Not quite the same as our 2008 (racing) season in review thread back in the fall, I figure I'd crosspost a year end summary of my own experiences that I posted on my blog. Feel free to post your own, as short or long as you like!
Hopefully you all had a good year as wellThis post was inspired by this one on Jeff Kerkove's blog.
Best bike used in '08: the True North Cycles 29er, of course. I loved my cross bike too, but the True North was most excellent, living up to everything I wanted it to.
Best new bike component: this is a tough one since I used so much new stuff this season, but I think it has to go to my Chris King/Stans Arch 29er wheelset. This is kind of cheating since the rims and hubs were both special in their own way (and I have another set of the Stan's rims on other wheels) but in combination they're a fantastic set of wheels. The King hubs are not the lightest, but they are solid performers, easy to service and look great. The Arch 29er rims are sufficiently light, and provide a solid platform to mount a tubeless setup on. I may even cheat a bit further and plug the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs in this one, as this wheel/tire combination was about as perfect as I can imagine with light weight, low rolling resistance and good grip.
Best new cycling apparel: another tough call, but it goes to the Sidi Dominator 5 shoes. I won't go into whether or not Sidi shoes are as good as they're made out to be, or whether they're worth the price tag - for me the point is that I have a wide foot, and the Sidi Megas are one of the few shoes that fit them properly. They're very comfortable, stiff enough, and the fit alone is worth the price to me. It doesn't hurt that they're among the most stylish cycling footwear available. I only wish they'd make the Mega width in white...
Best online retailer: though my order was barely inside '08 just a week ago, I'll give this one to Total Cycling in the UK for their combination of good prices, reasonable postage and fast delivery. I had to make a change in my order after it was placed, and with a quick phone call it was done and without any problems. A mentionable 2nd place goes to Universal Cycles in Portland, OR for consistently good service on many orders, and a great web interface. Their prices are average, but with coupon codes which are readily available, they offer competitive pricing while having the best web store for letting you know what is in stock, when it will ship and how much postage will be.
Best race attended: I think this has to go to the Life$tyle$ of the Rich and Famou$ 24h race. Though it's a little more money than the big events, it's hard to argue with a 24h race that provides warm accommodations and meals. The small number of participants keeps things casual, and this race is about as fun as they get while remaining competitive.
Best race performance: both in placing and in the way I felt, definitely the Subway 'Cross event that ended the (official) season for 'cross in Southern Ontario. I had a good race and after a good start with the lead group, dropped back into 3rd wheel and held it to the end. Runner up would be Paul's Dirty Enduro (3okm version). I went into this with no expectations (I was actually just going to hang out until a decision 30 minutes before the start) and ended up 5th in my age group. I'll definitely consider going back for the 60k next year.
Best race watched on TV/internet: 2008 CX worlds, I guess. There were a lot of good races, but this one was very exciting with Boom's dominant performance, and it was one that helped build my interest in 'cross when I was just getting into the idea of trying it.
Best "I don't think I'm going to make it" moment: probably on the Hamilton Endurance Ride (Round 2) undertaken by some MTBR Eastern Ontario forum people, led by our good friend Jeff. It was one of the toughest rides I've done with all the climbing (1250m), and just the sheer distance covered offroad (~95km). It was pretty warm that day too, and I was having trouble keeping enough food down to fuel myself. A near bonk experience bailed out by a bottle of Coke topped off the day. I don't think I would have finished a ride like that without the good company of the folks I was with.
Best all around ride: this one, based on the fact that it was blogworthy on its own, and all the reasons I gave in that post.
That's all I've got for now. I think it sums up the year pretty well; hopefully 2009 will bring more good experiences.