Tagged: New Year’s Day

Kicking off 2020 with a Century Ride

Like I did on New Year’s Day 2016, I rode a century ride with the LA Wheelmen. Well, saying I rode with them is a bit untrue. I arrived at the start point in Malibu at 7:00 AM, but after about ten minutes they got so far ahead of me that I never saw them for the rest of the day.

As anyone who has spent any time with me over the past half year knows, I am not a happy person. I spent New Year’s Eve having a mild panic attack from the anxiety of a new year. Since about New Year’s Eve 2013, I have dreaded the new year because each one has turned out worse than the previous. This sullen feeling only gets compounded by knowing that seemingly everyone else was having fun looking forward to a bright future. I was not.

One of the few pure joys I have is bicycling. Again, it’s not a perfect relationship, but we get by. First, I am not that good at it. I am slow on the bike and, in my advancing age, I am cautious in traffic so I don’t take risks that younger, speedier cyclists take. Second, all my gear is from a different age. At first, it didn’t bother me having such old gear, but now I feel like a dinosaur riding a 9-speed bike with rim brakes and cable shifting. I think I realized that group riding might not be my thing, although there’s no way I’m doing something silly like getting a Peloton.

Yesterday, the Pacific Coast Highway was my peloton.

However, the greatest benefit of cycling has been able to spend hours burning away my nervous energy focusing on something other than my stress and anxieties. And yesterday, on New Year’s Day, I was able to do just that.

I don’t have a lot to say about this ride to distinguish this ride from my 2016 effort. In both cases, the weather was chilly at the beginning, but there was a lot of sunshine in the afternoon and the temperature reached the upper 60s.

The scenery was absolutely stunning. I think Foothill Road in Ventura has become one of my favorite stretches of road out here. There’s rolling hills and a nice summit with plenty of pretty scenery—including the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

I was also enamored with the view on the way back. Riding south on the seaside of PCH provided multiple photo opportunities.

But aside from that, my performance on this ride was not as great as the first time I did it. Here are some numbers:

Mileage100.8 mi.100.0 mi.
Total Time9:27:449:04:45
Moving Time7:12:367:14:49
Average Speed14.0 MPH13.8 MPH

One thing that sticks out is that I was faster four years ago than I was this year. I rode the full century at an average speed of 14.0 MPH in 2016, but this year, I dropped to 13.8 MPH. Don’t get me wrong: that is still a respectable speed for a rider like me. I would immediately attribute that to the fact that my last ride of over 50 miles was over four months ago, back in August. Also, as one of the LA Wheelmen riders remarked before he sprinted away from me on PCH, “we all were in better shape four years ago.” Also, 2015 was my best cycling year ever. I rode a long-distance ride just about every weekend between March and August that year. Although I ride a bike just about every day, I simply don’t have the base miles.

However, I’m never one to obsess about PRs, and on this ride, I had a different goal. Because there’s not a lot of daylight this time of year, my principal concern was finishing before the 4:30 PM sunset. And that I did.

My lasting impression of this ride from 2016 was how hard the last twenty-five miles were due to the hills and the traffic. This year I sought to mitigate those challenges.

That first time, I didn’t expect the hills to be so challenging on PCH, and I didn’t gear down enough to give myself a chance. By the end of the ride, I was wiped out. For 2020, I made an effort to “respect” the hills. I geared down early and often, and I believe that made a difference. I wasn’t exhausted at the end of the ride.

As for the traffic, it was bad. The southbound side of PCH runs next to the oceanside of the roadway. Many beachgoers park in the shoulder, which is where I ride for most of the way. Also, many cars don’t move to the left to give me a bit of space; they just whizz past me at 50 MPH with inches to spare. After that happening once or twice, I started to take the lane when the shoulder was unavailable.

2020 Hindsight: A Decade in Photos

A pile of spent confetti poppers lies on a hardwood floor signaling the end of a festive New Year's Day celebration.

By press time, it will be 2020 in most of the world. Pardon me if I seem a little unexcited about the coming of a new decade. After all, I lived through the year 2000—the turn of a century and a new millennium. And I was old enough to not only appreciate it, I went to three parties that night!

Ringing in a new decade in 2020 is, to me, like getting excited about Starbucks. “Oh, is this your first one?”

Although I’ve soured on just about all other social media, I’ve really been into posting Instagram Stories since the summer. I won’t explain all my reasons but I will say that I like that it remains a creative medium. I like telling stories through still images and concise text.

Last night, I got inspired to curate a Instastory—A Decade in Photos. Although there is a Highlight that is somewhat permanent, I am posting a gallery of the same photos here.

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Crash and Cold

My California adventure on two wheels continued unabated in the New Year because I have done something a bit foolish.

I got a used road bike off Craigslist.

West Coast Bike

Like the Green Monster I rode with the LA Wheelmen after Christmas, this bike is also from the late 1990s. Curiously, the late 1990s was about the time I started riding a bike more than a few miles at a time because gas prices spiked to the then elevated $2.00 per gallon, and I was unhappy paying more than $20 per week to fill up my tank.1

There’s a bit of lunacy in getting a bike that will sit in California while I live in New York, but I suspect that I will be coming out west a bit more frequently in the coming months. If that’s true, it might make sense to keep a bike to ride out there rather than renting one from time to time, as I’ve been doing. Also, my dad said he was thinking of riding it.

As soon as I got the bike, I made some minor though necessary repairs such as replacing a worn-out front tire, truing a rear wheel, and buying new bar tape. The chain could have used a thorough cleaning, but I was itching to get on the road the next morning and figured that the drivetrain might need more work than I was willing to do after getting it to my parent’s place. Instead, I said, “fuck it!” and rode to Oxnard on New Year’s Eve.

I rode the bike again on January 2. I had initially planned to ride a century from Orange County, where I was visiting my cousin for the day, to San Diego. But after talking with my family, I skipped that idea and decided to ride north towards Los Angeles.

Anaheim to Los Angeles via Long Beach

My planned route seemed easy enough. I would start in Anaheim and head towards the San Gabriel River Bikeway, where I would proceed south towards Long Beach.

Anaheim to Los Angeles

From there, I would ride along the beach and connect to the Los Angeles River Bikeway and head north towards Maywood and then onto surface streets to downtown LA.

Anaheim to Los Angeles

If you’ve tried to ride this route, between the San Gabriel River and LA River Bikeways along Long Beach, you’ll find that it’s not very easy to connect from one bikeway to another. The bicycling layer on Google Maps suggests that it’s just a matter of keeping the beach on your left, but it’s not quite that easy.

SG River to LA River Bikeway via Long Beach

When I finally found the bikeway on the beach, I found that the bikeway was closed due to construction, and there was no marked detour to continue. As I backtracked, I noticed another cyclist also riding to the closed section. As I looked back to see his course of action, figuring he might know something I didn’t, I ran into a curb and went over the handlebars. Ouch!

Fortunately, I was not seriously injured besides a sore shoulder and a bruised ego. After gathering myself for a few minutes, I got back on the bike and proceeded to Ocean Avenue in search of this elusive Los Angeles River Bikeway.

Los Angeles River Bikeway

The other blow to my cycling adventure came the day after riding from Orange County to downtown Los Angeles: I caught a pretty bad cold. That and the residual soreness from the crash basically kept me off the bike for the rest of the trip. I skipped two rides that I had wanted to do before heading back east. Instead of coming with a hundred-plus miles ridden for the new year, I returned to New York, where there is snow on the ground and temperatures that will not reach above freezing this weekend. I will also be nursing a tender left shoulder and a crushing sinus headache.

As I’ve said before, riding a bike sometimes requires a bit of insanity. I’ll be needing some of that to ride again in the coming days.

  1. It’s funny how gas prices, not adjusting for inflation, are about that price again at the beginning of 2015.