2008 was a banner year for me on the bike. I managed to stretch the season, increase my mileage, and-as documented on this blogsite-stepped into the larger world of randonneuring.
The year started off with a bang in January. I got to ride with my brother Travis and nephew Austin in the Savannah, Georgia area while I was out there on a short visit. After only logging 10 miles in December of 2007 my fitness was seriously lacking and I was on a borrowed bike with a torturous saddle. Despite the limitations I loved the 70 degree temperatures and had a great time of it-including doing a little criterium training with a big group of riders.
In April I rode my first Gallatin Valley Bike Club ride of the season in Yellowstone National Park. At that time the roads were cleared but still closed to motor vehicle traffic (except for service vehicles) so we had the park roads pretty much to ourselves. Besides us, there were hundreds of other cyclists taking advantage of the opportunity. It was a special day.
I logged 681 miles in May highlighted by the Gallatin Valley Bike Club's Tour de Spud in which I was the organizer, the Spring Cycle Tour in West Yellowstone, and the completion of my first randonneuring event-the St. Anthony Sand Dunes 200km Brevet which started and finished in Drigg's Idaho (see my separate blog entry about that ride).
In June I successfully rode my first Randonneurs USA sanctioned permanent (see my separate blog entry for this ride), a route I set up and mapped for the RUSA national database.
Through the heart of the summer I participated in several GAS/Intrinsik Race Team Thursday night rides.
The race team puts on the rides for the general public-often with a little clinic. It's always a fun time-even though sometimes I had a hard time keeping up when the racers were feeling especially frisky. There were more Gallatin Valley Bike Club touring rides including the Tour de Chico and Ringling to Martinsdale-all well attended and great fun. I also participated in the "Blazing Saddles" charity ride out of Livingston on a beautiful day in July.
For the past four years, the highlight of my summer has been the Gallatin Valley Bike Club's Three Rivers Century. With almost 100 riders, it's our biggest event and it's grown every year. I was on the organizing committee so to insure that I would be able to ride on the day of the event, I recruited wife Brenda, daughter Stephanie, and mother-in-law Mindy as staff volunteers.
My brother Clay and his family also met up with us and took a bunch of photos that made it to the Gallatin Valley Bike Club website. It was a real treat having my family help out and we had a great day with near perfect weather. I ended up riding most of the day with a group of guys from Helena who's pace suited me and I ended up almost breaking the 20 mph average speed barrier-something I can only come close to when drafting off other riders who don't go so fast that I can't stay in the draft.
Normally things wind down considerably in September. After the annual "Bikin' with the Eagles" charity ride to benefit Eagle Mount early in the month my miles usually become more limited with fall activities (football games), shorter days, and cooler and more unstable weather. But this year I was recruited by Bicycling Magazine to map local rides with a GPS for their website (see the Bicycling Mapping project blog entry). So instead of shortening and limiting my rides in the fall I put some lights on the bike, brought along an extra layer or two of clothing, and set out to map 15 rides, including two more RUSA permanents that I had gotten approved but didn't think I'd get to complete this year (see my blog entry about the Search for Plummer's Gold and Martinsdale Mail Run Permanents). I tested my skills, riding many miles after dark, putting up with cold weather and even frozen water bottles while logging over 600 miles in October alone.
With the completion of my permanents and 200km Idaho brevet, I only needed one more ride to earn an RUSA 1000km medal. So I extended the season into November by riding RUSA's Plains to Whitefish Permanent Populaire (see my separate blog entry for this ride).
I'm still getting in some shorter local rides here and there in December, but the final tally will show about 4800 miles in four states and completion of five RUSA rides. I now have a pretty good base built up to hopefully go farther afield in 2009. Next year's plan is to complete a full brevet series which includes rides of 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km. All of these rides will have to take place out of state as there is no brevet series in Montana at this time. Of course I will also ride with the Gallatin Valley Bike Club and participate in other local rides as often as I can. Check back to this blog to see how it all goes.