If you’re new here, welcome. If not, you know that I just completed my longest mileage year ever on bicycle and foot. (For that story, see A Devil of a Year: 6,666.66 Miles…) As if all that distance alone weren’t enough reason for a break, I’ve got a life off the bike, you know? So this post talks about some of those other activities and goals. As I wrote in It’s Tapering Time: Biking Less Means Health Gains, “For 2021, I am considering making my #BikeGoals based on time. I walk, do yoga, and write, each for 30 minutes a day (well, writing often takes longer), so why not bike that much (or little)?” So, what does that mean for this dude? Let’s find out.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a tortoise, not a hare on a bicycle. Sure, I can and do go faster as the terrain warrants and my energy allows. Downhill I’m a freakin’ speed demon because of my added, er, ballast. I’m ok with that. In 2020, I spent 678 hours on the bicycle. That’s the same as biking the whole month of February, all day and all night. So by cutting my miles and time in half or more (longer rides require more frequent and longer breaks), I’ll have time for rest and other things.
Anyway, with my slow pokey average of 10 miles per hour, at 10 a day, that’s 3,650 miles a year. Subtract 316 miles — equating to one whole month off the bike in 2021 — that would put me at 3,334 miles for this year. With 2020’s 6,666 miles, that’ll make 10,000 for two years (again, like 2016-17), or 5,000 average per year. So let’s get to my reasons for reducing my rambling. I’m sure you’ve got other stuff to do, too!
10. I’m tired. Yeah, that goes without saying, but I’m going to say it again. anyway. Je suis tres fatigue. There are things to do about it, namely to sleep more. I’ve been doing that, though it’s hard. One downside to being an evening cyclist is being too revved up, eating and digesting late. Ideally I should be taking rest days, which is my own advice that I’m not following. So now I’m at least reducing my T.ime I.n T.he S.addle, and also trying to get out earlier in the day when it’s warmer in the mostly milder Texas winter.
9. 10 miles is very doable. Since I want to keep my streak of biking daily over 14 months going, for now I’m going to still ride a bit. At a relaxed distance and pace, 10 miles pretty much is resting to a dude like me. An hour down from the usual two and half or as many as five hours is much more manageable.
7. Distance is arbitrary, time is finite. Mileage goals, while nice to brag about, are purely arbitary numbers. There are tons of badass people in Strava who do a lot more miles than I do. Usually I don’t follow them digitally because I haven’t met them and it’s kinda discouraging. But there’s really nothing inherently better about a higher number of miles except to show people you a) have plenty of (or possibly too much) time own your hands or b) you are a faster, fitter bicyclist. If you are, good for you! But lot of non-cyclists can’t even relate to the distance. All they know is that it’s far. There’s no point to showing off for either group; the first one doesn’t care, and the second one can’t relate and also doesn’t care.
6. It’s short enough to do errands and still feel like a bike ride. Anything less than 10 miles feels a little bit like cheating. But 10, as a double digit, somehow seems legitimate. It’s a nice round number, too. Fortunately, I can get to most of the places I need to go by bike in under that.
7. My legs are already starting to feel fresher. After four of these days (one involved two five-milers but they were consecutive because I forgot to start my Garmin watch), the old gams, the pedal pushers, the getaway sticks are feeling better. I can tell they that they could — and want to — go faster and farther. But there’s no need for speed, so I’m just letting them relax and recover. Did I mention I biked 6,666.66 miles last year?
8. Fresher legs, fresher dude. After a tenner, I hardly feel like I’ve biked at all. So I’m still getting in some cardio, although granted it’s not the same intensity as before, or a spin class. By not pushing my body as hard, my mind is feeling less pressure to perform. This helps me have a good attitude and to not burn out.
9. Absence makes the heart grow stronger. By reducing my time biking, I’m creating space for choice. And whereas in the last five years I was grinding for a big numerical goal, biking less means I enjoy it more. I don’t exactly miss trying to cram in 20 miles or more late at night in the cold, dark, wet, and wind just to make a certain number. Eventually I probably will want to do some longer rides. I just will when I’m ready and feeling good and want to do them, not because I feel like I have to do them. In the meantime, I will probably get a little faster. Or not. I am not a racer, so what’s the hurry? Slow biking is beautiful.
10. The 10th of January marks 15 months of daily cycling. After that, I may decide to end my streak. I probably won’t — streaks are very hard to start and keep going. Stopping altogether when I don’t have to seems like a missed opportunity. I do like to think maybe I’m inspiring other people, whether they are mid-aged fathletes like me or not. But it’s an option to stop. And tomorrow is not guaranteed; anything could happen. COVID-19, some other physical ailment, injury, alien abduction…
In the end, does any of this really matter? Who’s to say? If it does or doesn’t, either way the world will keep spinning — a world which I now have biked around the equivalent the equator. For now, do you know what else is going to keep spinning? That’s right, c’est moi: A Dude Abikes. Until next time, be safe out there, at home, or wherever you are.
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