2014 Riding Wrapup: A Series of Ups and Downs, Mostly Ups Though

The end of 2014 riding season is upon me. This year was a rolling coaster of highs and lows. Along with high and lows come new goals for the coming year. Every year of riding has its up and down but this year seemed to swing back and forth more than most. Regardless, I consider my 2014 cycling experience a success.

The year began with solving the painful plantar fasciitis in my left foot. My friend, Matt Moore, at District Cycle Works did a fitting on my Blue Norcross EX which radically changed my position on the bike and how my left foot interacted with my riding position. The results were almost immediate. In a few weeks, the pain in my foot totally disappeared. If you have never had a professional fitting, I highly recommend it. It solved my pain on the bike and increased my efficiency. I feel like I am a much better rider having done it.

This is as good as bike parking gets. Photo by author

This is as good as bike parking gets. Photo by author

In early February, I accepted a new job based in Silver Spring, Maryland with allowed me to become a fulltime bike commuter. As all cyclists know, with a new job comes a new bike (N+1).

In order to facilitate my bike commuting, I wanted to build up a versatile touring bike capable of taking on gravel and carrying a wide assortment of loads. After much research, I chose to do a custom build on a 2014 Salsa Vaya (a.k.a. Smokey). Smokey has been my consistent companion on my bike commutes. Smokey features fully fenders, front and rear racks, 36 hole custom built wheels, disc brakes and 700 X 35C tires. In other words, Smokey is a beast on almost any terrain. After Matt did has magic on fitting, it feels great but may need just a bit more fine tuning. I will be doing a full review of the Vaya after 2,500 miles in the future.

The Vaya at Great Falls on my first bike overnight

The Vaya at Great Falls on my first bike overnight

This year was a mileage record for me which isn’t difficult to imagine given my 14 mile per day bike commute. Here is how the basics worked out:

Total 2014 mileage: 3,806 miles
Salsa Vaya: 2,206 miles
Blue Norcross EX: 1,600 miles

This year I didn’t do as many organized events and centuries as previous years. The events were as follows:

Backroads Century (metric)
Seagull Century
The 50 States Ride
The Baltimore Running Festival (volunteer support for hand cyclists)
The Hain’s Point 100 (metric)

I also did my first solo overnight bike tour. Since I had just built Smokey, my Salsa Vaya, I figured it was time for a little camping trip. The timing was right in my schedule so I chose to ride out to Harper’s Ferry along the C&O Canal. I rode my heavily loaded bike 60 miles out, camped, and rode 60 miles back the next day. I met some interesting people along the way. In fact, I got to ride back with a member of our armed forces who was out on his own bike tour. The company and conversation were welcomed.

Camping near Harper's Ferry with Smokey during my first bike overnight

Camping near Harper’s Ferry with Smokey during my first bike overnight

Beans in the Belfry, Brunswick, MD

Beans in the Belfry, Brunswick, MD

Now the down points of 2014 were few but difficult. Since late August, I was dealing with pain in the right forearm. At first this is a low dull pain which I didn’t think too much about. I kept up my riding schedule as normal. It didn’t bother me during rides but usually arrived hours later. However, over time my arm continued to worsen over the course of the next few months until it was becoming seriously problematic even during rides.

In early November I decided to step off the bike hoping of a quick recovery. Unfortunately, this was not the case. The pain in my arm only increased and began to effect my ability to operate my computer at work and basic things like zipping up coats. Never fear, #BikeDC came to my rescue again. With recommendations on physical therapy exercises and talking to people who have had similar problems, I combined rest with a specific regime of exercises to combat what was definitely tendonitis.

I spent all of November off the bike entirely. For the first few weeks there was little improvement but eventually the arm exercises kicked in and I turned the corner. This was a good thing because soon after Thanksgiving I just couldn’t take it anymore and went for my first ride with my friend Kevin with some pain. I have kept up the exercises through December with slow improvement. The strength of the arm has been an issue as well but this is also coming back. This injury has been one of the most difficult injuries I have dealt with simply because of the unknown surrounding it and the slow recovery.

This provides the perfect transition for this type of post: Goals. Last year, I didn’t set any specific goals with the exception of building a new commuter bike for my new job and spend more time riding around the city with friends, both new and old. Overall, I think I met these goals with flying colors.

As 2015 quickly approaches, my goals (yes they are more specific this year) are:

2015 Goals:
1.) I think part of my injury was created by the way I ride and a lack of core strength. Thus, I want like to strength my core and lower back.
2.) 2015 Mileage Goal: 5,000 miles (I may have gotten close it this if I hadn’t had arm trouble at the end of the year)
3.) I want to try my hand at cyclocross racing. (this could be a mistake but it looks like so much fun and  I own a cyclocross bike so…..)
4.) I need to rededicate myself to playing guitar (yes, I know its unrelated to cycling but if I write it down it WILL HAPPEN). I have a lot of a nice gear and I don’t play as much as I want. I also find playing guitar an extremely therapeutic experience to fight against my day-to-day stresses. I will never make money doing it but its something I intensely love.

I wanted to thank all of #BikeDC for a great year. A big thanks go out to Ricky, Peter, Ted, Mary, Ed, Justin, Matt, John, Jean, Kevin Brian, Brook and the rest of the #FridayCoffeeClub and #DTSSCoffeeClub crew. I look forward to many more rides, much more coffee, and maybe a few beers.

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One thought on “2014 Riding Wrapup: A Series of Ups and Downs, Mostly Ups Though

  1. You had a pretty good year. The C&O/GAP is on my short list of 2015 summer bike tours. The logistics of getting the car to one end and traveling to the other end to ride back stopped us two years ago. I am working on that for this years tour.

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