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.

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