A few days ago, I realized that I did in fact have goals for the 2014 cycling season (which is the entire year, by the way, since I cycle year-round, in all weathers).
Now, when most people think about cycling goals, they often involve winning a race, or completing an event, or perhaps improving their performance-related numbers, or even nabbing an elusive KOM on Strava. And while I’m aiming to complete some events (Trans Iowa v10, the Gravel Metric, etc.) and do some more things, none of my actual goals are related to these things.
In no particular order, these are my 2014 goals:
- Ride more hours. In the most basic sense, I just want to spend more time in the saddle in 2014 than I did in 2013. For various reasons (some health-related, some work-related, and some just there) I didn’t ride nearly as much in 2013 (or in 2011 or 2012) as I would have liked. Time to change that around. And while I will continue to track mileage (kilometrage, actually) and where I ride, the key metric here is hours of riding. And not just moving time. Last one home wins.
- Wear brighter colors while riding. If you’ve seen me riding, then you know that I most often wear black, gray, brown, and occasionally blue. In the same way that I often add just a little bit of bright color to my bicycles (a headset perhaps, or a seatpost collar), I’m going to add a little bit more color to my person. Socks are the best way to do this, I think. And, as my wife will attest, I love socks. So look for me to be wearing black, gray, and some kind of colorful sock–at least whenever I’m wearing full kit.
- Less lycra, more wool. In my mostly-roadie mind, lycra means road cycling and not-lycra means most other kinds of cycling (I’m not the sort that wears full kit just to ride to work, or for most kinds of touring). But it’s not always necessary to don full cycling kit, even for longer rides on the road or wherever. Instead of automatically turning to my bib-shorts and jerseys, I’m going to at least consider a pair of baggy shorts and a wool t-shirt. It might just also push me toward riding more and longer in a casual, non-hammerhead sense (which will perhaps help with #1).
- More flats, less clipped. In recent years, I’ve rediscovered the pleasure of riding in regular shoes with high-quality flat pedals. It’s especially nice when riding around town, when on tour, or just when you don’t want to have wear shoes instead of sandals in the summer. It turns out that for many applications, there’s no real difference in performance. And in some cases–particularly when fat-biking in the snow or riding single-track that’s pushing my meagre abilities–riding on flat pedals with no retention actually increase my performance (probably because I’m more confident and spend less time thinking about whether I need to unclip and reclip). And there are some really fine flat pedals available these days.
- More darkness. In the non-winter seasons, it seems that most of my riding takes place during the daylight hours, even though I absolutely love riding at night. So this year I’m going to make an effort to get out and ride after dark (or before sunrise). This will be especially important in the heat of summer, which always hits me hard. Dynamo lighting will make this all the better.
- Fatter. No, not me. But I have come to the conclusion over the last few years that riding tires below about 32mm is both less comfortable, less practical, and probably also less fast. So, instead of riding the skinniest tires possible, I’m going to shoot for riding the fattest (or at least fatter) tires suited for a given situation and bike setup. This means nothing narrower than 32mm on my road bikes, and tires much fatter on the touring and bike-packing rigs. And yes, more fat-biking too.
- More skills. In my long-distant youth, I was able to do much more on a bike than I can now. This is largely because I’m out of practice when it comes to many skills. So, 2014 is the year that I get my track-stand back, and when I reteach myself how to ride a proper wheelie. The Necro-Fix will make this even more stupidly fun. Fatter tires, flat pedals, and bright socks will all help with this, I’m sure.
- Less things. I own a great many bicycles, as well as even more wheels, frames, and components. Too many, in fact–sometimes it feels like I spend more time being owned by them than riding them. My goal for this year is to finish the year with fewer bikes than I currently own. This number includes both actual (built-up and rideable) and potential (all or most of the parts, just not built) bikes. This also means that if I want to add something to fleet, at least one–if not two–need to go to make way for it.
Basically, it comes down to this: I want to enjoy myself as much as possible, while also cycling as much as possible. Who knows, perhaps I’ll even make some kind of peace with disc brakes–though that would be asking rather a lot of any given year.