How many miles is enough?

Java House38 degrees on its way to 40. Steady rain all day. Yet, at 11:00 a.m. the guy on the bright yellow Waterford bike had already done 50 miles. After warming up a little, he was heading home, another 25 miles.

And there I was, aggressive cyclist (I like to think), sitting in Java House writing the introduction to my new book.

In the last ten days of this year, he hopes to cycle another 200 miles, which would bring him to his goal for 2012—12,500 miles. Even if he succeeds, he’ll still fall short of someone else in his club by 1,000 miles.

Totals like this make my 3,000 miles for the year (generously estimated) seem like nothing. Of course, this guy is a decade younger than I am. He’s only 70.

One reason for his high mileage, he told me, is that he rides randonneurs and ultra-marathon events: cross-state rides, long courses through the Alaskan wilderness and deserts in the Southwest, cycling day and night regardless of weather and with no time out for sleep.

The closest I’ve come to riding this way was BAM—Bicycle Across Missouri—St. Louis to Kansas City and back again on Labor Day weekend when I was only 55. Since I took time out to sleep a couple of hours each night, it took me all of 58 hours to cover the 540-mile course. The fast ones did it in fewer than 40.

“Some people say I’m compulsive about my cycling,” he volunteered. Maybe he’s right.

It’s clear that I’m not going to do randonneur rides and ultra-marathons. This conversation on a cold, rainy day, however, does prompt me to set some goals for 2013. Here’s a list of possibilities.

1)    Buy a new bike computer and track my mileage carefully.

2)    Commit myself to an average of 60-75 miles per week of ordinary cycling.

3)    Do my annual PAC Tour week (500 miles) and at least one additional multi-day trip of similar length.

4)    Do four century rides, beginning with Ride Around Clark County the first weekend of May.

5)    Continue my tradition of 50 miles near New Year’s Day, an annual round trip from Vancouver to Eugene, a one way Seattle-Vancouver ride, and a birthday ride of a mile per year of life.

Even with this pattern, I’ll still do less than half the distance of my Java House acquaintance. But I’ve got books to read, this blog to write, and the book I’m working on to finish.

Reason or excuse? You decide.


6 Responses to How many miles is enough?

  1. Paul Freeman says:

    Love to hear what your new book will be about.

  2. kevinmayne says:

    Treat yourself to a reason and an excuse. You are entitled to have a few of both up your sleeve. Compared to the average Joe your goals look pretty impressive!

  3. Joe Culpepper says:

    Keith, I like your goals for the year. My goals now that I’m retired are:
    1) cycle at least three times a week at 30 – 40 mi. per ride,
    2) do 2 – 3 rides of a week or more.
    3) discipline myself to cycle consistently even when the temperature falls below 40f, provided there is no snow or ice ont he roads!

    Hopefully my mileage will be more than the 2,000 or so per year I did before retirement. I’m currently planning a week long ride with Rick & Guy, and another 3 week ride with Guy. With my wonderful TransAmerica ride last year I made my greatest total miles in a year so far at 7,724 mi. This time of year is always fun to day-dream & plan for tours once the weather gets warmer! Happy cycling in 2013!

    • This is a fine set of goals. Two are especially important: 30 o 40 miles per ride and the discipline to ride consistently regardless of weather. I fall short on both of those. Keith

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