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.