The point of this webpage is to serve as a macro scale log of my cycling, and how I felt about it at various points in time, as well as serve as a library of fun (and safe) routes, for the future me, as well as anyone else who finds this page.

Macro cycling log

November 2023 - April 2024

This is when Michigan winter set in, although not as consistently cold and snowy as the prior years. Nevertheless, it meant mostly riding indoors on the trainer, preparing for Barry-Roubaix and Waterloo Grit and Gravel. I decided to build out a proper TrainerRoad plan for a race, with a base, build, and specialty phase. I stuck to the base and build parts fairly religiously, but abandoned a lot of the specialty phase workouts because they were VO2 and anaerobic workouts, which I don't really enjoy indoors. The base phase was interrupted for a few weeks by a bout of COVID (finally succumbed after almost 4 years of not getting infected). After my recovery, I went to New York, and tried riding a rental bike in Central Park, which was a lot of fun, although I can imagine it gets a little dull if one does it for years.

Since the winter in Michigan was mild (i.e. most days were between -5 and 10 degrees celsius), I decided that my weekend long ride should still be outdoors, whenever the weather permitted it. That helped me dial in a winter cycling setup, i.e. the right number of layers, gloves, shoe covers, etc., which turned out to be useful later. Another goal that I made, but didn't actually accomplish was to ride a 200k once every month: January worked out just fine, although I felt surprisingly weak during the ride (perhaps I was recovering from some sort of cold?).

However, the corresponding 200k rides for February and March never happened, either because the weather was bad, or because I was too busy finishing up my thesis.

After defending on April 2nd, I had more time to ride outside, and the weather was starting to get better, so I did precisely that. However, both Barry-Roubaix and Waterloo G+G were coming up close, so I did not go really hard the weeks preceding that. The weather for Barry-Roubaix was predicted to be cold and windy, between 0 and 7 degrees Celsius, with a strong cross/headwind for most of the race. This is where my winter outdoor riding paid off, because I knew precisely what to wear without getting too hot or too cold. The race went reasonably well, although slower than I expected because of a cramp at kilometer 110, but at least it was not a disaster like I expected it to be (I should probably write a race report and post it to the AAVC slack at some point).

At the time of writing, I still have Waterloo G+G left to ride, but I am not too worried about it, since it's neither the distance nor the elevation gain of BRX, and it is on home turf, so even if I do blow up, I can make it back home.

August-November, 2023

These months were spent back in Ann Arbor, doing a lot of the weekday rides with the Ann Arbor Velo Club, and some longer rides on the weekends, either solo, or with people I'd met through the club. I also tried out racing cyclocross, and while I enjoyed it, and plan to make it a regular thing every winter, I was not a huge fan to cleaning out the kilograms of mud from my bike post races. Thankfully, Western Pennsylvania seems to have excellent road/gravel cycling, as well as a decent cross scene, and it's not too far from New York either, which has even more cross.

This was the biggest cross race of the Michigan cross series, and also the one closest to home. This was also extremely muddy, and hilly, and consequently, very slow. Still happy I managed to finish in the top third rather than in the bottom half like the previous race.

This was my first cross race, and a good one to start with. Not a lot of mud, and a reasonably long single track section, where I could pick up some speed.

Accidentally ended up on a mountain bike trail while looking for a shortcut on this ride. Eventually the trail got a bit too challenging for my gravel bike, so I decided to carry my bike through the woods, across a small stream, before managing to find a gravel road again.

My first proper gravel event, with breakaways, pacelines, and groups forming after the initial mass start. I was lucky enough to find a group early on, where I could keep up with the rest of the riders, and we got a good rotation going. I lost them somewhere in the middle, while I was slowly navigating a sandy technical section, but caught up with them soon afterwards, and managed to stick with them for the rest of the ride.

June and July, 2023

I spent these two months riding in Eastern Pennsylvania, in the Delaware river valley. This region had excellent paved roads for cycling (although not enough gravel), and had some real elevation gain, unlike Michigan, where one only gains 500 to 800 metres of elevation for every 100k ridden, and the gradients rarely exceed 8%. Whereas here, the elevation gain per 100k was somewhere between 900 meters to 1200 meters, and the gradients were routinely between 10% and 15%, with occasional sections of 20%.

Initially, I found it really hard to pace myself on some of the longer unknown climbs: when you can't see the top of the climb, it's hard to determine whether pushing hard out of the saddle is better than sitting in and spinning on an easy gear. Later in the summer, I ended up splurging a power meter that helped a little bit: I stuck to sub-threshold power for most of the climb, and then push hard when I could see the crest of the hill.

It was here that I also discovered the joys of stopping at small town cafes for mid-ride meals, rather than subsisting on cereal bars and energy gels I'd pack for the ride. I ended up trying out several excellent savoury pastries that I wouldn't have otherwise.

Here's a list of some of favourite rides from this time:

This was my second attempt at a 200k, and my first successful one.

All in all, I managed to get about 1600 kilometres of riding done in 7 weeks, which isn't too bad considering I only had time for long rides over the weekends.

May 2023

I spent this month riding as much as I possibly could, given that the weather was about as nice as it would get, and I had a lot of free time thanks to summer break. I tried my first 200k this month, but failed to finish at kilometre 194. I also went on my first bikepacking overnight trip. This was a short trip, mainly to learn about the logistics of carrying all my gear on a bike, as well as (re)learning how to camp. I did not expect the night outside to get as cold as it did, given that this was in the summer, so that was a lesson that I won't forget any time soon.

Here's the Strava activities for a couple of the long rides, as well as the return ride from camping:

This was a fairly produtive month, where I got about 950 kilometres of riding done.