2016-11-14 – I set up my bicycle mileage spreadsheet on August 29 and rode my first mile the next day—a trip to the Northwestern campus. Today I passed the 1,000 mile mark.
Of course, the day I started keeping records was entirely arbitrary. I’m guessing that I rode 200 to 250 miles in 2016 before I started keeping records. But 1,000 recorded miles was my milestone, and I’ve reached it. This is probably my second 1,000+ mile year. The last one was 1982. That year I worked downtown and commuted, maybe, three times a week, and I took fun rides on the weekends. Since I now work in my home, my commute is about 30 seconds (from the second floor to the basement). So all my rides this year were fun rides (except for five 25-mile ride to my musical writing class).
The year did not get off to a great start. I had a health scare toward the end of winter and was in the midst of a bunch of medical tests when I took my first ride of the year. It didn’t go well and I ended up added a stress test to the others. Fortunately, the medical tests turned out well.
I was determined to get back in the saddle, but thought it would be prudent to increase my rides little by little. The first rides were only a mile. Then two. Then five. Then 10. My longest ride of the year was a couple weeks ago: 52 miles (North Branch trail to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and beyond into Highland Park and back).
In July, as I was just getting my rides up to 10 miles, I was hit by another biker. He made an unsignaled and I ended up in the middle of the street with the miscreant on top of me. My bike was broken. The handlebars and fork needed to be replaced. My glasses were broken. Fortunately, I was wearing my helmet, so it was only my glasses. And my shoulder was injured, but not broken. It still hurts occasionally. It took a bit over a week to get the bike fixed and me back on the trail.
In August, I learned about an annual bike ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI). That’s when I decided I needed to get serious about my riding, so I would be able to join the event in July of next year. That’s when I started my spreadsheet.
I passed the 1,000 mile mark today just as the sun was going down.
And that’s a problem. Since August, I’ve been doing 20+ mile rides after work—about two hours. When we went off daylight savings time last week, the available daylight dropped to around an hour, and it’s getting less—and will be like that until February (around Groundhog Day). So I’ve started swimming to keep myself in shape over the winter.
Of course, there’s still a few weekends before it becomes too cold for me. And I’ll do some 10 mile rides after work, until I can’t do them in the light anymore.
The ride across Iowa follows a different route each year—from the Missouri River in the west to the Mississippi River in the east. But they say it averages at around 470 miles. I’ve now done that twice this year, and if you count unrecorded miles plus miles I will ride before bad weather sets in. I could get close to three times that amount.
It’s still going to be quite a challenge, but I’ve made a good start.
Registration for the ride opens tomorrow.