Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How Many Miles?

Polar S720i
I came across a blog post the other day, A few spokes shy of a wheel, and this cyclist had been tracking his mileage for 25 years and knew he had hit the 100,000 miles cycled milestone.  Reading about this stirred up all kinds of emotions in me; admiration that this person had hit such a milestone, regret that I had not kept better track of my miles, and indifference as I had turned away from being too metric driven about my cycling years ago and I thought it had changed my time on the bike for the better.

I rediscovered cycling as an adult in 1999, a friend called up and said "lets go for a ride!" I said that sounded nice but I didn't have a bike and he replied "I got it covered".  He came over with a hybrid or Mountain bike, I don't recall which and we went for a ride on the Burke Gilman trail which was only a few blocks away from where I lived at the time.  I do recall struggling up the "hill" back to my house which I discovered later was basically just a false flat.

an STP Mob

That led to deciding to ride the STP or Seattle to Portland bike ride as a new years resolution for 2000, the STP is a 200 mile, 2 day supported ride that happens every July.  I had by then purchased a Motiv Mountain bike from Costco because I didn't know any better , I thought  converting the knobbies to road tires would work just fine....  When I started riding in the spring of 2000 I noticed that when my buddy on his road bike and I were on rolling hills he could out coast me on the descent and then be halfway up the next hill before he had to pedal, whereas my momentum was spent as soon as the uphill started.  I very quickly realized I was going to need all the help I could get and so I dropped a load of cash on a Cannondale R800 road bike.

My Cannondale
And that started me on the path to riding distances, tracking them and working out so I could ride them faster.  By about 2008 or 2009  riding my bike was feeling like a chore and I went the other way and chucked the wired approach (with a Polar S720i cycling computer and all the gear I was wired all right) and start riding to enjoy it!  I noticed houses I had cycled past a hundred times without registering saw bald eagles, took in the awesome views around my neighborhood rides that I had been missing because I was heads down focused on my average speed, cadence and heart rate.  That eventually led me to a Steel bike and a love for Vintage bikes and this blog.

I had all the gear
So for me anyway, not worrying about mileage and all the other stuff was a good thing so why was I so stirred up by this blog post about milestones , does it really matter how many miles I have cycled or not?  And even if I really wanted to know the Polar was sold years ago, and any computer or binder I would have logged mileage in was long gone so I couldn't know even if I wanted to.  These days I just have a simple Cateye wireless computer that I don't even bother to set for each trip, I just ride.

I am, however, prone to obsessing about things so I started to recount rides I had done and trained for (STP,  Haleakala, Metric Centuries), bike commuting that I had done to various jobs, found an old account on MapMyRide that filled in some gaps for 2008-2011 and looked through some old emails and Facebook to capture a few other miles and kilometers.  I very conservatively estimated that from late 1999 to date I have ridden at least 3500 miles, I know that is way under reported and I will never really know for sure if I have done double that or  maybe just a few extra hundred miles.  In the end I am where I am, even if I knew I had done 10,000 miles of riding previously that wouldn't change the fact that I am a guy trying to pedal more these days and regain some semblance of fitness.

How many miles?  I'll never know but I do know that I will continue to Ride.Smile and Repeat.


  1. Good post and good for you. The riding is supposed to be about fun. I am the first to admit that one man's fun is another man's torture. I assume all the fast freds pounding out the miles with 21MPH averages are having fun for them. So be it.
    Keep riding Ryan!!

  2. Exactly Jim, it boils down to what is fun for you? I used to have very specific ideas about what the "right bike" was what the "right type of ride" was and then as I wised up it came to me that what was important is whether the bike you're riding puts a smile on your face be it a beach cruiser, MTB, Vintage steed, Super Carbon roadie whatever...does it make you smile? If there are Fast Freds then I am a Glacial George and I'm fine with that. Hope you get in some more riding before the snow starts flying there in Colorado Jim.