Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Lucky Day: No Snow as Far as the Eye Can See

As the latest Snowpocalype devastated our southern neighbors, we were blissfully spared her wrath. So while my Facebook feed filled with images of shovelers up to their waists in snow, I took to the roads to enjoy a brisk afternoon along the icy Hudson River. It's a bit late in the month to be riding a permanent route that I'm hoping to apply towards a P-12 award, so my nerves were percolating this week as the forecast for a snowstorm of Biblical proportions intensified. Having missed a P-12 award last year (presented by RUSA to riders who complete at least one permanent route between 100K and 200K each month for twelve consecutive months), I am determined to finish what I began this past October.

The sky was a lovely crystalline blue this afternoon and the ambient temperature hovered around freezing. With a slight 5-10 mph wind out of the northwest, any extra work was front-loaded into the first half of the ride as I made my way north to Red Hook. Along the way, I stopped at a waterfront park managed by Scenic Hudson, our local Hudson River preservation champions who had recently created a small teaching area right at the water's edge. The sign above is a helpful reminder of where we stand relative to our neighbors and my proximity to the river allowed me to see not only the historic lighthouse off in the distance, but also the various ice formations arriving at long last from the north.

The roads were generally quiet today, but there was some pedestrian activity at the Bard campus with students returning from winter break and in Rhinebeck, which always seems to enjoy a festive atmosphere. As I followed the riverside roads south of the village, though, I was often the only one in sight for long stretches, which suited me just fine. Perhaps the storms to our south kept the tourists and weekend warriors closer to home today. Even the Walkway Over the Hudson was quieter than usual for a Sunday in January. As a result, there were not many witnesses to see the magnificent ship being pushed northward by a strong tug as it made its way beneath the span on which I stood. While I completed the route successfully, in February I'll be sure to plan my P-12 ride in the first half of the month assuming the weather cooperates.

Friday, January 1, 2016

As 2015 Ends: My Festive 500 Recap

For the fifth year in a row, I've rung in the New Year by participating in a global cycling challenge sponsored by Rapha known as the "Festive 500." The premise is simple, log a minimum of 500 kilometers between Christmas and New Year's Eves and post evidence of your progress on Strava, Instagram, Twitter, etc. This year over 61,000 riders signed on (or at least clicked the "join challenge" button on Strava) yet fewer than 10,000 completed the challenge successfully.

As with most endurance training, it wasn't the distance on the bike that made the challenge so difficult, but rather finding the time to log the miles. Fortunately, my work schedule is very light at this time of year, but with my daughter home from college and various houseguests and holiday parties to contend with this week, I wasn't sure that a full day in the saddle would go over so well. As a result, I planned to get out for medium-sized rides over the course of five or six days. Unfortunately, I didn't follow the classic randonneuring strategy of front-loading my riding distance as a precaution against the unexpected. As a result, when a curveball arrived to derail my plans, I found myself with 250 kilometers left to ride in the final two days. Luckily, the weather (thanks to climate change and El Nino) cooperated so we were blessed with mild temperatures for most of the week and I was able to complete the challenge without too much difficulty.

What I really love about the timing of this challenge is that it falls after a time of rest and recovery just as planning for the year ahead begins in earnest. Reflecting on the past year and planning for the one to come are best done sitting in the saddle of a bicycle, so most of my hours on the bike this week involved remembering the highlights of 2015 and fantasizing about what the future holds. 2015 was an incredible year. Work and family could not be better and I was finally able to conquer a major life goal by completing Paris-Brest-Paris and thereby symbolically and fully returning to randonneuring following my 2010 accident. I have exciting plans for the year ahead and am very grateful that 2016 has finally arrived. 

Keep the rubber side down.