2022 in review: Cycling

This year, I rode ~320 days, covering 13500km, climbing 120km. Those are up significantly from last year. On weekdays, I ride about 1hr going 25-30km. Saturday, 100-140km. Sunday, I do a relaxing ride for 1-2 hours. Those are my routines.

In last year’s review, I wrote that I want to join a local cycling club. I did just that this March, except the gathering was less formal. Every Saturday morning at 8:30am, 10-ish people gather. We ride about 100km, then have coffee breaks.
The relationships I built through this group became very meaningful to me. From young to old, covering both genders, I love that the group consists of a diverse set of people. They all choose to spend a significant part of Saturday every week with the group. That’s something. These are perhaps the first real pure friends that I made in my adulthood.
As I get to know some of them better, I can have progressively more meaningful conversations with them. Sometimes, I develop some things I’d like to tell them. The process of getting to know people is so fulfilling. I get to do that, slowly, with so many people here. I love it.
Riding with a group also expanded my riding skills. In a group ride, people behind you can’t see ahead, so you need to be their eyes. You do that by communicating. Turns, cars ahead & behind, brakes, and obstacles on the road. Where cars would have used lights, we use hand signals and our voices.

In autumn, I had the opportunity to experience a proper formation ride, in which a group of riders form an arrow that cuts through the air, taking turns to be the arrowhead. I was able to cover the vast distance at such speed that I wouldn’t be able to maintain it if I were riding solo. This was exhilarating — individuals dissolve and form a larger unit. 1+1 becomes 3. There’s joy in that.
I developed a role in this group as a photographer. It’s such a joy to try to capture the moment. High speed descents. The suffering of climbing steep hills. Nature. Above all, I love when I get to capture the affection they show toward other group members.

In winter, I started drawing some of those pictures in my watercolor projects, and posting those to the group chat. That I get to show the work became motivating. Pictures and paintings have the power to redefine our shared memory after the fact.

I also randomly discovered that my neighbor across the street is a casual road bike rider. I befriended him as well as his ride buddy. We went out for rides several times.
On my own, I took on the challenge to ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, covering 940km over one week. Unfortunately, I caught COVID on day 4 and was forced to retire. This was such a disappointment, I signed up for next year’s ride on the spot. Next year, I shall prevail. I also participated in my first road race. I got dropped behind in no time, but that was very humbling and inspirational. I’d like to try it again, and this time I hope to stick around a little longer.
I have continued the weekly climbing of the ~750m mountain. You might think going the same route every week can get boring quickly, but what I found instead is that nature changes subtly every week. Seasons, time of the day, weather, … I learned to appreciate that.
I wonder what the next year will hold for my cycling. I don’t really have any hard objectives nor goals. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of anything new that I can bring in. My physical abilities are pretty much maxing out. I can’t imagine spending more time. I’ve ridden all the major roads within the 100km radius.
But I’m pretty confident I’ll keep riding. Let’s see where it takes me. I’m excited.

comments powered by Disqus