It’s been a great year. A really great year actually. Most people look back at a year and say it’s been a good one, or a great one, but I think what they really mean is that the year is over. There were some good and bad parts that they remember, but for the most part I think that most of the year fades into the background. All in all, I would say that counts as a successful year. Nothing too bad happens, a few good things happen, and it all balances out. But my year was great. It was so great that I wanted to share what happened with you, and because it’s a New Year’s post I wanted to share my goals for the next year as well. Think of it like a year-end wrap up and a coming attractions post all in one.
I committed to writing this blog every week, and to my surprise I succeeded. This is update 52 out of 52 for those that are counting, at least according to my archive files. It wasn’t a huge undertaking when I started the year unemployed. It gave me a break from the job search and the writing lent a little light to a grim time. The challenge came after I started my new job in late March. My job requires a lot of after-hours work, including emergency call out duty, which made finishing the blog on time a challenge some weeks. Add that to my responsibilities as a husband and dad and it meant a few weeks of late night writing that reminded me of long ago college papers. The balance to all the hard work is that writing the blog has been extremely rewarding. I started writing weekly updates in January and almost no one read a word I wrote. I did get a few views, but not many that weren’t friends or family; to whom I am very thankful for because they all encouraged me to keep going. By the end of the year I get a pretty big (for me) bump in views each Monday and then a nice little stream of activity for the rest of the week. I can’t thank all of you who read enough. Knowing that there is anyone there to read helps me keep focus when I need to finish a post on time. Actually, knowing that there is anyone there makes writing a post worthwhile. Somewhere along the line I also fell into what is becoming my own voice. I knew when I started writing that I had to find my unique voice, a style that sounded like me instead of a sampling of authors that I read, but the only way to do that is to keep writing. I don’t know if I have completely found it yet, but I will keep writing and keep refining it until I get there. I have also had the opportunity to interact with other writers and become close with some of them. There is a great community of authors out there and their support has helped me over the year.
My writing goals for the next year are to keep writing my weekly blog posts as well as tackle a new challenge. I had an interesting idea for a long short story, or maybe a novella. Who knows, maybe a novel. I won’t know until I start writing and see how it all shakes out. I do know that I am going to have to carve some time out of my schedule to write it, but I will find the time. It also might lead to a few blog posts focusing on the writing experience. The best part about all of this is that I won’t know until I start writing and find out for myself. I also want to keep growing the blog community, so I am going to focus a little more on social media. I have a Facebook page for the blog, as well as my personal Twitter account that I use to promote the blog and interact with readers. I am going to focus on adding content to these sites as well as the blog to promote the community as well as get new readers to the blog itself. One day I would like to find someone to help out and share admin duties on the Facebook page but no one seems to want to work for free so that goal will be a little further out than the next year.
It’s been a great year on the bike as well. I rode 2379 miles this year. That beats last year’s total of 1313 miles by a little bit. It all started with the 30 Days of Biking challenge in April. Then I rode the 5 Boro Tour in New York City. After that there were many local charity rides and training rides to keep me moving through the summer. My riding season wrapped up in October with Cycle Martha’s Vineyard. I couldn’t have asked for a better season. The rides were amazing, both the settings and the people I rode with. On each ride I only knew one or two people before we started but ended each ride with new friends. I also switched from only riding trails on a hybrid bike to road cycling on my new Trek. That change opened up a whole new world of cycling. It took a little bit of courage to ride closer to traffic on a regular basis, but the new routes and rides that were opened to me made it worth the change. I could add mileage by taking a new way home instead of having to ride and re-ride the same trails.
My riding goals are to add miles and try new rides. I don’t know if I can double my grand total for yearly miles again this year, but I would like to try for 4000. That seems like a nice round number. I also want to look for new organized rides this year. I tried a couple of new ones this year and really enjoyed the challenge. I also want to try my first century ride this year. I have been building up to one for two years now so it’s time to finally do it. I have picked out the Seagull Century ride based on Brian’s review at his site www.iwearspandex.com. I want to make sure that I go back to the 5 Boro Tour as well, you can check out the www.bikenewyork.org website for details. The added bonus to attending new rides and adding miles is that each ride fuels the blog by inspiring new posts and allowing me to hit my goals as a writer.
This is also the year I lost 90 pounds, so that helps make it a great year too. I did gain back 15 of those pounds recently, but that is okay, I can lose them again. I went from 365 to 275 and back to 290. I lost a little focus around the holidays and a busy stretch at work and lost some of my progress, but the nice thing about losing the weight the second time is I know I can do it. I lost it the first time. My fitness goals are closely aligned with my cycling goals. If I ride 4000 miles this year, I will lose weight. If I am riding 4000 miles this year I will be able to run more mud races. If I run more mud races I will lose weight. I want to find a healthy weight that allows me to ride and run mud races. II don’t know what that weight is, but if I can lose another 50 pounds this year that would be very close. I haven’t weighed less than 250 pounds since, well, longer than I can remember. Hand in hand with the weight loss goal, and another fitness goal, is to keep running. Well jogging. Well, really, more just moving slightly faster than a walk. I don’t enjoy running, but I did enjoy my first mud run. I can’t wait to do another one. I have a little group that I run with and we hope to team up with www.wickedmuddy.com for at least a couple of races this year.
Speaking of teaming up, I would like to do a meet up this year at the 5 Boro Tour. I am hoping that a couple of friends make the trip down to New York City with me and I hope that I can meet a few more. I am going to try to set something up to meet the night before the ride, possibly at a restaurant or bar where we can all have dinner and talk. I would also like to start selling Big Joe’s Soapbox shirts as a way to fund the site. I like to do some cycling product review from time to time as well as ride reports. It would be nice to bring a little money into the blog to offset what I spend on hosting, riding, and buying products to review. Drop me a line or comment if you would be interested in either a meet up or the shirt idea so I can get an idea if it would be worth pursuing either.
Finally it wouldn’t be a look back through the year if I didn’t mention that my family lost a close friend as well as a family member. I wrote about both, but the passing of Ed Cunningham hit me again as I made a reservation for New Year’s Eve. Last year he joined my friends and family at the party and making the reservation brought back those good memories. This year it will be a little bittersweet as we remember our friend that isn’t there.
It’s been a great year. Thank you for sharing some of your time with me, from the bottom of my heart.