2012 is nearly wrapped up, and I am looking forward to 2013. The year had some very high highs, and some low lows, but as I was looking back at some photos that I captured throughout the year I was reminded to seek the higher or hidden message in day-to-day life. This is my year in photos, and a reminder to not forget what I’ve learned:
January: Enjoy the unexpected.
We took advantage of unseasonably warm weather on January 1st to hike Sugarloaf mountain in Frederick County Maryland. It was a beautiful day and a welcome opening to the year. Along the hike we found that many trees had been decorated, but we had no idea by whom – it was unexpected but wonderful. On the biking front, I completed my first populaire and began my foray into the world of randonneuring.
February: Do not be afraid to explore.
February provided both warm and cold temperatures – which made riding around DC to complete the first 8 of 12 stops in the inaugural utilitaire-12 a bit more challenging. As I look over my utilitaire control card I realize that a full seven of the 12 stops were new to me at the time – including #fridaycoffeeclub and a #fridaycoffeeclubhappyhour where I got a chance to meet many awesome people for the first time. I also completed my first century of the year in February, a solo effort of the Weenie 100 route ridden by the DC Randonneurs. I got a chance to see some amazing parts of Fairfax county that I did not know existed, and recall how excited I was to see a majestic bald eagle at Mason Neck park. This was a great month to explore the world I lived in.
March: Look for beauty everywhere.
Spring rejoined our lives in March, just in time for an evening ride through the city with BikeSnobNYC, Brian and Laura. It also offered weather warm enough to ride a 200km brevet (over 130 miles -my longest single ride ever!). It isn’t hard to look back at those rides and remember the grass becoming greener, and flowers beginning to bloom. I recall one afternoon in particular when I wanted to ride through Hains Point after a rain storm just to see what was left of the cherry blossoms. While some trees looked a little barren, some were proudly bearing their blossoms. As I stopped I looked down and saw the gutter was full of petals and took the photo above (which I am happy to say is completely unedited). Sometimes even the gutter holds something worth looking at.
April: Take time to enjoy the little things.
If the amount of miles I rode in March were a testament to the warm weather returning, then perhaps the lack of long rides in April are a testament of the important things that needed to happen before May. Even though we did take time to go on a cupcake ramble with BicycleSpace, much of April was spent getting prepared for our wedding in May. That being said, there were still moments when you take a step back and enjoy the little things. After an afternoon spent unsuccessfully shopping for wedding bands we stopped downtown to grab lunch and sat at an outdoor patio next to this fountain. I remember the moment vividly, but for no particular reason. The simple act of soaking in the sun and sharing lunch is a great memory.
May: Take time to enjoy the big things too.
When I say big things happened in May, I don’t just mean the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Baltimore, or the perennially poorly organized BikeDC event – I mean BIG things! I mean a wedding and a honeymoon to Panama! Looking back at photos of both of these events has been so enjoyable, and the memories are big. The photo above was taken just before crossing a bridge on what could barely be called a road that leads to a natural hot spring. After wandering through the woods when the path ended we came upon the springs, and a family with a pet monkey that liked people a little too much! Soon it started raining pretty heavily, and we hiked and ran through the woods, back over this slippery bridge and eventually got back to our rental car soaking and muddy. I think it was one of the best afternoons on the trip!
June: Drop your inhibitions.
June saw my second time riding the 100 Miles of Nowhere, and my first time exploring the parks of Baltimore in the annual Tour dem Parks ride. It also saw the first ever time that New Belgium brought their bike-centric Tour de Fat to Yards Park in DC – and what a blast that was. I signed up to volunteer on the morning shift, and had an absolutely great day. The weather was perfect, and the carnival-like atmosphere inspired me to shed some of my normally introverted personality and just live in the moment. I wish I did that more often!
July: Find a silver lining.
July started off with a scorching heatwave in DC that actually made any sort of strenuous outdoor activities unhealthy. I remember one ride that I cut short because I felt sickened by the combination of heat, humidity and smog. Fortunately the early July heat dropped enough for an enjoyable 4th of July ride to visit some wineries. Late in the month I had to travel to Montreal for a bachelor party that was pretty expensive, which made me a little grumpy. I’m sure the 4 hour train trip followed by 6+ hours in a cramped car (each way) also contributed to those feelings. I made a point to get out on my own and explore the city as I wanted, and found the silver Bixi bikeshare system to be my silver lining. For a small coast I was able to explore for over 2 hours, taking in sights that I wouldn’t have seen from the back seat of a car, or the back of a bar. The bikes themselves had seen some better times, but it was well worth it.
August: Fight the headwind to enjoy the tailwind.
The first edition of the Hoppy100 was a soaking wet experiment to see the lengths that DC cyclists would go for a good beer (or five). I am committed to making sure this event happens again, possibly in a different form (100km maybe?). Whereas that ride felt fairly easy (despite other hiccups), a simple weekend ride seemed headed for disaster in August. We drove down to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Eastern Shore for a casual 30 mile loop, but ended up fighting some intense headwinds for the first 10-12 miles that really put a damper on my spirit. It didn’t help that a poorly adjusted saddle was causing pains in my wrists and butt, I almost considered quitting the ride (which is rare for me). However soon enough we were rewarded for our struggles with quiet flat roads, and a tailwind that begged us to wind up the cranks and sprint for a few miles on end. Touching downhill-like speeds with ease, it was a rewarding and fun way to cap off the ride. I’m hoping more eastern shore rides start with headwinds and end with tailwinds (not vice versa *Sea Gull*).
September wasn’t a “nothing month”, it just existed, and was pleasant – I can’t think of anything especially poignant. I rode the 50 States ride, got to spend time with the Beater Bike, started a new bike project, and went for a wonderful hike in Shenandoah. And you know what, that was all great.
October: Be thankful.
Another round of coffeeneuring (thankful for a great bike community in DC); Another Sea Gull Century (thankful for friends to ride with); a wonderful hike along the Potomac (thankful for nature); a joyous wedding in Chicago (thankful for these friends too). October had a lot to be thankful for, but also provided a reminder not to take these things for granted. Be safe and be prepared on the roads!
November: Sometimes you just need to go for a bike ride.
I really wish November had been better! Work took over my life, beat me up, and left me pretty down. I suppose that it also made me realize that it may be time to move on and explore new things (once I figure out what those are). In the middle of it all though I rode another brevet, this time the Flatbread 200km ride. Flanked by friends at the starting line we took off in the cold light of a beautiful Eastern Shore morning. As the miles passed, I found myself alone and the sky growing dark, threatening rain and high winds. After a lunch stop I came across friendly faces once again, the day became warm and sunny, and we used all that was left in our tanks to hammer our way back to the finish line as darkness fell. In each of the three “phases” of the ride I was aware of myself and my separation from what had been getting my down. You can train your body to bike for hundreds of kilometers, but if your mind isn’t in the right spot you stand little chance of finishing the day. Sometimes you just need to go for a bike ride and get into your own world – the separation from everything else can really help.
December: You are better than you think you are, you can do more than you think you can.
And finally December. There isn’t much to say, but I really like this quote by Ken Chlouber of the Leadville 100 run and mountain bike races. Perhaps a mantra to carry into the new year.