Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Quest for 12,000 miles - True Confessions of a Mileage Junkie!

Rolling past 12,000 mile on Boss Road, Ringoes, NJ

On October 18th I casually rolled through my 10,000 mile of the year.  At the time I was riding my Salsa Casserol on the top of the Sourland Ridge with my buddy Al.  It represented my highest single year total ever. It occurred to me that I still had more than two months left in the year to accumulate more mileage! How much could I add to what already was my most?  I took a minute to run the math through my head then announced to Al that I would strive to reach 12,000 miles by the year end.  He thought it was kind of crazy (maybe even silly) but wished me luck anyway.
Al joins me for a brief roadside celebration

I've noticed that from a cycling perspective we have become a less is more culture. There are scads of articles published promising you can be faster and fitter than ever before by doing a half-hour lunch ride.  Or, you will climb like Alberto Contador by riding your indoor trainer just two hours a week. We can monitor our heart rate, watts output, elevation gained, cadence, speed, distance, average, maximum, all while being guided by GPS. Train smart and ride less is the theme of our time.  Our busy lives demand that our leisure activities be as efficient and productive as possible.   But, all this efficiency leads me to ask one burning question. What if you simply love to ride?  What if spinning the pedals at a smooth comfortable pace for hours and hours brings you to a level of peace and serenity to rival transcendental meditation? 

For us it is the act of cycling that is enjoyed.  The more the better.  Speaking for myself it is indeed an addiction.  Fortunately, unlike most addictions there are positive paybacks for extreme exercise.  Weight control being one of the most visually obvious ones. I've been able to binge on an entire box of multi- grain crackers, washing it down with a quart of applesauce as a between meal snack and continue to maintain a healthy 158 pounds year round.  I've not considered whether eating is my motivation to ride, or riding is my motivation to eat.  No matter it all works out in the end.  The good news is my food cravings lean towards healthier vegetarian fare and not Whoppers and fries. I typically breeze thorough my annual medical physical with a pat on the back from my doctor.

The down side to riding a lot is lost time.  Time one can never get back.  Much of it solitary.  Not unlike the alcoholic, or workaholic, the cycling junkie has much to make up for in lost time with family.  Is it too steep a price to pay for such self indulgence?  Or, is there some payback in the form that time spent with family is better for one whose addictions are satisfied?  The fact that my loved ones are supportive leads me to believe the latter may be true.  The day I find that to be wrong is the day I'll make the necessary adjustments to balance the scales.  Even tipping them in favor of those who my indulgence has been unfair to.

In the meantime,  I mostly choose to pay heed to the voice inside me that calls out for more.  I write this as I am about to go on the ride that will take me past the 12,000 mile mark.  Today being December 11th.  Twenty days from the end of the year.  Will the voice then say go for 13,000?   I hope not.   
At the computer blogging and searching for the meaning of life

Early this morning I wrote the above.   The photos were added, my thanks to Al, after the 65 mile bike ride that would bring me past the desired goal.  It was a great December day to be on a bike.  Although on the cold side this morning, there was no wind and some sunshine.  My friend Al accompanied me as we worked our way to Lambertville,  a quaint town on the Delaware River.  We met my wife and a family friend at Giuseppe's Italian Restaurant on Bridge Street for a slice of great tasting pizza.  After which we undertook the 32 mile return trip through Stockton, Seargentsville and Ringoes.  I felt great pushing myself up the rolling hills of Hunterton County.  The melancholy feelings of this morning were a distant memory as I realized for the millionth time that bike riding is really a lot of fun.  The inner voice was quiet.  A fully satiated beast.  At least for the time being. 


  1. Congratulations. 12,000 cycling miles is a mighty impressive number. Enjoyed the post and as for your description of why ride, this choir member say AMEN. Looking forward to meeting up with you on the roads on one of these brevets.

  2. I really like this post.