2014 Year In Review

January 2014
I started the year without any real direction. Having found a mountain bike at Goodwill in October or November of the prior year I spent a good portion of the month riding the trails at Sope Creek. On the road I was riding my GTR 4.0 and Nashbar Nekkid Fixed Gear, at this point I think I was still on 46/17 for the fixed gear. I remember it being fairly cold with a couple of rainy days and some wind. Most of my rides were around the Cumberland-Atlanta corridor and around Dunwoody. I did end up forgetting my pump on one ride and it was a ride where I got a front flat. I couldn’t believe it! Ended up having to call my girlfriend to have her sister come and get me. The month ended pretty abruptly when I crashed hard at Harbins Park in Lawrenceville and injured my knee. I suspect I fractured my knee-cap but I’m not entirely sure. I was in pretty severe pain with a lot of discoloration and severe swelling. This kept me off the bike for 12 days. My rehab therapy was elevation, heat and a lot of peanuts. I haven’t noted any long lasting effects. I seem to have fully recovered.
Of note for this month is the snow and ice storm that happened on January 28th. I was almost completely unaffected since I live a little more than 2 miles from work and at the prompting of my manager headed home before the traffic got really bad. I spent much of the afternoon playing videogames and was shocked when I looked out the window and saw a complete snow cover and totally gridlocked traffic on the road that runs by my apartment complex. After sitting around for a few hours and lamenting the fact that I couldn’t ride in the snow I decided to walk to my girlfriend’s apartment. Some internet sleuthing showed me the fastest and best way to go was probably the surface roads that mostly parallel interstate 285. I packed a back pack with some extra socks, food, water and wine and headed out. This was only 2 days post knee injury so it was slightly painful to walk but I felt better once I got going and warmed up. It was amazing to see so many cars with no ability to move. The weather and traffic had conspired to create a thick layer of very glossy ice over the roads and being that this area of the perimeter features many short, steep hills there were dozens of bottlenecks that cars could just not move through. Once I got a few miles down the road I noticed the lack of movement on 285 and decided walking along the shoulder would be faster than the surface streets as originally planned.
It was surreal to walk along one of the most heavily used roadways in the county. There was almost no movement. The west bound side was packed with cars that were not moving but the side I was on was empty save for the occasional car creeping along the ice. It was like being in a barren wasteland, but right next to a million people stuck in their cars. I managed to make it to my girlfriend’s apartment in excellent time, slightly drunk but very warm and happy; 9.4 miles in 2:26.

February 2014
February started with 6 days off recovering from my knee injury. I did a quick hour long ride on 7th and noting no problems and what appeared to be complete recovery launch into a 3 hour road ride the next day and a 3 hour fixed ride after that. The rest of the month was pretty interesting. I rode in the snow/ice twice on my mountain bike, really fun both times. For my birthday my girlfriend took me to Auburn and I did an awesome 2.5 hour dirt road ride on my mountain bike. Afterwards I ate amazing barbeque and got plastered with some old friends. Once I got back home and settled in to my work routine I resolved to start walking every day, those 12 days off when my knee was injured were really eye opening. So I started walking for an hour every day after work. My plan turned into riding on an empty stomach in the late morning for an hour, then walking on the trails for an hour after work. I kept this up for the second half of February, all of March and the first half of April. I lost a good bit of weight and felt really good.

March 2014
March started with a Groupon on track training classes at the Dick Lane Velodrome. The classes were quick and interesting and I was absolutely floored by how fun riding the velodrome was at speed. I couldn’t wait to start racing in April. The rest of the month was spent on a typical mix of mountain bike, fixed gear and road riding. I ventured out a little bit during the weekends and did some exploring on the West and East sides of the metro area. The last Saturday of the month I did the Georgia Gran Prix Road Race as a Cat. 4. I think I did a separate race report for this race but the short version is that I ate too much beforehand, had a sour stomach and got dropped but had a lot of fun. The next day I set-up my fixed gear as 52/20 and found that gearing to be excellent to start with but slowly became dissatisfied over time. I think it’s too spinny for my area. I also noted I have 5+ rain days, with is pretty typical springtime but seems like a lot. I do remember my longest ride being a total soaker, four hours in pouring rain, huge puddles and just torrential downpour. It was awesome!

April 2014
I rolled right into April racing in Alabama at the Foothills Road Race. I also think there is a separate race report for this race but to put it succinctly, I got dropped for not paying attention but had a lot of fun. A few weeks later I did my first mountain bike race at the 3 hours of Payne. There is a separate race report for this one as well. It was an amazing experience and an absolute blast. Best part was racing and then heading to Alabama for the Old 280 Boogie! I also did some riding at Harbins and the regular ol’ mix of Road and Fixed riding. April was also my first Marietta Crit training ride. I don’t remember that specific ride but I do remember it being extremely fast and a lot of fun.

May 2014
May was the start of trying to be more social in the cycling world in Atlanta. I started the month riding the Peachtree Bikes group ride out of Sandy Springs and later in the month did the Atlanta Cycling Wednesday ride and started my routine of riding the Dunwoody Cycling Staruday ride and then turning it into a full century. Looking at my calendar, this was a busy month! I also started racing at the velodrome and purchased a new mountain bike! Looks like I drank a bunch too as my ride titles reference being hungover at least 3 times. This was also a big mileage month, 3 metric centuries and a full century.

June 2014
This month had such potential, started with an awesome Peachtree Bikes ride where we road under ever increasing threat of rain and I had a ride home in absolute downpour with amazing lightning and thunder. I then promptly crashed and hurt my knee in the first mile of a 3 hour mountain bike race. Same injury I had in January but not as severe as the recovery was only 5 days before I was back on the bike. The rest of the month was pretty great. I did 2 centuries, one incorporating the Dunwoody Cycling Saturday ride and once incorporating the Dingo Days of Summer Flowery Branch Crit. The latter of which was probably in the top 5 hardest days on the bike for me. Absolutely amazing experience!

July 2014
July was a huge racing month. 6 race days at the DLV including an all day Omnium, 2 Marietta Crit training days, and 2 MTB races, both of which I rode to/from. Here’s a quote from the 3 Hours of Tacos Race:
Top 5 hardest days on the bike. Probably should have taken that offer from my old head mechanic a ride. Crashed once at 0 miles an hour when I got my front wheel stuck in a hole. Ran my stem flipped up and felt significantly more control, cornering was a snap as long as if was flat. Off-camber still presents a challenge but it’s getting better. Once again sausage and hamburgers seem to be the best dinner option the night before. Also rode with a camelbak off the first time. No comfort issues and was a real lifesaver, sucked down 72 ounces in the first hour but never got a chance to refill. Belt/suspenders approach saved me as I was able to quickly fill my bottle from coolers at the start for the last 3 laps. I’m not quite sure I’ve ever eaten so much during a ride; 3 clif bars, a clif gel, 22 ounces powerade, and a small coke. And that was just during the race!
Overall I had a fairly successful month. I won some money track racing, took 2nd in an MTB race and really learned a lot about racing. My success at track racing really changed once I started making a plan and stopped just riding along. Need to work on that next year, planning when/where to attack and how to race each event should be standard for me.

August 2014
This month was a huge riding month. 1 century, 2 rides over 90 miles, 1 metric century and 2 rides of 50 miles. Also my biggest month for total hours. I didn’t race and I’m not sure why, I guess I was just tired and more into riding after work? I did get a new race bike, a GTR Series 1.0. It’s significantly different than my current race bike, carbon stays, press fit bottom bracket and overall a lighter, faster bike. I got a screaming deal on it as well. Once I sold all the parts and switched over some items it was less than $400 in almost brand new condition! Correction: I did race but DNF a race after flying to Chicago and seeing my dad in the hospital.

September 2014
3 HOURS OF THUNDER. Probably the best, hardest race I’ve ever done. An absolutely amazing experience; two monster climbs per lap, long and winding flat sections and killer descents. I won my category with 2 complete laps but actually rode 3 laps and missed the cut off by like a literal 3-4 seconds. This is the only race where I’ve been so wasted I seriously considered calling my mom for a ride home. I spent good portion of each race walking the climbs because it was just as fast/faster than riding.
I then spent the rest of the month sitting on the couch eating junk food and watching movies whilst occasionally wandering around the trails eating muscadines.

October 2014
I had thought the off season was in full swing so I spent the first week of this month sitting around doing nothing but eating potatoes and watching tv. It was pretty relaxing. One day while I was eating from a plate of baked potatoes and carrots balanced on my stomach I saw an Instagram posting about an alleycat race on the 25th. OH SHIT! I needed to get myself into shape after sitting around for almost 3 weeks. I managed to get in two solid training weeks with a 70+ mile ride each weekend. Race day came and I absolutely killed it!
2nd place but that was due to one of the riders ahead of me losing all his key rings. So really 3rd I guess. A little too fat for the hills and probably would have been a better idea not to ride to the race. Broke my track frame on Thursday and had to do a last minute single speed conversion of my road bike. Everything worked out and I probably did better than I would have riding fixed.
The guys who won were A level track riders running 50/16 to my 50/18 so I didn’t feel too bad about getting dropped but I’m going to keep that gearing in mind in the future. I’ve always used my reference of winning the 2012 Peachtree Bash on 46/17 to inform my future gearing choices but that logic seems outdated now.
I was also pretty excited to find out I enjoy riding single speed just as much as I enjoy riding fixed so I spent the next two months putting a thousand miles on my single speed converted GTR 4.0.

November 2014
Looking at my Strava calendars it seems like my offseason was split into two segments separated by as last minute sprint into form for the Samurai Hill Alleycat. The first segment was mid-September to early October and the second segment was late October to late November. Most of my riding was on my single speed GTR 4.0 with a few rides on my mountain bike and GTR 1. I also did a little more exploring on the west side of the metro area but didn’t really venture too far off the beaten path.
I did start getting into riding during the afternoon/evening after work. This is a lot less stressful than riding at lunch and I like it a lot better. It also has the added bonus of sometimes seeing incredible things. I saw the end of a police chase one day on the ride home.

December 2014
I’ve been taking this month easy as I prepare for my first race at the end of January. My goal became 10 hours week and I’ve accomplished that so for January I’ll plan to escalate the hours and maybe add a group ride or two to get used to the elevated heart rates. This was an interesting month in that I acquired three (!) new bicycles. Two were planned purchases and one was a spur of the moment since it was such a good deal.