To call 2020 a “unique” year is kind of an understatement. I would say “once in a lifetime”, but who knows what the future holds. While 2020 was a curveball for everyone, I can’t quite say it was “epic”. “Epic” would go to 2019. Still, I can’t say 2020 didn’t have it’s highlights.
Honestly, before COVID-19 hit, I was planning on 2020 being just a “typical” year. I would do my usual TT races, try to defend my state title, compete in a duathlon or two, and hit up the Tour de Big Bear, etc. Nothing all that exciting compared to what I did in 2019. Of course, everything got thrown out of whack in late February with the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in the broader US population.
The most immediate impact to my cycling was the disbandment of most group rides. This was a no brainer until we figured out the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 in certain environments. We then saw races get cancelled or postponed. I did get at least 2 TTs in early this season (one of the benefits of living in SoCal).
As more data started coming to light in March, I knew this virus was probably going to having a huge impact on our society for at least a year until we got enough of the population inoculated with a vaccine. My prediction in March was a 1+ vaccines by the end of the year and a total death of 500,000 by the end of the pandemic. I had no idea we would already have 300,000 dead by the end of the year. And, we’re super lucky that SARS-CoV-2 isn’t that fatal of a virus (compared to Ebola, Marburg, etc.). OK, enough of the science soapbox…on to athletics…
In the absence of group rides, I started doing some remote rides with Jill and some others on R5. There was practically no traffic, which made driving to locations much easier and quicker than normal. Not only were there less cars on the road, but there seemed to be more cyclists out. Some of the highlights of our remote rides included Mt. Wilson, Mt. Palomar, Malibu, and GMR several times. In fact, I don’t think I had ridden GMR as much as I did this spring and summer. Doing the remote rides was a godsend. While many people were stuck at home, I was at least able to get out of Orange County and feel like I was going somewhere.
So, the other question many people ask is “did you get a new bike”? This is always a complicated one for me, since I rarely buy stock bikes. I had my current cyclocross/gravel bike for 4 years. I wanted to be able to run larger tires, so I started looking at new gravel frames. Good luck trying to find a complete bike during the pandemic anyway. I settled on the new Pivot Vault. I transferred most of the components from my old Niner, but it’s still a “new” bike. The key factor has been “fun” and I put over 1000 miles on it, since getting it in May. I found myself riding my gravel bike more than the MTB, especially with 650B tires.
While most races were cancelled this year, it didn’t stop some friendly “competitions”. Someone organized an informal Ironman distance competition in OC back in October. You could do it solo or as part of a relay. I got into a relay with 2 other people. I was supposed to do half the bike (~56 miles) and about 1/4 the run (~6 miles). I did fine on the bike, but totally hit the wall on the run. Our team was one of the few that completed the full IM distance and in under 11 hours! It was a lot of fun getting out and doing something like this as a team.
Getting towards the end of the year, I saw that USA Cycling was putting on the American Climbing Challenge. Ride outdoors or indoors…it didn’t matter. I thought this was a cool idea. It started 11/2 and ran until 11/23. I started out doing this purely for fun. Going into the last week, I saw Top 15 was doable but Top 10 would be a stretch. I was able to put together 32,096 feet of climbing…my most ever in one week. That’s even more than I did in one week in France. I ended up 12th out of more than 500 entrants. That’s probably my best “race accomplishment” of the year.
To close out the year, my December got kind of thrown into turmoil when my dad ended up in the hospital with COVID-19 back in WI. I hadn’t been planning on visiting him for the holidays, since I didn’t want to get him sick. Now, I found myself flying to WI to help him as he got back on his feet. I took my gravel bike with me and shipped my trainer, since I knew I would be there for a couple of weeks. I got some outdoor riding in, but fell and landed on my knee pretty bad. Thankfully, nothing was broken, but I was determined to get 12,000 miles for the year. Doing the Rapha Festive 500 and closing out the year on the trainer in a cold garage was an interesting experience, but this was far from a normal year.
Here are the year end totals and on to 2021!