The First 1,000 Miles Are Always The Hardest

10 Apr
Eagle Lake, Wisconsin Still Had A Lot Of Ice This Week

Eagle Lake In Wisconsin Still Had A Lot Of Ice This Week

Yesterday I finally passed the 1,000 mile (1,600 km) mark of cycling for this year. The first 1,000 miles of the year are always the hardest—and even though I love winter cycling, I have to tell you that this past winter was simply brutal! Chicago officially experienced the coldest four-month period in recorded history, and I live north of Chicago where the temps were even colder. We also had over 80″ (203 cm) of snow, which makes it either the second or third snowiest winter in Chicago history. And even though I have not been able to verify it, it seems to me that this also was windiest winter I’ve ever experienced.

I normally have around 1,500 miles on my bike by this time of the year, but the brutal weather make winter cycling even more difficult than usual. If you are not familiar with winter cycling you need to understand that your average speed on the bike is going to be a lot slower than normal—not just because you are pushing through fresh snow, but also because the air is thicker and you are carrying a lot more gear than you would in the summer. In addition, you have to stop every time you try to get a drink so you can lower your face mask and unscrew the thermos bottle. The coldest ride I went out on this year was at -11 degrees Fahrenheit (-24 Celsius). We had a few days where the temperature was a bit colder, but on those days the wind was howling at over 40 MPH so I decided to stay home and sit near the fireplace.

Though the amount of time riding this winter was less than normal, I didn’t have a lot of free time either. There were days when I had to shovel my driveway three times in the same day! So, as much as I love winter, I am glad this winter is over. There is still some snow on the ground if you look hard enough, and as of three days ago some of our lakes were still closed due to the ice. The photo above was take this past Saturday at Eagle Lake in Racine County, Wisconsin—the lake was still about 90% covered by ice.

I am not sure how many miles I will ride this year, but I should comfortably be able to get at least 5,000 miles, providing I stay in good health. However, I might have to miss a few days this fall—a few weeks ago our daughter-in-law announced that she is expecting a child in August. Though I am still way too young for the job, I guess this means I am going to be a grandfather! It also means I am going to have to start looking for a suitable bike for my grandson (haven’t decided yet between a fat bike or a cyclocross bike).


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44 responses to “The First 1,000 Miles Are Always The Hardest

  1. gillian4020

    April 10, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Whew! I thought it was just me being slow poke McGee. It has been brutal. I’ve been trying to do some long rides these past few weeks but it has been very hard and exhausting.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      I rode all winter but it doesn’t seem like I got anywhere—just tired. However, I have been able to do a few Metric Centuries in the past couple of weeks. I’ll do my first real Century for the year once the wind dies down to something reasonable!

  2. elisariva

    April 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Way to go!! 1,000 miles this year is equal to 2,000 in any other year!

    Side question – I am considering a mountain bike for recreation. Not for hard core trails. Mostly for a towpath and mild trails. Would you recommend a hard tail or full suspension? I’ve ask two friends who are addemet about their choices. Which of course are opposite.

    Thank you for your input!!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      I am the wrong person to ask about mountain bikes—I live in the Chicago area and we simply do not have enough big hills around here to justify me buying a full-suspension mountain bike. That being said, my mountain bike and cyclocross bike are both hard tail—but I added a Cane Creek Thudbuster Seatpost to both of them to absorb the bumps. It is lightweight and very easy to install. I ran a review of the Thudbuster at:

      • elisariva

        April 10, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        Thank you!! I am leaning hardtail and a good seat would help.

  3. sueslaght

    April 10, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Congratulations on the lovely news! Imagine all the new gear you will be able to research and write about.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      I can’t wait! Maybe I should have my wife try to knit all of his early cycling jerseys!

      • sueslaght

        April 10, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        Excellent plan. See a whole new area to market and blog about. 🙂

  4. saltyvelo

    April 10, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    I imagine I’m sitting around 1200 miles. I stopped counting.

    I got my daughter a strider. She still doesn’t completely get how it works, but she is slowly learning. Also thinking about strapping her to seat on the tandem….

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      I wasn’t cycling when my kids were little so I never had the chance to ride with a little one. I can’t wait till I have the chance to ride with my grandson!

  5. hughonabike

    April 10, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Well that’s put me to shame. I’ve managed only 150 measly kms this year and it wasn’t even cold or snowing. In my defense I was building a new garden………Okay that excuse sucked……..I must try harder. As for which bike for your new grandchild? A FatBike, of course……..It’ll be a few years before he’s/she’s able to ride so there’s a bit of time for you to save up.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      You’re are right about saving up the cash now—some kid’s bike are unbelievably expensive!

  6. unsportywomencanrun

    April 10, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Congratulations – my Paul has grandchildren and they are just so much fun 🙂 I can’t wait for them to be a little bit bigger and come and do a children’s’ fun run with Grannie and Grandad 🙂

  7. Jason Kayzar

    April 10, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Good on ya! I also just went over 1,000 miles. Normally I have more, but I ride early on the mornings and the black ice has been wicked. the weather finally seems to be turning, so it will be easy to make up for lost time soon!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      Let’s hope we can make up for lost time, but it appears as though this might be a very cool summer as well (of course, that won’t bother me too much). I just hope the wind dies down before long!

  8. Frank Burns

    April 10, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Here in the UK, we can have miserable winters, but not bad enough to deter the committed roadie from gathering in the mileage. My mileage to date was seriously elevated by two weeks in Florida……living amongst the refugee snowbirds from your part of the country!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      I saw your blog when you were in Florida—and I was way up here in the north freezing to death!

  9. fastk9dad

    April 10, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Congrats on the upcoming addition! My vote is for a CX bike!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      What little boy wouldn’t like a CX bike?

      • fastk9dad

        April 10, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        My thoughts exactly! I would have loved a proper CX bike when I was young. I was just ahead of my time and my poor Sears 10-speed paid the price many times over. lol

  10. Mountainstroh (Tony)

    April 10, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    I think the grandkid needs both! Never summer and winter riding. My winter was wet, but snow was minimal so I am very lucky. its the advantage of Seattle. I have no doubts now that the snow is gone you will pile on the miles.

    Congrats on the new arrival!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      As they say, you never can have too many bikes (though his mother might disagree).

  11. Randy

    April 10, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    Zero mile so far is year, Planning my first my first ride Friday

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 10, 2014 at 6:02 PM

      Have a safe ride! The roads in this area are basically safe now—most of the road debris has been cleared off—but the public restrooms in the city and county parks are all still closed because they are afraid the water will freeze (so plan carefully where you are going to ride).

  12. thehomeschoolingdoctor

    April 12, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    Great photo shot! And I hope the grandchild comes healthy and full of spunk! My bike is still in the garage. But maybe in a winter or two…

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 13, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      I just hope my grandson inherits the gentle nature of my wife instead of my personality. As for your bike, what are you waiting for? The temps are already above freezing! What more can you ask for?

  13. Bob

    April 13, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    We had a brutal winter in New England also. There were some die-hards out on the coldest days (less than 10 deg), but it’s tough to get any heat in your legs when it’s that cold. It’s more for bragging rights.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 14, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      I actually enjoy the 10 degree days, it’s the -10 degree days that make it difficult to ride in!

  14. st sahm

    April 14, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    Looks like an infant carrier can be attached to the back of that bike until he can winter ride with you (ha!)

    happy Congrats on your new title and mileage!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 14, 2014 at 2:52 PM

      In infant carrier? I think my son and his wife will have to handle that one!

      • st sahm

        April 14, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        Ha! ‘Grandsitting’ might involve cycling time 😉

  15. Charles Huss

    April 15, 2014 at 4:40 AM

    Congrats on the grandchild and the 1000 miles… In that order. 😉

  16. Nancy Loderick

    April 16, 2014 at 3:49 PM


    Well at least all that shoveling is good cardio conditioning! I would think 10 minutes of shoveling should be equal to 20 miles of bike riding. 🙂


    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 16, 2014 at 4:50 PM

      I can’t ever say I “enjoyed” shoveling the snow—not once this year (and I got a LOT of practice—sometimes three times in the same day!).

  17. Fred

    April 18, 2014 at 6:07 AM

    Congrats! Besides getting your grandchild a new bike (i think you should go FAT!!) you have to buy one of those trailers that attache to your bike for grandchild transport! Would grandchild in tow slow down your avg speed??? Lets see if you can tough it out haha!

  18. canadianinjersey

    April 19, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    Congrats on the upcoming grandfatherhood. The NJ winter this year was no where near as bad as yours, but my miles were way down for Jan and Feb as well. I’m at 872 miles YTD, and I’ll probably end up between 4,500 and 5,000 miles. I’ve got a 7-day, 500 mile ride coming up in July (charity event, cycling from Lexington, VA to Princeton, NJ), which should bump up the averages a bit.

  19. bgddyjim

    April 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Hey!!! Congratulations grand pops!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 22, 2014 at 2:05 PM

      Thanks! I am not even good at the “father-in-law” thing yet — not sure how I’ll do on the old man part!

  20. JennyO

    May 3, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    Wow, I can’t even imagine cycling in the snow, got my first bike for the road and I’m LOVING it. Though I have a feeling that the winter will not see my hard core self out there…. 😉 Congrats on the Opa gig!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 3, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      Riding in the snow does present a few challenges, but it is certainly worth the effort. As for the new gig, I am looking forward to it! We went with our son and daughter-in-law to her first 4D ultrasound — WOW! The images from the ultrasound are so detailed! When my wife was expecting those old ultrasounds looked more like a Rorschach inkblot test!

  21. Andrew Culture

    October 9, 2015 at 1:54 AM

    Well now I feel a bit braver about cycling in the mild British winter!


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