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2019: The Best a Man Can Get

MS Escape to the Lake Finisher

In contrast with a miserable 2018, 2019 was a complete renewal: possibly my best remaining year on the bike, and arguably the best of my entire lifetime.

While it lacked crowning moments like the Pan-Mass Challenge or the Dirty Dozen, I set dramatic new high water marks for miles ridden, century rides completed, and level of fitness.

MS Escape to the Lake Finisher

Indoor Training on Zwift

MS Escape to the Lake

I’m in Brilliant Physical Health!

PedalPGH Pittsburgh Overlook

The Herd's Leelanau Harvest Tour

Akron Bike Club's ABC Ride

My 2019 Cycling Calendar

Beyond the numbers, though, was how easy it felt. After my first winter using a smart trainer and Zwift, I began the season already near peak form. It was such a different feeling, without the usual early- »more

My Chariot of Fire

Cycling Roman legionnaires

Cyclists come in many flavors: roadies, commuters, mountain bikers, racers. Then within the ranks of roadies, you have sprinters, climbers, all-rounders, endurance riders, and more.

It might sound odd then that after such a long time—exactly 1,000 weeks, in fact—I still struggle to find where I fit in that spectrum.

It’s obvious I’m not a sprinter. My top-end power is perfectly described by the term “pedestrian”.

Does that mean I’m a climber: a grimpeur, as they say? Not if you judge by my build, or my performance in the Dirty Dozen! True climbers are much lighter than my (reasonably scrawny) 77kg, and usually much shorter, too. My best strategy for becoming a climber involves losing 6kg of weight and nine inches of height by cutting my head off at the neck.

But I do drop people on sho »more

Heels of Tar

Raleigh City Market

The long-delayed writeup of last March’s weeklong excursion to Raleigh/Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina. Added here more to complete our set of scouting reports than to provide anything of interest to readers.

Thu March 14: Travel

We left on the warmest early spring day Pittsburgh had seen thus far in 2019, although we still passed snow in the Laurel Highlands. As we drove south beyond Richmond VA, we came across dogwoods and magnolia trees in blossom, and a surprising amount of mixed forest. It was a long but bearable 8 hour drive, and traffic wasn't intolerable.

Arriving in Durham, we checked into our AirBnB before a mediocre dinner at Bull City Burger, decent ice cream at Parlour, and grocs at Food Lion.

Raleigh City Market

I&O @ Duke Gardens

Orn @ Duke Garden »more

Climb Every Mountain

Liftoff badge

I’ll admit it: I respond well to gamification, whether that’s keeping my streak of consecutive days of meditation alive on Insight Timer or—more pertinent to this forum—my indoor cycling on Zwift.

This fall Zwift added 25 new achievements to their existing set. The new ones are based on completing specific routes, which earn both an achievement badge as well as bonus experience points. A sucker for XP, I recently finished completing the entire set.

Of Zwift’s known cycling achievements, I’ve earned 57, leaving 7 badges that I’ve yet to achieve. And therein lies the rub.

One of them is simply a matter of time. Once you’ve climbed Alpe du Zwift—Zwift’s in-game copy of France’s Alpe d’Huez—25 times, you earn the “Masochist” badge. It’s a tough climb, but no problem there; I’ve a »more

Hey Nineteen


To make this late-season update a little more interesting, I decided to do a video update.

The TLDR is this: contrary to expectations, my season ended quite abruptly, but not before a record-shattering 2019. Now, with snow flying in Pittsburgh, I’m mostly transitioning back to the indoor trainer and my virtual Zwift world, amidst daydreams and scheming for 2020.

There won’t be much more to tell before my usual end-of-year summary, but that’ll be a big post, as I hope to do justice to this exceptional year. But for now, here’s a quick audiovisual update:

Rows City

Inna framed by the Columbia River at Vista House

With the end of cycling’s high season, I was free to spend a week with Inna checking out Portland. Not the familiar largest city in Maine, where I lived for eight years, but its namesake, the largest city in the state of Oregon.

Although we’d both visited before, neither of us had experienced much of the city itself. My 2004 visit was based an hour east of Portland, at Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mt. Hood; and in 2008 my second visit was even farther away in coastal Astoria and Seaside. Inna’s only visit had been for a brief convention. So Portland was a new city to us. But we had pretty high hopes, based on its reputation and several friends’ experiences.

Wed 2 October

Inna framed by the Columbia River at Vista House

Travel day, flying Pittsburgh to Chicago to Portland. Upon ar »more

Dirty Birds

Dirty Dozen rider

Another year, another edition of Pittsburgh’s signature Dirty Dozen ride.

Although I conquered the challenging course in 2017, I wasn’t in physical or mental condition to ride last year; instead I threw my camera bag over my shoulder and played photographer, bagging 350 action shots while driving frantically between the course’s five steepest hills, trying to simultaneously keep pace with seven different groups of riders.

Despite this year's record-smashing cycling season, over the past two months I was plagued by a strained achilles, a lingering cold, plus a week of travel. I didn’t do any of the Dirty Dozen group training rides, and was in no shape to approach those hills on a bike myself. So I spent another day documenting other riders’ suffering and triumphs.

That’s okay tho, bec »more