Friday, May 22, 2009

Miles, Schmiles and a Question

I stopped keeping track of my miles a while ago. When I was just riding one bike, the computer knew the whole story but then I was introduced to mountain biking and never put a computer on that bike. Of course in the winter you need a beater and for a while I dutifully transfered the computer back and forth between the road bike and the commuter. Then I seemed to lose interest in keeping on top of it.

I asked myself why I cared about the miles and didn't really have an answer. I'm a data geek by trade and know there's no point collecting data you don't intend to use.

Short term mileage tracking makes sense to understand how my training is progressing and when I need a recovery day or to make sure I am getting enough protein and liquids for the effort I am putting out. I occasionally wear the heart monitor, partly because I am still trying to figure out what my max is. I've seen a 184 multiple times but haven't been able to check it when I really feel like I am really pushing the limit. I have noticed that my heart rate when keeping pace is dropping down into the low 140's when it used to be in the mid to upper 150's.

So what's the point? I seem to be having many weeks in a row where I ride more than 200 miles and it's got me a bit curious as to where my odometer is/would be if I were actually keeping track. I've got a new gig and the commute will put me around 170 miles a week without any social rides.

And there will be social rides...

Back in the early 70's there were some years that I figured I put in somewhere around ten thousand miles. Back then computers barely fit in a semi truck(!) so the mileage was a guesstimate but 10K seems like some sort of milestone I should be aware of if I am approaching it. If a cyclist pedals ten thousand miles (through the forest) does anybody care?

I know some folks publish their mileage on their blogs and I'm curious what the motivation is to keep track of the mileage in the first place whether you publish the numbers or not. Perhaps I'm just lazy but it seems like a lot of work but since lots of folks do it, there must be a reward to them.

So here's the question:

What motivates you to track your mileage?


What prevents you from tracking your mileage?

For me it seems that by the time I finish the 'recovery' beer, it's just not important enough to manage the record keeping but perhaps I'm missing something...


  1. Nice post. I too in the 70's did the 10,000 mile thing in wool with leather shoes and steel everything else.

    I was being a fool for the millage/heartrate/cadence bit but now I ride without. Feels a whole lot more fun this way.

    I don't think you're missing a thing.


  2. I find when I had a computer I was always trying to up the average speed rather than riding how I felt.
    Since I'm long past any competition I took the computer off and now my bike is about an ounce lighter so I must be faster.

  3. Keeping track of mileage? It's an obsessive/compulsive thing. I keep it all in an Excel spreadsheet I designed. Miles, weather, intensity of effort, route, weight, pulse, everything. It now has 20 years recorded in it. I can go to just about any date, read my entries, and remember the ride. And by that, I mean that specific ride. And now, there's the training aspect of it. Miles are just one component. It probably still comes back to being O/C, though. It's easier to be one's self when one knows who one is... or the other... so just go with it.

  4. Bluenoser - Thanks! Ah, back in the day yes but fun is really my primary motivation. Ran into a rider I hadn't seen for a while today, when asked if he is riding much he said 'only training rides, not any rides that are fun'. It underscored how much I don't want to be that guy.

    Bandobras - I do sometimes find myself competing against the computer; I never win and it never cares.

    Badger - I suppose it's my own O/C tendency that inspires me to ask the question.

  5. I used to keep track of miles. It seems my interest in keeping track of miles went away when I started not caring if I was riding fast in a pace line or not. Once I got out of the roadie, "It's all about weight and speed" mindset and started riding much longer, touring type of rides I stopped caring about how far I've ridden.

    Just ride, man!

  6. Ride the bike, ride the bike, ride the bike...
    -Fausto Coppi

  7. I have logged all of my miles on an internet site since 2005. I can't tell you what the number is though.