I’ve never been much for tracking the miles I bike. I’ll sometimes do it on bike tours, though, mostly because I have a Rite-In-The-Rain pocket size spiral notepad that lives in the map compartment of my North St. handlebar bag. (I bought this notepad at REI in Missoula, MT during the Big Tour in 2011, and on occasion I’ll flip back through it for fun.) Outside of that, no. I don’t use Strava and I don’t want to RideWithGPS every ride that I do.
But for some reason this year I decided to start tracking my mileage. I’m doing it mostly in analog format, using a handy Rhodia A7 sized notebook (graph paper, of course) where I’ll write down my day’s mileage. I get that mileage from my bike computers on either my Bantam or Raleigh Superbe. (I’ll either use RideWithGPS tracking or an estimate for mileage on the Brompton, for now.) I’ll note something about the bike ride, like “errands loop”, the bike I used, and mileage down to a tenth. That’s it.
But why? Maybe because I know that I want to ride more. But not having a metric of what I already ride, I don’t have a definition of what my current riding looks like. And it’s fun to look back and see what my riding has been like so far this year.
But I also don’t want to get super-anal about this. I don’t want to become one of those people who publicly flagellate themselves when they figure out their riding was down by 3% this year, or feel like they have to do a crazy 200 mile ride before the end of the month in order to “balance things out”. I also don’t want to make it all about miles. I ride for fun and utility, and I can have really fun bike rides that are relatively short.
At the same time, I know that my general fitness level has decreased over the past few years, especially when I cut out my regular five days a week bike commute in 2018. When I lived in Woodlawn and worked at the hostel, my daily commute was about twelve miles, 1 so I was guaranteed 60 base miles a week. Now looking at my month of January I got in 119.9 miles, just about twice that weekly mileage. I could use another 120 miles in a month, so perhaps a goal of at least 200-250 miles a month is something to shoot for, for now. It’ll get easier with nicer weather and longer days, so I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t achieve that soon.
And I rode 14 days in January, roughly half the month. A few years ago I would be riding almost every day. I’d like to ride more frequently, but “work-at-home”, pandemic, and a lack of motivation has hindered that. It’s hard for me to just get out and ride if I don’t have a destination or plan. I’m trying to create a few basic low mile loops when I just want to ride so I don’t have to think about a destination. But I also don’t want to pressure myself into riding every day via something like the 30 Days of Biking Challenge. Some days I just want to walk instead, and that’s okay! And I don’t want to do the token “I rode around my block” ride because I didn’t ride that day, just to “ride every day.”
So I’ll keep on logging in those miles for as long as I can. If it negatively impacts my mental well-being, I’ll stop. But for now, it’s fun.
1 This is a little over what my typical “commute loop” to my post-office runs. But I only go to the post office once to thrice a week, so it will never add up as much as my hostel commute.