Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

With only a short amount of 2015 remaining, I've been reflecting on this year just as many do during this time. While I'm not generally a new year goal setter, I do like to take inventory of what has been accomplished in the previous twelve months and to think about possibilities for the coming year. And, yes, that is pretty much what a goal consists of (evaluating the past and setting intentions for the future), but I always hesitate to officially call them goals. Instead, I'll simply call these some thoughts on 2015 for me personally, and I hope you'll take a moment to share your own reflections on this year and/or your hopes and goals for 2016.
As I look back, I have realized that riding a bike has not been much of a priority this year. Well, I should rephrase that a bit because that statement creates a reality that isn't quite accurate. I have wanted to ride more than I have, but there have been reasons that have kept me from doing so. Among the reasons were lengthy home renovations, injuries, and a whole mess with bikes that actually started back in 2013.

The good that has come from all of it is that these unwanted hiccups caused me to do far less road riding and a lot more transportation riding. My Garmin has been pretty much tucked away in a drawer for a good majority of the year, and in many ways it has been a freeing experience. The part of me that likes to know how many miles are on a particular bike is frustrated by this reality, but it's amazing how much mental stress is removed when there isn't a small device in front of me telling me to move faster or to go farther.  I have been able to go back to enjoying riding a bike and I hope that - if or when the Garmin returns - I find balance in all things and keep the mental freedom that was renewed this year.

I've realized just how much I missed riding for pleasure or transportation rather than looking to accomplish some type of time, distance, or climbing goal over this past year. Although I'd prefer to have both physical goals and the joy of simple rides to get to a destination, I have appreciated the break that has allowed me to recognize that my path strayed a bit farther than I wanted, and I hope that 2016 brings healing to both emotional and physical wounds from chaos that I, at least partially, created (unwittingly) for myself.

Injuries have been a big part of 2015 as well. The year started with overuse/fatigue from renovations and then continued as I dealt with long standing injuries that have been ignored for far too long. I have a long way to go in many respects, but I feel good knowing that I've at least taken steps to get on a better path and there is hope and actual healing taking place.

As I grow older (whether I like it or not), I understand that the seemingly small injuries have a way of becoming bigger problems when they are ignored. I also accept that there may likely be limitations to what I can ever physically accomplish (I'll thank faulty genetics for some of that and my own stupidity for others), but it doesn't mean that I cannot work towards accomplishing more and feeling better.

In a household where bicycles have a tendency to come and go, this has been a year of plentiful change for both of us. In fact, there isn't much (frame-wise anyway) that remains from 2014. I have tried to view it as a restructuring year. Like any struggling team in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL these seasons are needed to grow and become stronger. While I desperately want to have a settled "team" that just works, I understand that for me there is some necessity for trial and error to find that right group of players to help me be my best. What my best is may morph a bit over time as well and I want to have a team that's ready and able for my capabilities at any given moment.

I have great appreciation for the Rivendell Sam Hillborne that has been my steady, true companion over the last several years. As crazy and frantic as some of the bike changes have seemed (and been), it's good to know that there is one that I can depend on no matter what happens. The VO Campeur is also becoming a much-relied-upon friend, and although I can barely pick it up because of the hefty weight with bags, racks, and such, I have found this 2015 addition to have quickly become a reliable and often first-choice ride. Tweaks happen along the way, but overall I am happy and believe this one will stay on board as time moves along.

One of the things I have liked least about this year is that I have allowed all of the above to take a toll on my physical body. As some already know, kickboxing has been a big part of my life for the last four years, but I understand that this sport is an activity that may have to be sidelined if my body continues to rebel. I have appreciated the strength it has brought, but my body has begun to tell me that this may not be the best activity for me moving forward. In combination with having less ability to ride long distances in 2015, I have reworking and rebuilding to do with both my physicality and capacity in the coming year.

In short, for 2016, I hope to physically feel better, be able to ride bikes much more, find stability and function in my bike fold, and to find balance between working hard and enjoying simple rides without (much) purpose.

I've also enjoyed being able to share thoughts that pass - or sometimes get stuck - in my mind.

We've chatted about whether or not expensive bicycles are always quality machines.

There was a personal theory that marriage and bicycles might have some similarities.

I shared a bit about discovering a bicycle again in adulthood and the peace it brought.

Participating in Chasing Mailboxes' Erandonnee event, and starting but not quite finishing up the Coffeeneuring challenge made the list this year.

Riding my sixth Venus de Miles I made a vow that it was my last after too many bad runs at this ride.

I made my first blog demo video, which was odd, but kind of fun - and I was reminded that hearing one's own voice recorded is an odd experience.

I shared some of my favorite set ups for bags and baskets too.

I got to share (at least from an observational point) the Leadville Trail 100 MTB with Sam for the second year in a row... and since I'm on the topic of Sam, he also shared his first time experience with a time trial (and I got to experience the joy of riding a bike in a severe downpour and hail).

Plus, there were so many more moments that made me laugh, smile, cry, ponder and dream.

I really don't know what is in store in 2016. As spring approaches, I tend to start making lofty plans for things that may or may not be attainable, but the winter has already been cold (even though much of the country has experienced unseasonably warm temperatures) and icy, so ideas are popping up before winter has even had an opportunity to settle in.

There is a bit of surprise that comes over me each time I make it through another year with this blog. There are days, sometimes even weeks, during which I wonder why I continue to type out thoughts. More than anything, I appreciate the virtual connections that have been made with others (and the connections to locals who I may not have known or known as well otherwise) and I know it keeps me coming back. I enjoy that there is a large enough readership to often get answers to my questions and/or responses/opposing opinions to my (at times, I'll admit, inane) thoughts, yet it's small enough to feel as though I get to know - at least in a small way - people from around the country and sometimes the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to have a space to share thoughts and experiences, and even more thankful to have people willing to offer their own opinions and know-how.

As we roll into 2016, I hope the new year brings you health, happiness and an abundance of enjoyable rides - in whatever manner you choose. Happy New Year to you and yours, and thank you for continuing to be a part of the E.V.L. circle... and don't forget to share your happenings in 2015 and your goals for the coming year.


  1. A very heartfelt and wonderful reflection. May you have happy times in 2016.

    1. I've started a bike overnight list for 2016. There are so many places to visit in our little state.

    2. Thank you, Annie... the same to you. Looking forward to reading about your 2016 overnight adventures. It's amazing when I realize how many places there are to visit for my location as well. I should probably start making plans now (it will help fill the too-icy/snowy-for-my-liking months). :)

  2. Best wishes for a terrific 2016. I love your attitude about goals. It is way more important to enjoy the ride than it is to count the miles.

    I'm excited to hear about both of your overnight trips. My spouse and I are thinking about our first little tour. No camping for us, though. We're wimps! This will be touring of the credit card variety. I definitely need a hot shower, glass of wine, and regular bed at the end of the day. I think our first little trip will be along a rail trail. I'm tempted to ask "what could go wrong?" but doing that would surely jinx the trip!

    2015 was really good for me. Instead of setting a mileage goal, I joined an online challenge for the number of days to ride. You had to get in at least 10 km in a day for it to count. The goal was 250 days. I took my last ride of the day today and ended up with 265 days and a total of 3808 miles. I know that's not a lot for some people, but it was the most I've ever ridden in one year.

    I think I'll keep my goal the same for 2016: 250 days. We'll see how many miles that turns into. I'd love to go 4000, just because I love round numbers, but I'm going to follow your lead and not aim for a particular number. Well, there is one exception to that: I'm also still hoping to ride a century this year. We'll see....

    1. You too, Kendra!

      I would be interested to hear how your tour goes - in whatever form it takes. I think sometimes that we hear more often about great distance tours or trips that take several weeks (or even months), but I think an overnight or couple of days trip could be just as exciting and interesting.

      Thrilled to hear that 2015 went well in regard to your goals for riding. Riding 250 days is quite an accomplishment! Congratulations!! I understand wanting the round number for mileage, but you covered quite a distance. Something to be very proud of, I'd say.

  3. Wishing you the best in 2016. Thanks for your informative and interesting postings.


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