Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ride your bike. Log your miles.

Here we are in July. This year is now half over and the riding season is in full swing. It's hard to extrapolate data without a complicated formula like the Treasury Secretary is using to calculate jobs saved, but a quick glance at your log book will give you an idea how many miles you are likely to have in by the end of the year. What's that? I thought I heard someone say they didn't keep a log book. Really? Why not?

Keeping a log book is easy, and it's as much a part of cycling as keeping your chain lubricated. Oh. You don't lube your chain either. I see.

I don't suppose any of you use checkbooks and debit cards without recording every transaction. Do you? No. Very soon you will be paying overdraft fees at the bank. Sure, it's a hassle, but it's much less of a hassle than dealing with those fees. And when the statement comes into your inbox, do you take the time to reconcile it with your transaction records? Of course you do. A log book is not much different.

Logging your miles (or kilometers) doesn't have to be difficult or complicated. Just logging the date and distance in a small spiral notebook would be a good start. Even if you only have one bike, and you use your bike computer to keep track of the total distance, you still have to reset it every year, or record each year's mileage if you want to know your annual mileage.

Record keeping is an integral part of our lives. You record every debit transaction and reconcile your electronic bank statement on some regular basis. You invest money and keep track of those symbols on the NYSE or at least look at the quarterly statements you receive. You attempt to lose weight by paying attention to the amount/type of food you eat and then you weigh yourself occasionally. For some of us, record keeping is a detailed inventory of our lives, but for everyone who want to be successful, record keeping in some form is essential.

I am aware that there is a spectrum of cyclists. Someone who owns a bicycle and rides it around the cul-de-sac with their kids on Friday night, is a cyclist. And someone who rides in a couple of charity rides each year, for which they train a little, is a cyclist. And, of course, the winner of the most recent RAAM is a cyclist. You will be somewhere on that spectrum. Moving up the spectrum will involve, among other things, keeping a log book.

(Miles' note: I can hear one of you saying right now, "Miles, I can out ride you any day, and I don't keep a log." Yes you can, no you don't.)

Another way to move up the spectrum is by riding your bike. Eddy Merckx was once asked the secret to successful racing. He said, "There are three things. Ride your bike. Ride your bike. Ride your bike." He's absolutely right. While I'm not suggesting that you turn into a mileage junkie, and there are ways to be successful without simply piling on the miles, there finally is no substitute for just riding your bike.

There are two main records you will want to keep and look at: distance and consistency. You will want to keep track of the distance you ride. Keep track of each ride's distance, each week's distance, each year's distance. And by keeping track of those numbers, you will also be able to see how consistently you ride. Are you a weekend only rider? Try to get some evening or morning miles in. Try commuting a little. Are you a seasonal rider? Try to get some miles in after Thanksgiving and before April. Shoot for increasing your distance and consistency throughout your life.

Cycling has many benefits. Ride your bike - log your ride. Rinse and repeat.

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