A few days ago I passed 3,000 miles of cycling for the year and that puts me about two weeks ahead of where I was last year at this time. Last year my goal was to cycle 5,000 miles in 2011, but ended up with 6,836 miles. This past January several people asked me what my goal for 2012 was going to be and my usual answer was, “To have fun.” Last year I was trying to rack up as many miles as possible and that meant I got most of my miles while cycling on the road.
When I bought my Surly Pugsley Necromancer Fat Bike last December I intended to use it mainly for rides on the snow, mud and beach (and in my area of the country sometimes all those conditions are present on the same ride). Even though riding on off-road trails is slower, it does have several advantages, i.e, no cars to avoid, no broken glass to dodge, and no teenagers throwing garbage out the window. Off-road trails also allow me more time to think, enjoy nature and meet new people.
I’ve found the people who use the off-road trails are generally more friendly than Roadies. Too often on the road you find some dude with a new set of aerobars who is just certain that if Fabian Cancellara crashes again he is going to get a call from Johan Bruyneel begging him to come save Radioshack Nissan Trek at the Tour de France (that’s probably why they are concentrating so hard they can’t even acknowledge the existence of other cyclists). The funny thing is that I cycled all winter on those same roads and didn’t see any of these dedicated cyclists on the road—I think most of them spent the winter in their basement riding on their training wheels, excuse me, I mean riding on their bicycle trainer stand.
One other change from last year is my training routes. Last year I got into a rut and rode the same handful of routes over and over. My loving wife has spent many hours in the car with me as I drove through the back roads of Illinois and Wisconsin looking for new training routes. I could have searched for these routes while on my bike, but I hate getting caught out in the middle of nowhere without water (yeah, it’s happened).
We all cycle for different reasons. Some ride for their physical health, others for mental health. Some people ride because they enjoy group rides, while others enjoy a quiet ride on the back-roads so they can work out their problems in solitude. Whatever your motivation for cycling is, I hope you can enjoy the rest of this year on a good bike.