Aug 272012
Who’s Keeping Track? Not Me

Cyclometer close-up showing 22.02 milesI went on an awesome bike ride with Sweet Hubs Saturday of 13.7 miles, to Hub and Bespoke for a pair of Outlier Tailored pants, through Ballard, and back home. We went on another more challenging (for me) ride Sunday: 22 miles from downtown Seattle to West Seattle, around and then over a punishing high ridge that reminded me I haven’t been putting in much mileage and that does make a difference.

I know that right now I’m not riding as much as I have in the past but I can’t tell you how much my mileage has dropped in the last couple of months. Why? Because about halfway through the first year in which I ever set any kind of goal for my riding, I quit keeping track.

The funny thing is, I’ve been tracking all kinds of stuff for years. As I got a tad older I realized it might be a good idea to quit relying on memory and make notes so I started a health notebook and I’ve kept one for at least the past five years.

I make notes on things I want to ask my nurse practitioner about on my next visit. I write it down when I get sick and when I get over whatever it is. I occasionally track all my food intake for a few days–a definite reminder to eat more veggies. I make notes about those things that change as you get older, like a spot you might want to monitor in case you think it’s just a freckle and it turns out to be more, or your changing cycles. I write down things I learn about our family health history. I note days on which I go to yoga or engage in other types of exercise.

And I tracked my bike riding. Boy, did I ever. Obsessively. The fact that I can tell you Saturday’s ride was 13.7 miles (not 13-1/2, not “nearly 14”) is a sign. If my cyclometer magnet got bumped out of alignment on the spoke (meaning it wouldn’t read) and for some reason I didn’t realize that until partway into the ride, I’d go home and recreate my route on Google Maps so I could get the correct mileage.

So why on earth would I quit writing down my riding?

I attribute it to several factors.

  1. No sooner had I set a mileage goal than I realized I really don’t care how many miles I ride. I just want to ride.
  2. Life got extremely crazy in late June once I accepted a new job and started getting ready to move.
  3. The health notebook is in a box somewhere. Yes, I could find it. But….
  4. I read a time management article on the importance of the “to ignore” list.

The to-ignore concept made me look at a few things I’ve been spending time on that really don’t add measurably to my quality of life. I promptly stopped checking in on Foursquare. I spent less time on Facebook (at least for a while). I ignored it when someone sent a passive-aggressive email and instead just responded to the factual matter at hand rather than getting wound around the axle with all the emotional response that actually comes from me, not the sender.

And I realized that any day I ride my bike is a good day, whether it’s my current one-mile round trip to and from work (I’m living a little too close to the office but it’s temporary) or a slightly punishing 22-mile set of hills with my sweetheart. I could enjoy the ride and ignore the details. Whether or not I wrote anything down, the ride counted.

I know for a fact that I’ve ridden my bike every day since August 1, my first day on the job. The streak will necessarily break this coming week when I’m on a cross-country train trip with my daughter, but that’s okay. I’ll be focused on what really matters–taking her to college on the East Coast and getting that last big dose of Mama Time.

It isn’t always about the miles.

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Your Turn

  • Do you keep a log?
  • What would happen to your riding if you did/didn’t?
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Reader Comments

  1. Yes and no. I used to write every ride down in a notebook or later into a spreadsheet when I was in college. Then I stopped because it was too much work. I quit because I had stacks of notebooks I never looked at and old files I couldn’t even open anymore.

    Then my wife bought a Nike+ attachment for her iPod. She’d go for a run and when she got back it would load the information about the ride up to a website.

    And I thought that’s what I want for my bike. So I bought a Garmin GPS unit. I like it because IT keeps track of the rides and I don’t have to. All I have to do is start it at the beginning of the ride. Then every once in a while plug it in and let it transfer the files. People who don’t have one always laugh and imagine I’m using it to navigate or I spend the whole ride staring at it. The truth is I might look at it once a ride. I like it because it lets me keep track without keeping track if that makes any sense.

  2. I hear you. Obsessive doesn’t begin to describe my meticulous tracking of Every. Single. Fraction. of a mile ridden. Getting the cruiser helped me let go of the deathgrip I had on and I don’t worry about the miles accumulated on that bike or the city bike. I do still have cyclometers on the hybrid and road bike and track the longer rides, though.

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