I ain’t fast, suck at hills, don’t have a ton of followers, or a fancy bike, but I git ‘er done. Different parts hurt and I’m plum tuckered out most days. So mebbe a forced break’s a-comin’. Or mebbe not. I Just Keep Pedalin’.
Thing is, I didn’t plan on this streak. I just one day realized that if I rode a little bit every day, it might be easier than a long ride every few days. And like my other streaks (yoga for 7+ years and walking, writing and virtually no flour each for 3+ years), at some point, a little voice started saying “Don’t Break The Chain.” It’s a little phrase attributed to Jerry Seinfeld writing jokes every day for a year, which he said wasn’t true. But it’s still a good handle for a challenge.
In a world where half a million Americans have now died of COVID-19, millions of Texans were without power for most of a week during the bitter cold snow and ice storm, and some still have no water or water damage. Plenty of other injustice continues: price gouging, racism, white supremacy, homophobia, sexism, unemployment, poverty, and climate change just to name a few. I know it really matters very little what one zaftig mid-aged bicycle dude in Austin did in his bike. Yet, life goes on. Content must be created, stories must be told, and horns must be tooted. So since you’re here, it’s like the Buddhist path: once started, may as well finish.
To commemorate my birthday I’ve gone on longer bike rides for the last few years. Last year it was cold and rainy, so I only got in part of it, and went for the full distance a week later. But I still managed to git ‘er done. This year, the weather was dry and hot with a high of 99 F. Despite the heat, I wore a mask the entire time I was near friends or other riders. It’s a bloody pandemic that’s killed a million people, people! Here’s a short report with photos for your enjoyment, edification, education, etc.
Professional cycling’s biggest event was rescheduled from July to begin August 29, thanks to you know what. A few other pro racers have happened, and so there is hope Le Tour will start, and end, without problems. Of course there are always problems; it’s the nature of sport. Last year’s edition saw a huge storm blow up the last few stages with a landslide and flooding caused by snow and rain. This year is no different, except it’s completely different, again, thanks to coronavirus. Here are 10 changes and what to expect in 2020 with some of my commentary.
At 5:47 PM on Sunday, August 2, 2020, I headed out on Sophie my trusty Fairdale after an appointment I had ridden six miles to get to. I thought I’d put in another 14 miles to make it another 20 for the day. But in the back of my mind was the thought, “I’ve got several 150-mile weeks in a row under my belt. If I stop now, I’ll break that chain.” And if you know A Dude, you konw he likes to #DontBreakTheChain (first noted in Jerry Seinfeld & The Juiceman Can Teach Us About Making Healthy Choices (Day 2). There had been a little rain to cool things down, I was feeling a little better, and as the title says, I found my 40-miler legs. Sounds easy right? Maybe I make it seem that way, but nope, it’s never easy. Allow me to explain.
Another month, another milestone. My bicycling has been a daily affair for some time now, and I’ve kept that streak alive. And that has made keeping my numbers consistently up from last year. I don’t want to leave big numbers to do at the end of 2020, and long rides aren’t a great idea in case of breakdowns or injuries. So I’m out there daily putting up the numbers. As I often do at the end of a month, I like to look at the statistics, so this is what this blog is about. No fake news here! Just A Dude’s journey by bike (non-motorized) through the streets of Austin, Texas.
It’s hard to not write about the elephant in the room when it’s far, Far FAR! bigger than that. Coronavirus is like sunlight, or water — except that it’s poisonous for many, and deadly for some. There are I’m sure much more eloquent attempts to explain and interpret what’s going on. After all, I’m just A Dude who rides a bicycle and blogs about it. My tiny corner of the internet is just one example of something a few humans think is kinda cool, or interesting, or important, but in reality is not. It’s frivolous, navel-gazing distraction.
And yet, we each do what we can to cope, to survive, and maybe again even to thrive. So I’m writing this blog. And it occurred to me that maybe I’ve learned a few lessons from biking 100-175 miles a week for 22 weeks in a row that might help me and you get through this. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (I’m not really suggesting you do that; please don’t.)
Oops, I did it again! I beat last year by 490 miles! (See 2018’s recap at 5,143 Miles in 2018: 4,554 Biking + 589 Walking. Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Good for A Dude!) Almost all of that difference, 452 miles, was by bike. It came down to the wire, too, since I didn’t make it until the last day of the year. Seeing how my beginning goal was 4,000 miles by bike, adding another 1,000 — most of it (712) in December alone — was a ton of hard work every day. Let’s take a look at the numbers. You may find them instructive, interesting, or maybe even inspirational. Or another word starting with the letter I. And remember, there’s no I in team, but there is meat. Mmm… meat.
No clip in shoes. No shorts (well, no padded shorts; I may do my small part to Keep Austin Weird, but my mother didn’t raise no idiot). Just started doing errands and since conditions were perfect I Just. Kept. Pedaling. I had several extended stops as is obvious from the elapsed time, including getting refreshments, soaking up the sun (sitting on a park bench) sending emails, two short meetings plus a stop at home to recharge my lights and Garmin vivoactiv hr watch.
Still, I was pretty happy to meet my goal, even if I was a week late due to the rain, wind and cold on my actual birthday. And it was pretty good for a 9-speed heavy steel bike with non-skinny tires. I didn’t even have to get out of the saddle and stand up on the pedals on the very steep Highland Hills Drive, either. I probably could have kept going, but as the farmer said to the pig in the movie Babe, “That’ll do. That’ll do.”
I wasn’t planning that much bicycling. Yet there were places to go, things to do. I had no car to use, and a dislike of the bus. It was yet another in a string of 100-degree plus day. However, I knew I could stop in air conditioned places. Most importantly, I felt I had good legs. With that confidence, I headed out into the swamp that is Austin, Texas in August.