden in a year, nor is it the least, nor is it average. It is more than last year. My goal is to make it less than this year. I must admit something. Like the Bureau of Economic Analysis, I will likely be publishing a revision of that figure. I spent a couple hours last night updating my database, and doing some digging to find all the rides I forgot to record. I know there are some rides that are missing, and I'm pretty sure that what is there is honest and accurate, so the number is likely to go up once I finish searching.

Behind the number, in this case the number 8,701, are many details and memories. As 2008 came to a close and 2009 began, I really was not all that enthused about cycling. I still attempted to do the rides I had always done at that time of year, but without the preparation and foundation work, and as a result I struggled. I've no idea exactly what it was or exactly when it happened, but something fell solidly into place and I woke up from a cycling slumber. I was keen to plan rides again, keen to do them, and keen to photograph them and complete write ups. I followed through on this blog after a long layoff too. My intent was to document my thoughts on and memories of PBP 2007 and my preparation for PBP 2011. I did get a few write ups on the blog, but mainly I was pretty busy doing rides, paperwork for the San Francisco Randonneurs, and preparing for the next ride. Once in a while I would post updates on my progress on the RUSA R-12 award, but lately I sort of missed out on a few entries.

Below, I'll try to give a few thumbnail sketches of some of these rides, and perhaps do better in the near future with updating the blog on time.

Ride Date Distance Comments
SFR Lighthouse 200km 11-07-2009 200km We had a great turnout of over 60 riders for a late fall brevet. The weather was not so bad, and traffic was light. I rode much of the route with Bruce Berg, until he chose to stop in Point Reyes Station. Wind is always a factor on the Piont, but this trip it really didn't seem to be as troublesome as usual.
Oakland Hills to Willow Park 11-26-2009 60 miles This was an impromptu Grizzly Peak Cyclists ride and we had a pretty good turnout. I often combine this route with an early start so as to get a longish ride in and still be home by 11am or noon.
Mt. Tam via SF 11-28-2009 75 miles This route was a repeat of my annual birthday ride. This day though, only Bruce Marchant was riding with me. It was cool most of the day, but it was still worth it to ride. We stopped at Grilly's in Mill Valley and to my surprise, the burrito was much better than other recent meals there. Bikes and burritos. How can you beat that combo.
Del Puerto Canyon 12-05-2009 106 miles This is one of my favorite routes. While the Central Valley portion can be less fun, once the route hits Del Puerto Canyon road, you realize it is worth the prelude. We had a big turnout for the ride, much larger than normal for this club ride. 18 riders I think. I ended up being the de facto ride leader when someone, no names, forgot their riding shoes at home. I had a lot of trouble keeping up on the flats with a really fast group, but once we hit the hills I managed to catch and pass a few riders. Hot tea at the Junction Cafe braced me for the last 25 miles on Mines where the wind picked up and the temps dropped to the low 40s. More than one rider needed to be picked up at the Junction, which is pretty unusual.
Del Puerto Canyon 200km 12-19-2009 200km This was my last 200km needed to complete my R-12. A rough storm the week before split the group of 16 that was going to ride together on the 12th, and our group of five did the ride on the 19th, and without the high incidence of flat tires the early group suffered. We had wicked fog on Corral Hollow, low fog in the Valley and sunshine once we approached the big climb on Del Puerto Canyon. The sunshine lasted about 20 miles as we rode into the clouds once again on the Mines Road return. Our group had a nice post ride meal at the ale house in Pleasanton, to cap off a really nice day on the bike shared with a good group of riders.
Mt. Tam Again 12-26-2009 80 miles A repeat of the previous repeat, this time with Greg Merritt and Todd Teachout. Boy those guys made me work, but I'm happy I got out on this ride. The long weekend coming up for New Years turned out to be remarkably free of any rides I could do. Rain and a bout of poison oak kept me off the bike until January 3rd.

So there you go, a few of the rides that concluded 2009 and totalled 8,701 miles. Unlike last year at this time, I am now pretty excited about the possibilities of the coming year on the bike. I made a resolution that I'd ride more miles in 2010, but the reason behind those more miles was to ride more with riders I've never ridden with, and more with riders I haven't ridden with in way too long, and none of it would come at the expense of equaling the miles I rode with friends in 2009. Here's to 2010.

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