That was the year that was (with apologies to Tom Lehrer)

January saw a tour of duty on the COVID unit and 20% of all patients in “my” hospital being COVID+. I spent a lot of time on the lake skiing or skating.

February saw COVID burn its way through our therapy department.

March was when I tapped the maple tree in my front yard and rode in shorts one day (73ºF, 23ºC), then in snow and 34º weather (1ºC) three days later.

April saw me giving up my bikes, kayak, and canoe for sports cars and a power boat in an April Fool post that fooled no one. It also marked my last tour of duty in the COVID-19 units, just after I announced my retirement.

May was for getting me and the bike ready for a major journey and tying up loose ends at work.

June was retirement, embarking on a coast-to-coast bike trip, contracting COVID-19, and almost giving up on the trip. On the morning of June 24, after 312 miles in three days, I wasn’t feeling great, though it was a beautiful morning. I rode in a paceline, pulled by two of the stronger riders in the group. I knew something was up but wasn’t ready to face the facts. Climbing Thompson Pass on my own, I knew I had COVID. I stopped at the County Health Department in Thompson Falls for a COVID test so I would show up in official statistics. They were closed. I tested postive in camp and took the next day (and half of the next week) off.

July marked my comeback. I made it over Teton Pass and decided I was in it for the duration. I celebrated my return with two flat tires on the 4th. July was marked by extremes of temperature and vicious wind storms, as well as COVID raging through the ranks of riders. It also included the most beautiful scenery of the trip and the pictures which made it onto jerseys and posters.

Endless gravel climb in South Dakota
Badlands photo by Adrian Amelse

The rain came harder and I stopped to put on a rain jacket. I also scarfed a bar, figuring I needed all the calories I could stuff into me for the final push. I figure that when 80% of the ride is behind me, I’ve got it made. Just past that point, the crosswind became too strong to ride safely. I feared I would be pushed into traffic. I got off and walked. A few more seconds and it was no longer safe to walk. Another few seconds and I could no longer stand. I crouched at the roadside and the wind picked up my bike. I was holding it by the top tube and it was standing out horizontally away from me at shoulder height, wheels toward the highway. If I let go, it would fly away. I would likely not see it again. I held on and got as low as possible to try to keep myself from becoming airborne along with the bike.

half-fast cycling club 24 July, 2022
The second or third windiest day of the month

August saw the hell of Michigan, even though we didn’t go through the town of Hell, Michigan. A few days to cross Ontario, a glorious week of the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes in New York (as well as a night in a milita stronghold of a campground), and arrival at the east coast.

September was to adjust to the idea of being retired without the structure of a coast-to-coast ride. A century ride in Door County and a new appreciation for bikes after flat tires on cars. The first of two (because we can, being retired, and because we couldn’t find a date we could all make) fall color rides.

October made me appreciate bikes even more with an expensive car repair in the works. The second of two fall color rides came the day after our first snowfall.

November started absurdly warm, with temperatures in the 70s (>21 C) to extend the long-distance riding season. The 15th saw the first accumulation of snow, with ski resorts set to open that weekend. I joined the ranks of indoor riders, buying a trainer (discontinued, on sale). I bought my previous trainer used 30 years ago.

December stayed warm longer than usual. Snow and cold arrived with a vengeance mid-month. I rode indoors (testing the new trainer) more than outdoors. One benefit of being retired was watching the last public meeting of the House committee investigating the failed coup of January 6, 2020. They recommended criminal charges against the former president, including conspiring to defraud the US, obstructing an official proceeding, and inciting, assisting, or giving aid and comfort to insurrection. And I finished the year with a performance of “Guys on Ice”, that ode to ice fishing and the guys who spend their winters in a shanty, sitting on an upside-down five gallon bucket looking into a hole in the ice. They taught us, in song, that “Leinenkugel’s beer ain’t just for breakfast anymore.” We celebrated the new year with a glass of Prosecco at midnight GMT.

“Who’s Next?” – Tom Lehrer on nuclear proliferation, 1965. From the album “That Was the Year That Was”.

Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us rode coast to coast across the US. It was so much fun, he's doing it again in 2022! If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

16 thoughts on “That was the year that was (with apologies to Tom Lehrer)”

  1. You definitely had quite the year, Steve! Congratulations once again. I think I have seen “Guys on Ice” at least five or six times if not more. Love it. Happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems to be on its way to becoming a tradition around here like watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I think we only saw it in the summer once or twice but seems to be a Christmas/New Year tradition now that Lou and Peter have retired.

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  2. I can’t see film of Jan 6 without tearing up. That day permanently changed me and taught me the true meaning of impotence. OTHERWISE great song — you have had a pretty eventful year. I loved following along on your bike ride.

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    1. We’ve lived through three televised events ( one I mostly heard on radio because I was in the mountains) that have influenced me and I don’t think I can say I’m happy to have lived through them – the Watergate, Iran-Contra, and insurrection hearings. Those just a bit older could add the McCarthy hearing, though I don’t think that was on live TV (and if it had been, I don’t think we had a TV yet).

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  3. I didn’t know it, but I came here for the Tom Lehrer and discovered a trove I’d never heard. Most wonderful. Grew up hearing a few of the albums. Great stuff!

    Oh yeah, pretty good year up there, save for the Covid, bike nearly flying away, other extreme weather, flats, and the like. Nice work surviving all that and biking across the country. Since it wasn’t on Strava we don’t know if it really happened. But assuming it did, any clue on the distance?

    All seriousness aside, glad you’re still at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The official distance was 4320 miles, I think. Since I was sick I missed some miles but finished the trip at a bit over 4000 miles. Those numbers are probably in the blog in August but I don’t care enough to go look. I don’t even recall how many BFUs (Big Fun Units) I recorded. I just know I had a good time for the first two months of my retirement despite spending a week sick. In fact, being sick made it special in a different way. As for Strava, I have no desire for another piece of software to track my every move – and to pay someone to record my every move, yet! Tracking on my phone is turned off for everything except a few apps where it is on only when in use (like so I can find where I am on a map). I get a kick out of people who say that if it isn’t on Strava it didn’t happen. That would mean the first 50 years I spent riding a bike didn’t happen – that I didn’t get up at 4:30 every morning for four years (1967-70) and ride to deliver 100+ newspapers before school, that none of the loaded touring I did actually happened because Strava wasn’t invented yet, that I didn’t commute to school by bike when I moved out of the district my senior year. (OK, that last one is only partly true. Sometimes I walked or hitchhiked and was late.)

      Thanks for the well wishes.

      Lehrer had written songs for a TV show called “That Was the Week That Was” (sort of like a precursor to John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” but with skits, or like Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” if it took up the whole show). The show was based on a British show of the same title that had aired earlier. He assembled the songs into a live show that was recorded for the album “That Was the Year That Was”. I’ll admit that, when I first heard them at age 12, I didn’t get all of the jokes and sometimes laughed when my dad laughed.

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      1. The Strava line is just a joke, and nit very funny actually. That’s cool you kept track. It is an interesting and impressive metric. Took me all year wvwry day to make 5,008.

        Great mileage and Tom Lehrer info, thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Coming from you, I thought it might be (at least partly) a joke, though I know you take your data seriously. (I take data with a sip of water and a bit of salt.) I also know there are people wedded to their Garmins and Strava and actually seem to believe they need the validation of a computer to prove they’ve done something, so I thought I’d respond in kind and remind those young whippersnappers that bikes have been around a lot longer than handlebar-mounted computers.

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      3. Well, you’re not wrong that numbers do motivate me — for better or worse. More the latter lately, tbh. You’d think the more miles the better the health, etc. But that’s not really the case. Still, I figure I’m putting in the work, I deserve some credit. But in the end quality matters more than quantity.

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