Seems most of my posts are about great epic rides I've done so I thought being Dec 31st, it was time to look back on 2011. As usual for this time of year, I'm sure we're going to see posts where people list their miles ridden which is great...however, these threads really don't prompt any meaningful comments other than, "wow, that's a lot" or "gee, I need to ride more...". I mean sure, I rode a TON of miles this year, more than any year in the past. But the miles are but one byproduct of riding; almost a surrogate variable for the other things gained as a result of sitting atop our bikes. So, I'd like to mention the other things gained this year as a result of that time investment.
1. New friends: I've met some really great people this year through riding that are not only fantastic riders and athletes, but really good, honest people. The kind that would give you the shirt off their back (or a tube out of their pack). I am truly thankful that our common interests have resulted in friendships that will last a long time. I look forward to sharing more miles with them.
2. Sense of Accomplishment: We all have our ways of getting that sense of accomplishment be it through our careers, family, etc. I certainly benefit in those two areas however, riding has given me something with seemingly no ceiling for improvement. When I think back a few years ago when I started back into riding, my goals at that point seemed unattainable... I marveled at people that could ride single speeds up mountains. Little by little, I was able to accomplish those goals. This year, I rode more 40+ mile rides than ever before and now feel cheated if a ride is < 20 miles. I did my first bikepacking trip during which I covered almost 110 miles in 2 days. My goal in 2012 is to do the AZT300 and do it in a respectable time.
3. Better family life: This may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, but having time to explore your interests truly makes us better the rest of the time.
4. Skills: One of the things I recognized as a weakness in my riding, was my bike handling skills. Although I still have a ways to go, I am descending faster with more confidence than before.
5. Endurance: I have to say, that I'm probably in the best endurance shape in my life...too bad it took me 46 years to get there! There is something very satisfying about suffering up a climb and feeling your legs recover very quickly. For me, this is probably only the second time in the past 3 years, where I've been at a point where it feels like the "pieces come together". I can ride hard, hour after hour, and my legs continue to respond. Truly a great feeling....
Finally, for those that read my ramblings, I appreciate it and look forward to sharing more of my adventures in 2012.