That was a year, I guess

A nearly empty Highway 36 in March of 2020

I'm back for my now-customary year-end blog post. A few hours ago I was thinking I should hurry up and process a bunch of photos to include here, and I should gather some statistics about how much I rode my bicycle, or how many hours of TV and movies I watched. But now I'm writing and I haven't done any of that. I think that's 2020 in a nutshell -- a year in which big plans were set aside in favor of just getting through the basics.

I sort of remember the part of 2020 before March 13, but not very well. I was working, as usual, and I made a couple trips around the state to visit schools. A few of those trips involved snowstorms, which were things people had to deal with when they still left their homes. But then the pandemic spread, and everything changed. By late February and early March, I ramped up my grocery shopping and prepared for a long stay at home. I guess you could say I saw it coming, but like most people, I was surprised at how quickly the pandemic took over. It felt like we went from "there are some people stick on a cruise ship" to "2020 is cancelled" in about a week. No NBA, no March Madness, and the one that really got me, no NCAA wrestling tournament. UNI had a #1 seed in Taylor Lujan, and I still feel bad that he never got a chance to make a run at a title.

I was in no mood to mess with the coronavirus. As a cyclist, any potential decrease in respiratory function seemed like a good thing to avoid. It was a relief when the department let us work from home. I'm fortunate enough to have a home office with fiber internet and a lot of experiencing navigating work through videoconference and shared documents, so that part was relatively easy. If anything was difficult, it was that schools and teachers went into survival mode and under that stress, communication suffered. "Doing the best we can" took on a whole new meaning. I think we all did what we could to get through April and May. I had a few health issues that needed attention, but none were COVID-19. One issue likely had to do with too much couch time and too little exercise, so that's at best tangentially related to the pandemic.

A view from RAGBRAI in Colorado on July 23

A couple things helped get me into and through the summer. The biggest thing for me is that I'm quite well-adapted for staying home alone for long stretches of time. Mentally, that's not really a struggle. Another thing that helped is that I purchased a smart trainer for my bicycle in March. I got set up with Zwift and was able to build fitness like I normally would going into the summer months but without leaving home. I know I could have ridden more outdoors, but it was nice to be able to jump on the trainer for a quick ride whenever I felt like it. Ride the Rockies was cancelled. It would have been my first. RAGBRAI in Iowa was also cancelled, but they replaced it with a virtual event. I rode all the miles I would have ridden in Iowa here in Colorado. It certainly wasn't the same, but it felt good to spend a week on the bike and explore a lot of new local territory. If you want to read more, I wrote about and posted photos for each day here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, and Day 7.

The only thing I seem to remember about August is that I worked a ton of hours. Some of that was to catch up for time missed while riding, but more of it was to get things done as the new school year began. Wildfires got bad as we got into the fall. It was probably a good thing that I got my outdoor riding out of my system in late July because the air quality was so bad for much of September through November that I wouldn't have wanted to ride outside anyway. I did make an exception at the end of September to ride to the top of Mount Evans. The road from Echo Lake had been closed to cars for the summer due to the pandemic, which offered cyclists a great opportunity to make the climb without traffic. It's really not a difficult climb in terms of steepness, but with the thin air I had to manage my effort and take a reasonable pace. The reward was being able to spend time on the summit completely by myself, which is not something most people get to experience on the summit of Evans.

An especially bad air quality day on October 16

Holiday time has been a lot more home alone time. Family isn't far away, but I'm still not taking any chances. Mostly, I'm sticking to a routine. I started a 6-week training plan in Zwift, which should help bring my fitness up as the new year begins. I have my binge watching down to an art, which does absolutely nothing for fitness but does help pass the time. I try to go for groceries once a month and minimize my time in the grocery store. Otherwise, I'm not going much of anywhere. And that's still fine, although I'm certainly looking for a 2021 that finishes on a more positive note than the way most of 2020 has gone.

A few stats to remember 2020 by, now that I had a chance to look them up:

  • Total cycling: 2168 miles (compared to about 2300 miles driven)
  • Zwift cycling: 1378 miles
  • TV watched: 546 hours
  • Movies watched: 143 hours
  • Binge-watched shows: Barney Miller, Veronica Mars, The Good Place, Ray Donovan, Veep, The Handmaid's Tale
  • Songs scrobbled: 2313
  • Most listened-to artist: Cannons
  • Most listened-to album: Shadows by Cannons
  • Most listened-to track: Shadows by Cannons

See you in 2021!

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