Cycling in 2017-my year in review

2017 was a great year for cycling.  I exceeded my initial goal of 8,000 miles, and my revised goal of 10,000 miles, ending up with 10,110 miles.

Some highlights, and a few thoughts, comments, notes on 2017 riding:

  • I barely made 10,000 miles. I had ridden over 900 miles in every month after March, and I only needed 540 miles in December, but in December I managed only 650 due to being busy at work and the holidays.  Longest day in the saddle in December was only 34 miles. I also had four days off the bike in December, the most of any month since March.
  • My monthly mileage totals show an interesting pattern. In four months, I rode 651 miles or less.  In the other eight I rode 893 or more. There was no month in between 651 and 893.
  • I definitely rode more because I had a goal. In June, for example, I noticed that I was lagging May miles, so I added 10-12 miles to my morning commute for several days.  The added miles were on the C&O Canal north of Chain Bridge – a very nice way to start the day. I also traveled by bike to or from some meetings I would have driven to if I didn’t have a goal.
  • I met my goals partly due to good health (I missed no days due to arthritis, better than past years), and very little business travel. I rode 332 days, and was off the bike only 33 days. So I rode about nine out of every ten days.
  • Bike commuting is a huge reason for my mileage. 24 miles/day, 5 days/week pays off.  Plus some days there are side trips, and some weekend work. I just did the math, and my commutes totaled 6,211 miles, equal to 61.4% of my total miles.
  • I kept track the old-fashioned way, on a calendar. No Strava for me! I am not a total Luddite though. I bought a Garmin 1000 this year which is great for organized rides.  No more cuesheets taped to the handlebars, and me bending over trying to read 12-point font and riding a straight line.  I still sometimes manage to miss a turn, but I realize it right away, usually right as I am missing it.
  • I rode six organized centuries. I usually ride three, never more than four. I rode Mountain Mama for the first time.  10,000 feet of climbing.  Made me cry for my mama.  Rode Bike to the Beach, an easy flat ride that for some crazy reason starts at 5 a.m. from DC.  I raised over $1,000 for autism programs in that ride.
  • I did two other rides of 100+ miles. These were Friday play hooky rides in Loudon County led by Pete from Bikenetic. (Over 100 miles to me because I rode to and from the Leesburg ride start.) Both rides stopped at wineries. If you haven’t played hooky and done one of these rides you should.  One ride had the prettiest road I have ever ridden on. I also did a few other rides on Loudon County dirt roads.  They are the best.
  • I did the White’s Ferry loop (C&O Canal to White’s Ferry, then ride to Leesburg on 15, the W&OD home) a few times times. This is a great ride. I especially love it when it’s wet and muddy. And this year I found some ripe pawpaws in September on this ride.  First time I ever ate pawpaw.
  • I still enjoy biking. Yeah, sometimes after work I am not looking forward to the ride home.  But once I get going I almost always enjoy it.  It’s a great stress reliever.
  • I am getting slower. That’s life. I turn 60 this month.  I often ride to Purcellville and back on the W&OD, a 72 mile ride from my house.  Used to sometimes do it in 4 hours flat (time on computer, not including any stoppage time) for an 18 mph average.  Haven’t been at 4 hours or under in 2 years. Those days are gone.
  • I rode over 700 miles with my son Nolan on the tandem this year. Riding with Nolan is not like riding by myself or with other cyclists. He is disabled, and we are a very slow tandem team.  But he loves short rides, and I enjoy our time together.  It sure beats driving to the playground. Our rides included four group rides, three around Hains Point and one a FABB 20-miler where we kept up with the group. Nolan likes group rides; he thinks he is in a bike race. Most of our rides include either a stop at a restaurant for breakfast or lunch, or at a coffee stop for coffee and smoothie.

2017 by the numbers:

Month             Total               # Days with    # Century       Tandem

                          Miles               0 miles             rides                miles

Jan.                     651                        5                            0                      49

Feb.                    455                         10                          0                      22

March                600                         4                            0                      24

April                  917                         1                            0                      56

May                    998                         1                            0                      61

June                    907                         2                            0                      54

July                     1024                       2                            1                      108

August                1008                       1                            2                      53

September          988                        1                            2                      75

October              1019                       1                            2                      51

November          893                         1                            1                      96

December           650                         4                            0                      59

Total                 10,110               33                        8                 708


9,000+ miles

I have now ridden just over 9,100 miles year-to-date. I have exceeded my original goal of 8,000 for the year, I now believe I will surpass 10,000 miles. This is much more than I thought I’d do.  I attribute the total to bike commuting (probably 60% or more of my mileage), little business travel this year, and relatively good health (fewer or less severe knee and hip problems than some years).

This is my first year tracking my mileage so I cannot compare it to past years.

The highlights of the last month and a half include coffeeneuring with Nolan (which I have posted on), my last organized century, and rides on dirt roads in Loudon County.

I rode the Culpeper Century on October 7.  The weather was great, and so was the new course.  I rode the first 53 miles with a group, and we averaged 20.1 mph.  The group broke up after that, because some were doing just the metric and the hills broke up the small group that remained on the century.  After killing myself to keep up with three riders on the climbs I let them go.  I thought the next group would catch me but they didn’t and I rode the rest of the ride solo.

Culpeper was my last organized century of the year.  Since then, I have done two great rides on Loudon County dirt roads led by @Dirt from Bikenetic.   The first, in October, was a dirt road ride out of Leesburg that meandered through Waterford, Lovettsville, Taylorstown, Hamilton, etc., with a stop for wine at The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards on Hamilton Road.  The weather was great, and so were the riders and the wine.  I rode to the ride start and back on the W&OD, so I got in over 100 miles for the day.

The second was on Veteran’s Day, again out of Leesburg, this time with a stop at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard.  Again I rode from my house to Leesburg, for 100 miles exactly. The proprietor at Zephaniah did us a solid by driving to pick up a member of our group who had a flat tires–his second of the day–and no spare. They have very good wine there to boot.

Yesterday I rode to Zephaniah to buy two bottles of wine, a 66 mile round trip.  It seemed like a good excuse for a ride.  Mostly W&OD trail, but a few dirt roads, a little rain, and a stop at King Street Coffee on the way home.

Today was windy and my osteoarthritic hip was bothering me so I took a day off the bike.

Year to date summary:

Month             Total  Mis.        # 0 Mi. Days   # Centuries    Tandem Mis.

Jan.                      651                             5                     0                      49

Feb.                     455                            10                    0                      22

March                 600                            4                      0                      24

April                   917                             1                      0                      56

May                    998                             1                      0                      61

June                   907                             2                      0                      54

July                  1024                             2                      1                      108

August             1008                            1                      2                      53

September       988                             1                      2                      75

October           1019                            1                      2                      51

Nov. MTD          569                            1                      1                     66

Tot. YTD=      9,136                      29                 8                  619

Ça y est: Nolan and I complete coffeeneuring

Well, we did it again.  Nolan and I completed the coffeeneuring challenge for the fourth year in a row.  Here’s our report on rides 4-7.  (See earlier report for 1-3.)

Coffeeneuring #4

For our fourth coffeeneuring run on November 4, we went to Cafe Kindred, where I had the best cup of coffee in this year’s coffeneuring rides.  Pumpkin spiced latte.  Just look at this:

coffeen 4 a cafe kindred

It tasted as good as it looks.  Nolan had chocolate milk, which he seemed to enjoy:

coffeen 4 cafe kindred

We each had croissants, which were excellent.  This has to be one of the best coffee shops around.  It also has a liquor license, Hence the longish name, Cafe Kindred and Townsend Bar.  On this trip I asked Gary, the proprietor, if the name Townsend was after Pete, and he said of course.  The joint is full of rock and roll memorabilia, of a decidedly British bent.  They occasionally have bands at night, at least they did one night I was there.

The round trip (including the usual ride to Clemyjontri) totaled 18 miles.  And it didn’t rain, despite forecasts.

Coffeeneuring #5

Our next ride was on Saturday the 11th.  It was 27 degrees when we rode to The Virginian, a family restaurant in Vienna near Jammin Java.  It is not far from the W&OD but we rode there on roads.  It is just three miles from home. I had coffee — just plain old joe — with my blueberry pancakes and sausage.  Nolan had milk with his blueberry waffle and sausage.


The Virginian has an interesting decour in that it has chicken statutes, vases, pictures, etc. everywhere.  I always ask Nolan how many chickens and we count until we give up.  I asked my waitress how many they had and she said no one knows.

We rode home by way of the W&OD and some local roads.  We started toward Clemyjontri but turned back when Nolan changed his mind.  Total trip was 9 miles.

Coffeeneuring #6

On Sunday the 12th, we did our usual 13-miler to Clemyjontri playground.  Here we are at Clemyjontri:

Nolan and me at Clemyj

After the playground, we went to Greenberry’s in McLean, near the Giant.  Nolan had chocolate milk, 2 cookies, and a salami, cheese and crackers.  I had a latte and a croissant.


Coffeneuring #7

Our final coffeeneuring ride presented a logistical challenge.  Although we had completed six rides with one weekend remaining, Nolan was going to be away for that final weekend at Jill’s House, a fantastic place in Tysons Corner that takes disabled children for overnight and weekend visits.  The only real option was to go on a coffeeneuring ride before school on Friday the 17th.

Nolan’s school, George C. Marshall High School, is on Route 7 between Falls Church and Tysons–not a very hospitable location for a bike ride.  I scoped out a route and rode it one evening beforehand, but didn’t like it much–all side streets going by apartment complexes, and hilly too.  It went by a Starbucks, but that’s not my favorite.  The night before, I decided to go to Peet’s instead.  This avoided the hilly route through busy apartment complexes.  It meant crossing Route 7 twice instead of avoiding it, but both intersections are controlled, and there would be a less hilly service road we could take on the other side of Route 7.

So we did that.  It was rush hour but we were able to make 2 left turns on busy roads without problem.

At Peet’s, I had latte and croissant, and Nolan had chocolate milk and croissant.  Here we are:


And here’s Nolan on the tandem as we get ready to ride to school:

Nolan on tandem at Peets

It was totally unnecessary for Nolan to ride in cycling clothing for this short ride, but he is one of those cyclists who always rides in lycra/wool cycling clothing.  He was probably the only kid at school that day in cycling clothes.

After I dropped him at school, the traffic monitor told me that Nolan had a big smile on his face when we arrived.

The ride totaled 2 miles, our shortest coffeeneuring ride.

Theme within a theme:  My theme by now should be obvious: I do coffeeneuring as part of a tandem team with Nolan. I do get coffee on rides without him (yesterday, at King Street Coffee in Leesburg) but they don’t ever count toward coffeeneuring.


Coffeeneuring 1, 2 & 3 With Nolan

When I found out about coffeeneuring a few years back I thought, great, here’s something Nolan and I can do.  Nolan is my youngest.  He’s now 15, and has been coffeeneuring with me since my first year (2014 I think).  We ride a tandem together. Due to his disabilities, he cannot ride a bike by himself.  But he loves tandeming, and most of our rides involve stopping for food and drink. So coffeeneuring was a natural for us.

This year, our first three rides were all to old favorites.  First, on October 14 we went Bentley’s on Arlington Boulevard (Rte. 50) in Falls Church.  This is a 10 mile round trip.  They make a great breakfast.  Nolan had french toast and milk.  I had a spinach omelette and coffee.  They make great omelettes here.coffe 1 bentleys

Nolan at Bentley’s. It was a cool day early, and we were wearing wool. As he often does on these trips, Nolan went up to another family to meet their baby at the restaurant.

The following Saturday we went to to McLean Family Restaurant, in McLean Virginia.  This is our most frequented restaurant, as it is on the way to or from Clemyjontri playground, our most frequent destination.  The restaurant-Clemyjontri route is 13 miles round trip.  This time we were coming from Clemyjontri, after spending hours there on the swings, the train, and the carousel.

We are regulars at McLean Family Restaurant, so much so that the staff all know Nolan by name (I am “Nolan’s father.”).  You never know who you’ll see here.  Newt Gingrich and his wife are often here mid-afternoon, and I saw Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe here once.  On this visit I had eggs over easy, corned beef hash, grits, toast and coffee, and then some apple pie because I was still hungry.  Nolan had waffles and sausage and chocolate milk. Afterwards we shopped at the local thrift store because Nolan always insists on it.  I didn’t buy anything this time, but I have bought rain pants there ($20–a great deal), a rain coat, several suits and miscellaneous other things.

I forgot to take a picture, saw here is a photo of my receipt from the restaurant:coffee 2 MFR

The next day, we went to Clemyjontri again, but this time we stopped at Star Nut Gourmet in McLean on the way home.  Another 13 mile loop.  This is a really fantastic coffee shop.  It serves great barista drinks and has great pastries and even a limited menu of breakfast and lunch foods.  I had a latte and a croissant, and Nolan had a mango smoothie, a croissant, and a cookie. (I love coffee shops that serve smoothies so I can go with the kids.) The owner and servers are very friendly and accommodating, and the cafe has an old world feel. It’s rare that there aren’t conversations in other languages going on.

Nolan and I at Star Nut, him in his new to him UVA Cycling Team jersey:

coffee 3 star nut

And another one where  he is smiling:

coffee 3 2 star nut

Paws Paws and Other rides

September has come and gone, and the days are getting shorter.  It was a good month for cycling.  Great weather. Not hot, very 60s and 70s, no rain.  I had some good rides.  First, I harvested some paw paws while riding the C&O to White’s Ferry.

paw paws

(Notice my new Garmin 1000 in the photo too. A rather handy device I have found.) The paw paws were pretty good.  I’d never had one before. Now I know where and when to get them.

I did two great century rides in September: the Back Roads (Potomac Pedalers) out of Shepherdstown, WV, and the Cannonball (Fredericksburg Cycling Club), out of Fredericksburg.  I rode the first with a group that included Ricky and Rudi, and so did it pretty fast (5:24, 18.5 mph avg.), while I rode the other entirely by myself, at a slower but pretty good solo pace (5:43, 17.8 mph). I enjoy both of these rides on rural roads.  I have at least one more century this year.

On a regular ride I do in Great Falls, I stopped to take a picture of this sign. NikeHadn’t thought of nuclear war for a long time until recently.

And of course several tandem rides with Nolan.nolan and me selfie 2

As September was coming to a close, I totaled my mileage month-to-date, and discovered I needed only 25 miles on the bike on the 30th to reach 1,000 miles, as I had in the two previous months. But circumstances prevented it.  First, in the morning, Nolan didn’t want to ride and so instead we did other things.  Then I had to pick up a prescription for my son Ethan and run it to his apartment in Maryland.  After that, Nolan did want to ride to the playground, and so we did, having dinner dinner at McLean Family Restaurant, our usual haunt, on our return trip. We rode home in the dark, 13 miles round trip, 12 shy of the 25 I needed, and I saw no reason to ride another 12 miles just to reach 1,000.  Oh well.

I have now ridden just over 7,500 miles year-to-date. I am less than 500 miles from my original goal of 8,000 for the year, and on pace for 10,000 miles, which surprises me.  Assuming no stretch of bad weather in December, continued good health, and little or no out-of-town travel, I could make 10,000 miles for the year. (I envision needing a big week after Christmas, and wondering whether or not to go for it.) Even assuming that my mileage decreases in the last couple of months, I should easily exceed 9,000 miles.

Year to date summary:

Month            Total                # Days with    # Century       Tandem

                         Miles               0 miles             rides                miles

Jan.                    651                        5                           0                         49

Feb.                   455                        10                         0                         22

March               600                        4                           0                         24

April                 917                        1                           0                         56

May                   998                        1                           0                         61

June                   907                       2                           0                         54

July                   1024                      2                           1                        108

August              1008                      1                           2                         53

September         988                       1                          2                         75

Tot. YTD=       7,548                  27                     5                    502

27 miles with Nolan

Back Roads Century last Sunday, Cannonball Century tomorrow, both on my single bike.  I ride a tandem with my son Nolan, age 15, but due to his disabilities a century is, and probably always will be, beyond him. But he loves to ride (he says it is “so exciting!”, and says “woo-hoo” when we go fast down a hill), and loves wearing “bike clothes.” You won’t catch him riding in street clothes.

Our rides are local, and shorter.  We generally ride to Clemyjontri playground (we are there so much the staff know Nolan by name), and stop for breakfast/lunch/drinks and snacks coming and/or going. The Clemyjontri route is only 13 miles, and recently I have started riding to a different breakfast spot not directly on the route to stretch it to 19 total miles.

Today we managed more.  First, 3 miles to Vienna (opposite direction from Clemyjontri) for breakfast and haircuts.  Then to Clemyjontri, but by a not quite direct route, another 11 1/2 miles.  Then to lunch, then home, another 6 1/2 miles.  We needed bread for dinner, so we rode to Vienna again (parked bike in exact same spot).  We rode through the trail along the creek in Vienna, and stopped to see deer (and to put the timing chain on when it came off).  When I noted to Nolan that the deer were eating leaves, he said “ew.” The bread run was another 6 miles, for a total of 27 miles for the day, one of Nolan’s longest days.  Total time was 2 hours 33 minutes (10.5 mph avg., we are not fast), not a bad day in the saddle for a disabled kid.  He was exhausted and fell asleep early. I am a bit tired myself and going to bed to get up to ride again.

Project 8K and 80K Update

Good news and bad news on my cycling and weight goals for the year.  First, the good news.  I am on track to exceed my goal of 8K miles for the year.  Mileage-wise, my months have been as follows:

 Month     Total      Days with  # Century  Tandem

                   Miles      0 miles        rides           miles

Jan.                  651                    5                        0                        49

Feb.                 455                    10                      0                        22

March             600                    4                        0                        24

April               917                    1                        0                        56

May                 998                    1                        0                        61

June                 907                    2                        0                        54

July                  1024                  2                        1                        108

August             1008                  1                        2                        53

Tot. YTD          6560                  26                      3                      427

So I only need 1,440 miles to meet my original goal of 8,000, which would require only 360 miles a month for the last three months.  I will obviously exceed that.

If I prorate my year-to-date mileage over 12 months, I am on pace for 9,800 + miles.  Even assuming that my mileage decreases in the last couple of months, I am well on pace to exceed my original goal of 8,000 miles for the year, and I should exceed 9,000.

427 of my miles have been with Nolan on a tandem.  We had over 100 miles in July but fewer in every other month.  One reason for low mileage is that the days with no riding are often weekend days doing something else with Nolan.  And any day with a century means no ride with Nolan.  Plus he now spends the occasional weekend away from home (at Jill’s House, a place that takes in disabled kids for overnight stays).  And we essentially only ride the tandem on weekends.

I have recently mounted an odometer on the tandem.  We average about what I thought – about 12 mph for a totally flat ride (Haines Point, where it took 2:08 to ride 8 laps, or 26 mis.), or about 10 mph on the more common local rides with some hills.

So much for the total mileage.  There have been some memorable rides.  Mountain Mama, dirt roads in Loudon County (two in really bad storms, one where I took refuge from a thunderstorm in a garage with a big hole in the side), and the C&O Canal –rides to Whites Ferry and on some mornings just an extra 10-12 miles on the canal before work.  Rides with Nolan, including both our usual routes and a couple of group rides.

My other goal has been to lose weight, and get down to my college weight (80K).  Well, after shedding 15 pounds in April and May, I have lost only five more pounds through August.  I doubt I’ll lose the 15 pounds I need to get to my college weight. Not even trying much anymore really.