The hard things are deciding what to put in it, why to put things in, how to put them in the post. To help me sort out what to include, I asked the "Irregulars" for input. Some obvious inclusions emerged, for example, favorite Irregulars ride of the year, most inspiring Irregular moment(s) of the year, most memorable Irregular moment(s) of the year. Those helpful ideas still leave me to consider and decide upon my favorite moments, etc., be they "Irregular" or "Rando".
Another important consideration is: "For whom is this post, and for that matter, this blog, written?" I started out keeping it only for me, mostly with stats about the rides (for "back-up" purposes), with a little verbiage to remind me later of the particulars, and a few things I copied over from other locations or copied onto the blog in order to serve as a "back-up device". It quickly morphed into being about and for me and the Irregulars as we were the only ones that knew about it. This year, after I took up randonneuring, the actual audience began to change. Sometimes I didn't know for whom I was writing: Me? The Irregulars? "Local" randos? Recently, entirely because of Andy's excellent compilation blog of RUSA blogs, the readership is sometimes national and nearly international.
Back to the question at hand: for whom do I write this blog? I think I've learned that the answer is: (1) me, (2) sometimes contributors and (3) those that were on the particular ride in question. I think the better posts have been the ones that were targeted to those categories. However, sometimes it turns out that even when specifically writing for a "limited audience", the "reach" is further. For example, I recently put up a "reminiscing" post that I thought only "Irregulars" would be interested in, only to find that Biker Bob, a NC randonneur with whom I've shared an adventure or two (trust me, there is a reference to Bob making an uncharacteristic sarcastic comment buried in there somewhere), had made a clever and understated zinger of a comment. Bob sometimes falls into category (3), but more often, he would be in a fourth category: (4) other cycling friends and acquaintances that were not on the ride. Beyond that, unknown readers are just a bonus.
I have also finally begun to understand that often "less is more". One cannot relate everything from a ride, and if one tries, the post becomes too long and BORING. Better to capture a few key moments and leave some things to oral re-tellings (or perhaps others will make insightful comments augmenting the skeletal post). Comments from Doc on a Bike and local randonneuse JayJay (and others ?) drove this "less is more" idea home to me after I had made a really short post that was intended to be temporary (more later?).
Enough with the hand-wringing -- on to the meat: in no particular order (or maybe there will be an order that emerges from the chaos):
Seven days on the Blue Ridge Parkway: 7 days on the parkway.
Thanks Dave, Laurie, Lew, Zeke, Jackpot.
Thanks also to Dave's sister and her family.
Favorite / Most-Enjoyable Irregulars ride of the year: Summer Solstice Virginia Border Raid.
This was the second time we did the Border Raid as an "Irregulars" ride. The first time we did it as a group was in late August 2008. That was the first ever 100-miler for Frank and Snapper, the first in many, many years for Bob "Duke" S. and for Lt. Dave, was my second ever 100-miler, and the third 100-miler in four weeks for the Iceman. The Border Raid was a popular ride in 2008 in addition to being popular this year.
No one explains why they liked the ride. They just did.
My first ever 100-miler was a version of the Border Raid. I was solo except for the short section from Stovall to Chewning Rd. Earlier in the ride, I had diverged from the cue-sheeted / mapped course near Stem because I thought Tump Wilkins Rd might be a short-cut and easier than staying on Brogden Rd into Stem (it was neither) and I took Belltown Rd out of Stem instead of cutting over to Culbreth Rd in an attempt to minimize exposure to the building WNW breeze (I did succeed at that). I did, however, follow the cue-sheet and take Philo White Rd instead of continuing straight on Cannady Mill Rd as done the last two times. As my first ever 100-miler, this course keeps a special place in my cycling heart.
Most County Lines in one Ride: 12 CLs in 32 miles.
That ride was also the one that some of us had the most fun planning, er, plotting.
Most Inspiring Irregulars Moment: IvaHawk (at age 63, the self-proclaimed "Old Man" of the Irregulars) doing a "Half-Human Flag" early in LT's mini-3-hump tour. (Sorry, no photo.)
Scariest / Most-Horrific Irregulars Moment: From the same ride as Iva's Half-Human Flag, and in Lee's own words: "need I say, knowing I was going down at 30 mph."
That mini-3-hump tour also got a nomination for Funniest Irregular Moment -- when I "blessed" out Iva at the end of the ride for his abysmal distance estimation abilities.
Most Frequent Non-Irregular Commentors: Branson, BikerBob, Vance.
Tito's Second Favorite Ride, and one of my favorites of the year, too: Tour de Flat River.
Best "Irregular Velo Adventures" Post of the Year: Alan's August Brevet and Picnic.
Thanks to Robert, Iva, Tito and "the Mallet" for their write-ups. Without those, the post for the ride would have been a lot less interesting.
Which form do you prefer? "Better late than never" or "better never than late."
When it comes to this blog, I prefer "better never than late." (If I hadn't come down with this head cold, I would have put up a faux, place-holding post for an intended Dec-31st Permanent -- so that the report would appear in the correct year, and forced publication of this post at ~ 9 pm on the 31st.) As for this particular post, I find, that although I've been working on it for nearly a month, I just don't have the mental energy today to put together the remaining pieces. So ... I'm going to post the input received from those that replied to my request for opinions, etc.. Besides, the guys did a better job of capturing "Irregular" memories than I would do.
Mallet: Goofing off and laughing with the guys. See photo [of] Tito with faux rock on his back.
Mallet: It’s all good. The first 30-miles of the cold drenching ride [Nov-6, see the "IR" ride report] was really good – chatting with John (and Tito and Iva) and solving the world's problems.
Ags: I am particularly fond of the Good Friday ride that surmounted so many wayward obstacles. Three flats, missing shoes, duct tape, explosive BMs vs. unstoppable toilette (irresistible force meets the immovable object). It all blossomed into a great ride of 64+ miles for some and 74 for the stalwart. The bonus...it was Friday and there was no traffic.
Lee: The Virginia Border Raid.
Most Memorable Ride:
Lee: When Rabbit Robert finally got on a bike.
Mallet: 1. The last 10-miles of the cold drenching ride mentioned above. 2. Watching Lee unable to make the curve on the 3-hump ride – at least he wasn’t too badly injured.
Iva: Bob Sink's head sliding across Hwy 56. April 24th.
Lee: Need I say, knowing I was going down at 30 mph.
Mallet: I’ve never had a whole ride that was bad.
Mallet: Just reading the emails regarding Tito showing up for a ride without his bike! That is awesome and makes me laugh every time just thinking about it and the constant ribbing he now has to endure.
Iva: Tito's "duct tape" fall on Robert's Chapel Rd. Feb 20.
Iva: Me turning the wrong way and messing up the county line conspiracy. Mar 6.
Iva: My birthday ride when once again I messed up a county line conspiracy. Same ride - me giving away my birthday gift Baby Ruth to the farmer's wife. April 17.
Mallet: Ducking behind Martin when seeing men with guns!
Tito: A remarkable ride occurred when Iva, Agnew and I were dysfunctional. Even more than usual. The multiple biking dysfunction concerned our bikes and equipment. Ags had no shoes, I had no bike [ed.: that was a different ride], Iva had a messed-up tire that led to blowing out a few tubes. I knew that a bike can be replaced (by Iva's other one) and that Iva was capable of riding on a bike with only one wheel [ed.: oh, he's purposefully mixing up two or more rides, or senility is setting in -- ;-) ].
Then there was more. The Lieutenant had a fire station bathroom challenge and on and on. Memorable and fun. I don't know if you can market the wired on shoes that Ags had or the duct tape foot binding but someone should try.
Iva: Ironically, in sports like cycling and ultra marathoning where experiencing pain is a goal, an end and not just the means, some of the best and worst moments overlap. One of my best and worst Irregular moments this year was the Icy Rain ride, aka Long Assault on Flat Rock in the Freezing Rain, with Tito, Mallet, and Ags. So that is my nomination for worst ride and favorite moment.
Iva: "Anti-heroic" moment - most of us deciding Bob was fine and riding on trusting that his wife would be there to pick him up soon. Lee D, especially, stayed almost five minutes before concluding Bob would be fine. Apr 24.
Favorite moment - same ride. After making sure Bob was gone. Tito and I got semi lost on Pokomoke Rd and had to talk to Wilbur the farmer who lives next door to the Llama House. April 24 was also the day some of us wimped out of the 3 Hump ride because of the weather which turned out to be ok. And, it was the day Martin was on a 300K.
Iva: Funny moment - Lt Dave's May 3 hump ride and my estimate of distance from Martin to the parking lot at the top of Hanging Rock. May 15.
Worst moment - same ride. Lee D's head over heels mountain crash.
Funny moment - same ride. Tito convincing the country store female clerk that Norris was
[Gotta' give it to a guy that will list all the self-deprecating moments, includes all the good and bad moments of others, but never mentions his own outstanding, er, out-flying, moment: the Half-Human Flag. I think Iva is embarrassed every time we mention that.]
Funny moment - Tito forgetting ... his bike! June 5.
Funny moment - same ride. Harvey and Ags and the "spanking" story atop Mt Tirzah [ed.: I was there, and I don’t know what Iva is referring to – I guess I should be thankful for that].
Favorite ride – Solstice 105 miler [aka, Virginia Border Raid] - distance record for me at the time.
Favorite moment - same ride, Tito pulling me out of Grissom at 23 mph to catch the peloton.
Favorite ride - Tour de Moore with Irregular buddies. Sept 4.
Favorite ride - Mt Tirzah ride where Ags pointed out the "Cooler of Temptation" inside Hollow Ridge grocery atop Mt Tirzah. This is where and when a famous group Irregular photograph was taken.
Moments and rides I can't recall which ride - lunch at the country store in Berea where we got subs and ate outside with the jars of water that scared away flies.
The Yanceyville ride where I had two flats in Roxboro and had to drive to Yanceyville to get a tube.
That leaves me with the rando moments to recall.
First brevet ... whoosh! ... the lead pack (3/4 of the riders) were gone.
Tiny frogs on the road in the rain at night during the 300k brevet.
Cramplet storms in both calves while sitting in Uwharrie during the 400 brevet.
Sara and Gary "carrying" me home from ~ 160 km out on the 400 brevet.
A particular pain that lead to DNF on the 600 brevet. Ouch. Ouch! OUCH!!
Gosh it was HOT trying to do L-L-L in July. Congrats to BikerBob; he succeeded that day.
BikerBob's comment to me in Siler City during the August 200 km brevet.
October 200 km brevet, riding with a various assortment of temporary allies, finishing in 9 hours!!
Dinner with Andy and JayJay after the October brevet.
"Conquering" L-L-L, solo in October.
And doing "Showdown in Black Creek" the next day.
The gnats on that "Black Creek" ride.
John O. dragging me through KLL, the day after I had done a second "Black Creek" ride.
1300+ RUSA credit kms in October.
Dean asking me to come along on the KLL ride where he crossed 10k kms for the year.
Jerry dragging Dean and me the first 100+ km into the headwind up to Boydton.
Some numbers (you didn't think a "numbers guy" would neglect numbers entirely, did you?):
7559 - number of miles ridden THIS year
6216 - number of miles ridden LAST year
3537 - number of RUSA credit kms this year / "lifetime"
1411 - number of RUSA kms in events started, but no credit, this year / "lifetime"
126 - number of rides LAST year
112 - number of rides THIS year
67 - average length of all rides THIS year
54 - number of miles I rode on my birthday
49 - average length of all rides LAST year
40 - number of "Irregulars" rides I did LAST year
38 - number of "metric centuries" I did LAST year
30 - number of "Irregulars" rides I did THIS year
30 - number of "metric centuries" I did THIS year (2 of which were Permanent Populaires)
22 - as in "M-22": current number of consecutive months with at least one 100-km or longer ride
20 - maximum number of riders that started any single "Irregulars" ride
19 - number of 200+ km rides THIS year (1 in entire previous "lifetime")
17.8 - average pace of my fastest ride THIS year
17.7 - average pace of my fastest ride LAST year
17.3 - average pace of my faster ever 100+km ride
15.8 - average pace of all my rides LAST year
15.0 - average pace of my rides THIS year
14 - number of Permanents I started + 2 Permanent Populaires
12 - months in which to remember not do this kind of a post next year
11 - number of Permanents I finished within the allowable time + 2 Permanent Populaires
10 - as in "C-10": current number of consecutive months with at least one 100-mile or longer ride
_9 - number of conspirators it takes to get Iva a CL
_7 - days to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway
_6 - number of Brevets I started
_5 - number of Brevets I finished
_4 - number of Brevets for which I got credit
_3 - number of "humps" in Lt. Dave's mid-May "tour"
_2 - number of "Irregulars" rides Frank, IR #2, did this year (June ride) (July ride)
_1 - number of different bicycles I've ridden in the last four years
Finally, and most importantly, to each and every one with whom I've ridden this year, or who volunteered at one of the brevets I rode, or crossed paths with me on a ride ... THANKS. _