What a fantastic way to end the old year and begin the new. The weather almost couldn’t have been designed better for cycling than what we’ve had in the last week. While it certainly is feasible to ride at all temperatures, something about 60 to 70 degrees is just putting icing on the cake.
Year end also gives us the opportunity to establish a reference point as to what we did on the bike and what we would like to do. Perhaps it serves as the basis for new year’s resolutions. What would you do differently in 2019 than you did in 2018?
I’ll share some of my resolutions. If you like, email me with some of your bicycle resolutions for the New Year.
Last year I rode just shy of 8,000 miles. I’ve been consistent with 8,000 to 9,000 miles per year for the last ten years. When I saw the total for last year, I was a bit disappointed — until I remembered I was traveling for five weeks last year. If I hadn’t gone on vacation, I’d have been right in the normal range.
So am I putting more miles on my resolution list? No. It’s not a mileage thing. But I would like to travel to some of the great cycling venues in the United States to see the country.
Perhaps the Man vs Machine ride in Arizona, where riders race 53 miles against a 300-ton steam engine from 1929. If I’m feeling particularly masochistic, maybe I’ll try the Newton’s Revenge ride, which has riders climbing up Mount Washington in New Hampshire — known for the coldest temps, highest wind speeds, and the greatest number of hiking deaths in the US.
On a more gastronomic ride, there is the Tour de Donut in Staunton, Ill., where the ride requires (?) scheduled donut stops. Last year’s winner downed 19 donuts during the ride. Of course how can anyone miss the zombie ride in Key West? Dress up as a zombie and ride your bike. How much better does it get?
On a more serious note: Closer to home, I resolve to pester the local authorities to accelerate the inclusion of bicycle riding as a legitimate transportation mode. This means bicycle lanes, passive education, and giving up the notion that bicycle riding is only a recreational hobby. More and more folks are using bicycles to go to work, run errands and generally avoid the nightmare of traffic congestion. A sidewalk is not a multi-use path; it doesn’t matter if the sidewalk is 12 feet wide.
I also resolve to engage the news media and the methods they use to marginalize people who ride bikes. University of South Florida researchers Julie Bond and Erin Sheffels used a scientific technique called “critical discourse analysis” in their review of 189 news reports of 94 bicycling deaths in Hillsborough County between 2009 and 2018—and discovered substantial bias.
News coverage was much more likely to be “thematic,” the study found, in hit-and-run deaths, because then the crash was seen as a crime. Sentence constructions were also subtly biased. The reporters often used passive construction to avoid singling out blame: “A bicyclist was hit by a car,” rather than “John Doe stuck the bicyclist with his car.” Speak up! Let the media hear and report the facts, not their anti-bicycle bias.
How about gear? Is it time to add some new items to the bike? Santa was very good to me, bringing me new cold-weather gloves, arm warmers and even a new helmet, but I’d like to add a new radar-activated rear light.
In the cutie clothes department, my Jerseys seem to hold up well, but the riding shorts tend to wear thin in the back. Of course I don’t realize that until a fellow rider suggests that I might want to start putting suntan lotion on my derrière.
In the maybe department: A new bike. The one I have is very good, but it is 10 years old, loaded with very good but outdated tech, and has about 80,000 miles on it. We’ll see how the year goes.
The bad thing about writing down my resolutions is that a year from now, someone can pull this column and challenge me as to which ones I completed and which ones I didn’t. Notice that I didn’t list losing weight as a goal, since I’ve had that goal now for about 40 years and it hasn’t happened yet.
So as you contemplate the bicycle-related resolutions you would like to accomplish this year, the first resolution to address has to be …
Did you ride your bike today?