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.
Does 167 miles seem like a long distance to ride your bicycle in a week? If not, and you can easily rattle off that distance in a single day, then this post (and blog) will probably bore you. Good on you! Thanks for stopping by and not being all judgy. (LikeRootchopper, currently doing 300+ miles per week on his big ass No Name Tour.) Does 167 miles in a week seem impossible? Well, if so, this may also not be for you. Of course you’re welcome to come along for the virtual ride.
But what if you’re in between those extremes and have ridden 100 miles in a week before? Maybe you’re thinking, “Hmm, if this middle-aged fathlete (who isn’t the typical skinny cyclist stereotype) can put up some pretty big numbers, then I wonder if I can, too?” Well, this is for you.
I found a picture of both Sookie and Sophie, my two bikes. (A third bike is elsewhere; that one was ridden pre-blog/Strava.) The photograph was taken at a community event sponsored by Bike Austin that I helped with. It was attended by several dozen people concerned about bike lanes and sidewalks on two busy and dangerous roads and Austin City Councilmember Greg Casar in April of 2017. Why on earth did I have two bikes at the same event? Well, former BA Campaigns Manager Miller Nuttle forgot his bike, so needed to borrow mine. Something inspired me to snap this shot, and I really like it alot. With the recent news about Sookie, the Fuji Silhouette (left) having a fatal crack in her frame, causing me to have to ride Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer all the time, it got me thinking more about my journey. Keep reading to hear more about this passing of the torch.