I think we can all agree that 2020 was pretty rough. Many lost their jobs and loved ones. Our economy tanked. Businesses failed. Governments teetered on the brink. It felt like 1918 and 1930 combined.
An absolutely terrible year and it ain’t over yet. For all but a few of us, the worst in memory. So please forgive dear reader, this painful look into a past yet unhealed.
There were other declines to reckon with. In nearly every personal pursuit, 2020 pretty much sucked.
Mine’s cycling. So, how’d that work out? Not great. Most events, and all of the big ones were canceled. Dirty Kanza (now Unbound Gravel) was first postponed, then cancelled. The goblet would have to wait (was to be the 5th). Gravel Worlds went virtual. It was both disappointing and a relief. The right decision. But, it left a void in training resolve. Why suffer through all those miles now? What’s the point?
Paradoxically, cycling as a hobby enjoyed unprecedented success. People started riding their bikes. The benefits were immediate and obvious. Parents now spending quality time with their kids, instead of following their typically obsessive and harried schedules. Senior citizens and others (who look like they could use a little exercise) were now on the trail. Not just the typical hard core athletes. I welcomed them and offered encouragement. The trail is for everyone. The more the merrier.
A perfect pandemic activity. Tailor made for lockdown conditions. We can still ride while maintaining a safe distance. We can meet fitness goals (when so many others have gone awry) and blow off steam. It’s fun, cheap and anyone can do it.
Another silver lining, the pandemic induced conditions, i.e. isolation, schedule interruptions and travel restrictions opened up lots of free time. It offered the opportunity to work on weak areas of my game. Now that all rides are non-stop and solo, I can become adept at self-reliance. I learned how to carry more water, worked on electrolyte and caloric replenishment strategies. These are critical aspects in endurance cycling and areas I needed to improve.
As the year drew to a close a personal best in yearly total mileage was reached. A typical year is around 8K mi (12.8K). I’ve toyed with the 10K mi (16K km) mark for years, but due to injuries and travel was never able to get there. The yearly total reflects a commitment to a healthful lifestyle. It requires a focus on recovery and ancillary goals (rest, diet, etc.). It means being on track to ride well into the future, to enjoy its benefits for as long as possible.
Why I ride. I passed that previous yearly total by a fairly wide margin. But, exactly how far, or how fast, isn’t the point. It’s that we never stop.