Thursday, December 10, 2009

That might be the easy way, but it wouldn't be the cowboy way.

I went to the website for the League of Illinois Bicyclists today and deleted all my mileage posts. There were a couple of reasons for this. First of all, Mrs. Stoneman has repeatedly pointed out that the other riders may be lying. She is usually quick to believe that people lie, while I tend to accept the word of others at face value. (Except for government officials. I know they are lying to me.) But even if the other riders weren't lying, there is no way to tell if they are counting indoor miles. And as far as I'm concerned, indoor miles don't count.

The label "miles" cannot be correct because you don't travel forward (or backward). Therefore, you would have to use the label "mileage equivalent distances". But nobody wants to log two numbers, one labeled "mi" and one labeled "med". Or worse yet, nobody wants to place an asterisk after their numbers to indicate that the total is not accurate because it contains "mileage equivalent distances". All major sports records now seem to include some with asterisks beside them. That might be the easy way, but it wouldn't be the cowboy way.

There's another reason why I decided to delete my mileage log. I recently heard a clip from the George Clooney movie, "Up in the Air". In the clip, the character that Mr. Clooney plays collects frequent flyer miles and is aiming for one million miles. A female character, who is also a collector, engages him in a conversation about his frequent flyer miles annually and encourages him to "impress" her with his number for this year. As I listened, I thought about my annual cycling mileage and whether or not it was "impressive" to anyone. The previous post was about Tommy Godwin and his amazing mileage. I'll bet you've never heard of him. I hadn't until recently. Now that we've heard of him, and been properly impressed, we can quickly forget him and get on with holiday shopping.

Cycling logs and total mileage do count for something. If you don't measure something, you are not likely to manage it. Cycling growth, as any growth, requires 5 key elements: overload, recovery, specificity, individuality and progression. Without a logbook, you would not be able to meet those targets and your results will not be as satisfying. A logbook can also get you on the road when you just don't feel like it. Empty days on the log calendar look really bad, especially if there are many consecutive ones. Tracking, not collecting mileage is the goal.

Now you can see the reason for the blog title. It's not just about "cycling" as in riding my bicycle, it's also about "cycling" as in changes like the seasons or the tide. (Not like bipolar disorder, regardless what you are thinking.) As I grow through the second half of my life, I will have to pass through these cycles and phases in just the same way as the first half. Hopefully, I will have gained some maturity during the first 50 years so that the cycles of the next 50 will be less stressful and pass more quickly.

In the meantime, I still have a complete record of my mileages. If you want to be impressed, or perhaps just make fun of my small numbers, ask me some time what my annual mileage is so far. I'll be quick to tell you. That's the cowboy way.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's all relative.

2. 1. World endurance record for distance cycled in a single year

In 1911 the weekly magazine Cycling began a competition for the greatest distance cycled in a single year. The first holder was Marcel Planes of France, with 34,666 miles (55,790 km). The record has been established nine times. [2] A tenth claim, by the English rider Ken Webb, was later disallowed. [n 1]

YearRecord holderCountryDistance
1911Marcel PlanesFrance34,666 miles (55,790 km)
1932Arthur HumblesGreat Britain36,007 miles (57,948 km)
1933Ossie NicholsonAustralia43,966 miles (70,756 km)
1936Walter GreavesGreat Britain45,383 miles (73,037 km)
1937Bernard BennettEngland45,801 miles (73,710 km)
1937René MenziesFrance61,561 miles (99,073 km)
1937Ossie NicholsonAustralia62,657 miles (100,837 km)
1939Bernard BennettEngland65,127 miles (104,812 km)
1939Tommy GodwinEngland75,065 miles (120,805 km)

I've been tracking my mileage all year against other riders on the League of Illinois Bicyclists' website. As of today, here are the standings:

2009 Mileage Totals for All Users
RankUser nameHome town, stateMiles
1 Bill Alamo , TX12,936.0
2 Bentrider Wilmette, IL12,669.0
3 PBM Palatine, IL8,544.4
4 AttitudeOfGratitude Neptune, OH8,475.0
5 BigBlackDog Marion, IL8,430.0
6 safetydon Gardner, IL8,416.0
7 WECoyote Chillicothe, IL8,189.2
8 Pedaltoo Normal, IL7,538.9
9 MathiasBareback Milan, IL7,499.4
10 erp4599 Naperville, IL6,657.9

I'm the BigBlackDog. I've been as high as number 3 and as low as number 7 all year. But compared to Tommy Godwin, I've not been riding my bike at all. At the bottom of the list (I only copied the first ten riders) are riders who are only showing 10 - 30 miles for the year. I've often wondered why they bother to post at all. Then I saw the list for the world record holders. Now I question why I even bother at all. I suppose it's just because I like cycling.

There is no prize for high mileage (and as you can see, my mileage is not that high). There is no money involved (except for the money I spend to keep doing this). But there is satisfaction for me. And at the end of the day, that's all that keeps me moving forward. Satisfaction.

A high mileage year requires a fair amount of deal of deal-making. I have to fit all those miles (at about 15-16 miles per hour) into an already full schedule. Since my work schedule is not something that can be compromised, and I need 8 hours of sleep per night to stay healthy, then the time left, let's call it "home time" is the time which I take to ride. Hence the deal-making.

This year, I hope to hit 9000. I set a goal for myself of 8500, and I'll do that this week. But to hit 9000 would be nice. Next year, I want to ride more, but I may need to schedule off time during the holidays to keep from feeling pressured when "family time" encroaches on riding time during visits.

In any case, you can see by the first chart that no matter how many miles I ride, no one will care but me. And I do care.