Along for the Ride: Find inspiration to make your 2022 biking goals happen

  • Armaline Mirretti, Ellen Weber and Kelli Morgan enjoy 62 miles of the Cardinal Greenway, Indiana's longest rail-trail near Muncie, on the Ride Across America route.

    Armaline Mirretti, Ellen Weber and Kelli Morgan enjoy 62 miles of the Cardinal Greenway, Indiana's longest rail-trail near Muncie, on the Ride Across America route. Courtesy of Kelli Morgan

 
By Ralph Banasiak
Along For the Ride
Posted1/21/2022 6:00 AM

Ambitious biking goals, inspirational in January, can fall victim to many obstacles -- medical, family, pandemic.

That's my take anyway after a spring knee injury slammed my modest 2021 goals: 10% more elevation, 7% mileage increase. Life sometimes gets in the way.

 

Not true for everyone, though, as responses to my "How did you do?" email revealed. Cyclists who shared their 2021 results found fewer goals courted more success, specificity delineated attainment or flop, and cycling with partners seemed key.

A club vice president with a Tour de France mileage goal stumbled when work, babysitting and vaccine reaction interfered. Without enough training, the century goal faltered, as did celebrating a birthday in "age miles." Yet, he insisted on setting TdF mileage again for 2022's goal. Hope springs eternal.

In contrast, Bert Travis, designer of "Start Seeing Bicycles" lawn signs, achieved his goal: Cycling from Boston to New York, raising $3,500 for the four-day Tour de Force. Launched after 9/11, this fundraiser assists families of law enforcement officers killed on duty. Travis's secret: "I was able to get my old buddy trained up again."

Armaline Mirretti, Elmhurst Bicycle Club Advocacy co-chair, reports that club publicity and newsletter editor Kelli Morgan, plus others, helped her initiate the Ride Across America route. She did more than just start, logging more than 400 miles covering eight Rails-to-Trails segments in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

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Great partners make a difference

"Kelli is a great navigator with a really good sense of direction," said Mirretti. "We've been riding together since I joined the club in 2012, early mornings at least three days a week.

"Kelli actually grew up three blocks from the Cardinal Greenway Trail, so she was extremely familiar with it and really took care of mapping from Indiana into Ohio and the entire ride in Ohio."

Rob Erickson, Dan Wiessner and Bill Kragh pause near Big Raccoon Creek and Bridgeton, Indiana's covered bridge, on Kragh's weeklong riding goal.
Rob Erickson, Dan Wiessner and Bill Kragh pause near Big Raccoon Creek and Bridgeton, Indiana's covered bridge, on Kragh's weeklong riding goal. - Courtesy of Bill Kragh

Bill Kragh, coordinator of Arlington Heights Bicycle Club's recent 50th anniversary, happily notes reaching his pledge to ride 3,650 miles for the seventh year in a row, 10 miles per day. Result: 4,015 miles, 11 miles per day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I also managed a weeklong, self-supported ride in Indiana with two others. We rode a triangle covering Marion, Indianapolis and Richmond, following many rail-trails: Cardinal Greenway, Monon Trail, Pennsy Trail.

"Having fellow riders on self-supported trips are essential," Kragh said. "You encourage them on their down days. They encourage you on yours. In 40 years of trips, I've only ridden alone twice. It's so much more enjoyable to share the experience. Practical, too, for safety and health."

Bike Palatine Club's casual ride leader Tom Lucas accomplished several goals: Resume group rides, surpass 2020 mileage and complete RAGBRAI. Another club member accompanied him for the seven days in July crossing Iowa.

In Schaumburg, Allison Albrecht, director of Communications & Outreach, reached her goal "of increasing my mileage from 2020, starting my biking in May, and closing out the season in late September."

Her goal of venturing to Busse Woods still remains a goal, though she did "explore more of the North Central DuPage Regional Trail, including Meacham Grove and Spring Creek Reservoir -- both trails I'd never ridden before."

Rob Weiss, former Joliet Bicycle Club president, set a goal of 750 riders for their July Fourth Metric Century Plus. "The ride was very successful. We had over 800 participants," he said.

Individual plus organizational goals

Ride Illinois Executive Director Dave Simmons had one personal goal and one for the statewide, nonprofit bike advocacy organization. He notched both, personally logging more trips by bike and "further reducing dependence on a car, some trips short -- grocery shopping, errands -- some longer, like riding to Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History for a community ride."

His longer term organizational goal is to change cycling's image from a Lycra-clad weekend warrior sport to "everyday, practical transportation accessible to and enjoyed by most Illinois residents."

In 2021, Ride Illinois initiated a program of organized casual rides, "slow rolls in and around a community where one gets a true sense of the area, as well as the people who live there."

Sheri Rosenbaum, TrekHP Women's Advocate program (Highland Park) also achieved personal and organizational goals, hitting her 6,000-mile goal with a season-ending New Year's Eve ride.

As for growing her women's cycling group, Sunflowers and Pedals, and encouraging them to exit their comfort zones, she concedes, "the pandemic has been a challenge, but the group continues to grow." She hosted a fall gravel ride for those new to gravel.

Surprisingly, almost everyone I contacted, successful or not, offered me riding goals for 2022. Goals seem compelling. Missing them, even by inches, inflames can-do-better thinking. Achieving them inspires tougher targets.

I know that's true for me. But I need help getting back on track. Please share your 2022 riding goals with me.

Late braking news

Need cycling inspiration in the winter cold? The Bicycle Film Festival, New York, features short films from around the world and is available virtually until Jan. 30. No need for hand warmers or balaclavas while streaming!

Sharing the road

Ride Illinois Safely's free monthly safety course takes place on Zoom Jan. 27.
Ride Illinois Safely's free monthly safety course takes place on Zoom Jan. 27. - Courtesy of Ride Illinois

On Jan. 27, Ride Illinois presents its free bicycle-friendly driver course via Zoom, a one-hour webinar titled "Whose Lane is It?" A monthly offering, it focuses on the Illinois Rules of the Road, sharing the road, bike infrastructure, and causes of common crashes. Check the Ride Illinois Safely webinar registration website, rideillinois.org.

• Join the ride. Contact Ralph Banasiak at alongfortheridemail@gmail.com.

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