A year of serious cycling

After a few years post-broken hand cycling break, I started riding around on my new Surly Straggler at the start of the pandemic. Forest fires and a fear of the road led me to a lot of Zwift indoor riding, racing, and training that year. Once I started getting out on the road, and felt confident going up bigger hills, I didn’t want to get back on my trainer, and instead tried to find hours every day to explore the Bay Area on two wheels. I rode with a number of friends, like Drew, Salman, Haley, Andre, Sara, and Carlos over the course of 482 rides, but most were solo.

Riding alone with music or a podcast next to the ocean or in the hills around Oakland and Berkeley was the number one thing that has kept me mentally healthy in the past two years. A hard day at work? An hour of sweating and spinning my wheels around the city and my mind is clear and my heart is full. I am so glad I rediscovered cycling after a break, and I hope I get to keep it up for years to come.

The stats

Distance: 8,170.5km / 5077mi

Time: 403h 47m

Elev gain : 71,197m / 26,806ft

Flat tires: 4

Bikes purchased: 1 Specialized Allez Comp from Roland

What I learned

I learned a lot about how deep I can dig during a climb, and just how many carbs I really need not to bonk mid-ride. When I rode in earnest in Austin I was way younger, and a pack of cigarettes a day didn’t damage my ability to ride significantly, but in my late 30s, I need to watch my water and take rest days. Go figure.

I also learned it’s nice to go slow to the grocery store with a few panniers.

I got a lot faster this year, and a helluva lot more endurant, but only managed a few QOMs in Strava on sprint sections. I realized just how much I love the data I can get from a cycling computer, Strava, and a crank-arm power meter. 2005 fixed gear cycling Brook would be shocked at how much gear and kit I now own. She would also make fun of me for wearing stretchy clothes all the time. Luckily 2021 Brook embraced road cycling, chamois (and the cream), and being able to avoid the chafing that riding fixed-gears in jeans all day will give you.

Ah, the wisdom of age.

Plans for 2022

I started this year hoping for more time to dedicate to riding, and also the completion of a bike order I’d made in March of 2021. As of February 4th, my new bike is done, and I’m now the owner of a titanium road bike with a tubeless setup. It may not be the lightest or fastest bike, but it should last me for the rest of my life, which is pretty neat to consider.

If I can match or exceed the mileage and climbing from 2021, I’ll be pretty happy. I hadn’t ridden in earnest like that for years, so getting back to a base-level fitness was rough, but it paid off with so many smiles and gorgeous views.