Looking Back on 2014


Sometime in the wee hours of one of the first days of 2014, I laid out what I thought my cycling year would look like, both in specific terms and in a more general, thematic sense. These sorts of plans and predictions are only so useful in the making; a good deal of the utility comes from looking back to see how things really turned out. So let’s take a look.

Events and Things

I started most of the events I’d planned on riding, with one big exception.

  • Trans-Iowa v10. Rode it, crashed, stopped at the first checkpoint in a substantial amount of pain (having re-tweaked an earlier back injury). Contemplated riding v11, but have since decided that I want to focus on other things.
  • Gravel Metric. Rode it. A fast start brought some stomach issues, but I rode through them and finished in good, though not great, time. The GM is already on the docket for 2015; perhaps I’ll ride the fat-bike, since I’ve now ridden it geared once and single-speed once. And it’s not a hilly course.
  • Great Lakes Randonneurs Brevets. Nary a one. Oops.
  • Powderhorn 24Rode it solo, with friends, as intended. Drank a lot of beer, ate a great many tacos, and had a hell of a good time.
  • Dairy Roubaix. Rode it single-speed, which was useful for Trans-Iowa preparations, but not something I’ll likely do again. Even hitting 44.5mph on the long paved downhill doesn’t make up for having a walk a little on the last big climb (not to mention that hellish little one in the middle).

I did much less well at the things, for a couple of reasons. First, because they were things and not events, and therefore without fixed dates (for the most part). Second, because the small group that I was riding with imploded in the spring and many of the things we’d planned were collateral damage. Bottom line: I did none of them. This, in a word, sucked. But all was not lost, so let’s move on…

General Thematic Goals

  1. Ride more hours. With ~600 hours of riding in 2014, I can confidently say that I spent more time riding than I did the year before. I also spent a greater share of the time on the fat-bike than I have in years previous, so the distance (~12,000km) is a little low given the time involved.
  2. Wear brighter colors while riding. I became that guy with the crazy-colorful socks (many of which came from Tenspeed Hero and The Athletic).
  3. Less lycra, more wool. I did almost all of my commuting in non-lycra, and quite a few day tours and other rides. I’m still sorting out the best way to ride longer distances without padded shorts, but it’s easy enough to do for any ride under about 3 hours. The combination of wool boxer shorts, Rivendell MUSA shorts, and whatever merino or cotton t-shirt happened to be handy formed the basis of my cycling wardrobe for much of the warm part of the year.
  4. More flats, less clipped. Once I ditched the lycra for most rides, I had little trouble ditching the clip-less pedals and the SIDIs in favor of regular shoes or sandals. I’ve been using VP-001, VP Vice, and Velo Orange Sabot pedals, all of which make riding on flat pedals not only possible, but a pleasure.
  5. More darkness. I think I did about the same amount of night riding this year, or perhaps even a bit less (due to the demise of the Wednesday Night Ride and my less frequent full moon rides).
  6. Fatter. I definitely rode fatter tires this year. Nothing below 32mm, with much of my time spent on 35-42mm tires and the 4-inch tires on the fat-bike. I’ve now come to see 32mm as the bare minimum, and 35mm the most versatile tire size for general use. Clement USH and MSO, along with Rivendell Jack Browns have seen the most mileage.
  7. More skills. I doubt my mountain-biking and related skills have improved at all. I just didn’t practice enough, or put myself outside my comfort zone often enough to make any difference.
  8. Less things. In 2014 I sold three complete bikes (Karate Monkey, Smoothie, Azor Kruis), several unbuilt frames (EightInch Scrambler, Trek 613, Serotta Colorado TG), and a bunch of spare parts and wheels. But I also introduced several new (or new to me) members to the bike fleet. I built the VO Polyvalent right away, but I’m still working on both the Surly Troll and the All-City JYD. Less things overall, but not quite as few as I planned.

The Bottom Line

Despite quite a bit of riding time and mileage in 2014, I find that the year as a whole, and many things in it, fell well short of the expectations I created for myself at the beginning of the year. But just so that doesn’t start to feel too melancholy–even though it is–I’ve been looking back on some of the great rides and times of 2014 (and a few of the photos too).

2 thoughts on “Looking Back on 2014

  1. I enjoyed reading your re-cap, Steve. I can kind of relate, though my cycling goals are both much less specific and involved. I had in mind a few rides that never did materialize. I have to be much the “self starter” so I tend ride more randomly when mood and opportunity coincide. That said, some definite plans have been made for this year giving me something to look forward to. I hope many of your plans for 2015 turn out to be grand adventures!

  2. Thanks. I’m hoping for adventures in 2015, large and small — but I’m still mulling over whether I want to elaborate any specific goals and write about them. Perhaps goal-less goals are the way to go…

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