In my last post, Muscles, Might & Math Mean More Miles, I touched on how numbers help motivate me to achieve my bicycling goals. As it turns out, the last seven days I’ve ridden an average of 21.25 miles per day, from 20.5-22.2 miles. And I did that because of the math, which then went from my brain to my legs. Sophie the sea foam-colored Fairdale Weekender Archer got the memo as well. All I did was subtract the mileage I’d completed for the year (over 5,000) from the total goal, and then divided that by the number of days remaining in 2020. The answer? The number 21. So that’s my new mantra. So far, for seven days, I’ve done just that, 21 miles, within .5-1.2 miles difference. Call me Mister Consistency.
Actually, don’t. A Dude Abikes is just fine. But what I’m getting at is that day in, day out, I’m keeping at this activity, habit, goal, or whatever you want to call it. There’s a certain comfort to this approach. I know I’ve done it, and what it takes. So I can parse out my effort accordingly. If I’m feeling energetic, I can go a little faster. If I’m a little piqued, as is often the case, I take ‘er easy. But no matter, I know I’m going to hit my target. Well, I don’t know, because there’s always the flat tire or other mechanical that could waylay me. I suppose a crash could happen, too, but I don’t think about that. Calamaties aside, I’m reasonably certain that I will accomplish this goal.
And that consistency is pretty cool in several ways. The legs do kind of know what’s being asked of them. They don’t freak out wondering if it’s going to be another 55-miler like my recent birthday ride. “Twenty-one miles again you say? Well, that’s not a problem, Dude. Done it before, we’ll do it again. Let’s go!” As if they could talk. Well, ex-pro tour rider Jens Vogt did write a book based on his catchphrase, Shut Up Legs! Point is, there is some nice predictability to doing the same mileage every night for a week in a row. If you were to apply this approach to any of your activities (maybe cleaning 21 minutes a day?), you might find the relative sameness reassuring as well.
Another fun fact about being so consistent is that I know how long it will take, so I can actually plan what I’m doing more. If I’m setting out on a ride of indeterminate length because I want to “see how I feel” or just go for a joy ride and “see where it takes me,” I could be out there pedaling longer than I want to or should be. Since I know my usual average speed is a pretty embarrassingly slow 10 miles per hour, a roughly two-hour ride is a nice round number to plan around. Time is an important commodity for us all, now more than ever with a killer virus. So slotting in a workout that you know how long it will take is a good idea that makes your day more manageable.
Although I don’t always do it, choosing familiar routes is comforting as well. It certainly helps that I’ve bicycled around my neck of the woods in Austin for quite a while now. I can just head out and generally estimate how far I need to go before turning back. I don’t have to measure 10.5 miles out and back. I get pretty good at making squares that add up to my goal. In fact, I play a little game I like to call Pscyhic Cycling (Trademark pending, ADAB). I guess how many miles I’m into the ride, then look at my Garmin watch. Usually I’m within a mile. Sometimes not, but then I’ll try to guesstimate my miles per hour, too. But if I’m going to miss the final tally a bit, I’ll just circle around the neighborhood to get to 21, and as a bit of a cool down, too.
Riding the same distance daily over different routes might seem like it would get boring. But it doesn’t, or at least it hasn’t yet for me. For many, perhaps all this mileage math is silly. But if at the end of the year I can say that I set, then met, a goal while using math to make sure I got ‘er done, well, I say go ahead and call me boring. But actually don’t call me boring. I’m A Dude Abikes. But you may call me consistent. That’s Mister Consistency to you! And if I can do it, many of you can, too. If you want to. What say you? Toodle-loo!
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance” from Goodreads
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