2013: Adversity and Adventure


It has been quite a year. We capped it in style, off the bike and on the beach, spending a few days in Miami and roaming around the warm Florida sun wherever our fancy took us. This trip was for rest and respite, not for riding, yet given all the tumult that I’ve dealt with in 2013, I’ve still accomplished quite a bit.

Believe it or not, I spent more time in 2013 off the bike than on. My layoff early in the year was for three months, and it has now been four months since I last touched wheel to pavement. Between these rest periods, I spent my time wisely, making sure to get the most out of my mileage and still accomplish some of my goals. The numbers were not as impressive as last year. I squeaked out just over 2,000 miles, but I made them count.

Since this year has been so different than previous years, I’m going to wrap it up differently. Rather than ranking my favorite rides and climbs, I’m just going to fondly remember my favorite moments on or off the bike.

Top ten lists are cliché, so this one is going to 11.

11. Swamp Rabbit Trail

A relaxing solo ride on this popular Greenville trail may seem mundane to many of my upstate readers, but I had a great time riding easily around the city, getting my riding legs back.

10. New Bike

This one is bittersweet because my injuries prevented me from getting too familiar with the new bike. It’s still a great feeling to add to the stable, and it’s still here, awaiting the adventures to come.

9. Jackson Brevet

I had a great time at this extremely well organized century with my good friend Jack. If I were making a ride list, this would probably make the top just because of the passion that Robert brought to the event. Of all new to me rides in 2013, this is the one I would recommend to others.

8. Tour de Cure

A blistery and overcast day it might have been, but it was also the first century of the year. Having good company who waited on my weakened fitness made it all the better. As it turned out, this would be a stepping stone for bigger and better things.

7. Tour d’Apple

This turned out to be my last century of the year, and the last mountain(s) that I would climb. We were confused all day with the turns, but it was a nice riding day with Laurie, a new friend.

6. Las Vegas

The goal was to get some riding into this trip, but insanely hot temperatures above 115 and some rental bike issues changed those plans. Instead we did stuff that you should do in Vegas, like eat lots of food, drink beer, and walk endlessly. The only thing we didn’t do was gamble. It turned out to be some good quality time with my wife and family.

5. Lounging in Florida

This was my type of White Christmas.

This was my type of White Christmas.

There was no blog post about this one because, well, I just didn’t feel like it. We headed to South Beach to recuperate and that’s what we did. This was for relaxation, not for work, and that included the blog and other distractions. I came back refreshed and ready for the New Year.

4. Blue Ridge Breakaway

This is one of my favorite rides, and I was glad to return, but the way it happened this year turned out to be a funny story. Spooked by the weather, I hadn’t planned to go. A cold woke me up in the middle of the night and, on a whim, I made the trip anyway, riding 100 miles in what turned out to be dry weather.

3. Brevard Weekend

The second of Neil’s annual trips was a blast, even if I wasn’t altogether ready for heavy riding. I still managed to get in a few hills, including a repeat of the Assault on the Carolinas route. This limited spinning prepared me for the next entry.

2. Assault on Mount Mitchell

After such a long layoff, it was a marvel and a thrill to even finish this event. It may have been more than an hour slower than last year, and I had to clench my teeth some to tough it out through some pain, but I succeeded. Of all three Mitchell successes, this was the most rewarding.

1. Blue Ridge Parkway

Who would have thunk that my favorite event of the year would be me watching other people ride across (arguably) the most scenic byway in the USA? At times I enjoyed the quiet and solitude, and at others I enjoyed supporting and enjoying the experience through others. One day I’ll be back under my own power. Hopefully next year.

Have a Happy New Year everybody! Thanks for sharing this year with me.

17 responses to “2013: Adversity and Adventure

  • bgddyjim

    Hope ’14 brings with it much more time on the bike brother. Happy New Year.

  • Jim Brennan

    Nice job, Aaron. You’ve been through a tough year, and I’m wishing you a healthy 2014. I’m going through my first injury in four years, and sitting still is maddening. I just ducked out of my first ultra-marathon, and it killed me to abandon running it. But as everyone else is advising me, get healthy for another day. I did my first century last year, and your blog was helpful to me. Thank you, and keep it up.

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Jim. I saw that you were hurt and hate it for you. It’s not easy for us to go from such an active lifestyle to the couch. I remember a wise marathon runner once telling me that injuries are a sign that’s our body needs to rest. 🙂

      Let’s hope we both heal up fast in 2014.

  • Frank Burns

    I wish you more pedalled miles in 2014, and the winds of life to be at your back.

  • Neil Turner

    Aaron. I a flattered our Brevard weekend
    made your list. I hope we can get together
    to ride some this year.

    • aaronwest

      Neil, I always treasure the rides and get together a you’ve put together. I would love to travel to the upstate once I get healed up. You guys might have to wait for me on a few summits.

  • kevinmayne

    SteepClimbs crossed my mind when I was walking up the Koppenberg yesterday, trying to kick off a good cycling year with a toosteepclimb.

    I wish you every success in getting your year going well too, you deserve a break.

    • aaronwest

      Ahhh, that’s a nice climb to start the year! I envy the experience. Thanks for the well wishes. I’m going to have a long break and look forward to some more exotic steep climbs again in the future.

  • kurt

    Just found your blog.
    2013 has been a difficult year for me as well. I was very sick 3 times in four months and eventually found myself in the ER at 3AM with Asthma.
    After working my way back on the bike and riding enough to start riding metric centuries I was diagnosed with bulging disks.
    I had been suffering with pain with it’s origin in the hip and eventually radiating down the leg to the knee. I thought it was muscular pain. Stretching , massage, etc seem to provide temporary relief. When I could no longer dress myself (and still planning to commute to workmind you) my wife refferred me to a therapist practicing the Mackenzie method. Three bulging disks were responsible for the pain. I know manage the pain with daily excercises.
    The therapist has seen a lot of doctor mis-diagnosis that ended with unnecessary surgery without resolve.
    Cycling happens to aggrevate the situation. I still ride but must preform the excercise before and after every ride.
    If you contact me I can send you this guys information.
    I finished the year by coompleteing the Festive 500 in four rides.
    Good luck and prosperity in the new year.

    • aaronwest

      Hi Kurt, sorry to hear about the tough year you had, but sounds like you are managing it pretty well.

      Hip pain can be the result of a number of different conditions. Bulging disks and lower back problems were tested and ruled out. They did so many diagnostics that we’re pretty confident that the culprit is in the exact hip joint. Now they’ve decided to operate and I can only hope that it isn’t unnecessary, but I’m fairly certain it’ll be successful.

    • Andrew

      Hi Kurt,

      Sounds like we have very similar back issues and having had a MRI my doctor wants me to see a neurosurgeon which I don’t want any part of. I sure would be interested in your PT if you are from the AVL area.

      Best of riding to all this year. Looking forward to kicking it off with AOTC.

  • Zeke Yount

    Still one of my highlights of the year was seeing your face at 6:30 am at registration for the Blue Ridge Breakaway. I am also still amazed that you turned around and drove back to Columbia that afternoon. Surely, that was some kind of record for you! We’ll look forward to your return to health in the near future and then to the Breakaway in August! My best to you during your surgery and rehab…

    • aaronwest

      And one of my highlights was your reaction to seeing my face at 6:30am. It was hilarious. That was a tiring weekend on many levels. I forget the circumstances, but I had to be back home that Sunday. If anything like this ever happens again, I’ll get a hotel for the Saturday.

      I am hopeful to make this year’s Breakaway. I may give the metric a try this year.


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