I ride my bike. I ride many places people don’t bother to drive. I ride and I ride some more. I don’t love riding in the rain but I do because it’s the Northwest and sometimes the forecast says it won’t rain but it does anyway. I draw the line at ice and freezing temps because we get this stuff here called black ice and it’s every bit as nasty and treacherous as it sounds. Black ice is unseen because it blends in well with the pavement and then suddenly you’re on your arse spinning like a dervish and wishing you’d never ventured out into the wild. You get the gist. If my safety is compromised I won’t ride outside that day. I’ll Zwift in the safety of my basement. That’s called a “virtual ride” and I’m prone to doing those when the weather is having a hissy fit and I feel like something less complicated.
Which brings me to the topic of miles. Do you log your miles on Strava, MapMyRide or similar type of app?
Strava and I became acquainted awhile ago back in 2015 at about the time I bought myself a stunning carbon fiber Cannondale, named her Luna and decided she was just too dang pretty to be outside in the rain all the time. She’s so pretty with a lavender frame and white rims. I know. I need a therapist. Luna now is my Zwifty bike. I do enjoy the maps and the data Strava provides albeit for a price, but that’s fine. I like that it does the number crunching for me and overall I’m a satisfied customer. But..
Data doesn’t lie. I might FEEL like I had my best year ever in the saddle and I count any day that I can bike as a big win, but the data tells another story. Strava says that as of this writing I biked 4,586 miles. Which is a pretty low number for me. Also that there were 77 days in which I did not ride or I’ll say, I didn’t use Strava, which happens. But 77 days seems really high. In find that inconceivable. I wasn’t injured this year. I didn’t take any vacations or huge swaths of time off. I doubt that number, yet it’s there. It adds up even though it does not add up in my mind. Which means that somehow something is amiss. I bike everywhere and on average 77 miles per week. That means 4,004 miles a year. Given that, Strava nailed it and then some. Even though it feels like I logged much more. Strava doesn’t measure feelings. Like many things right now in an ever on-going pandemic activities feel different for inexplicable reasons.
Is this some weird algebra where solving for WHY means I need to compute my commutes differently. People who know me find these numbers a little off, so it’s not only me. I don’t care, but yet I do, you know? I know I ride and I ride for my life and I don’t have anything to prove (except maybe to Strava) but still it’s like getting an B+ instead of an A-. Or worse yet the teacher hands you the paper and says the dreaded, “You can do better.”
Here’s what I remember. I usually set my annual goal at 5K. I’ve reached it twice and even exceeded it. Sometime last Spring I recall that my miles were really off in Strava and I eliminated the “goal” and it said something to me like by doing this I was resetting the Strava-odometer, so maybe that had something to do with it. I’m trying to spin this in a positive light because sometimes effort isn’t measured in Strava in the same way it’s measured in life. How about I’m down 20 pounds since March? That’s kind of a big deal and even though I changed the number in Strava it’s not like someone emailed me and said, “Whoa there, that’s excellent and you must feel lighter on the pedals now too.” I have two bikes that went over the 10,000 miles mark and one of those bikes I’ve had since 2019, so that’s an accomplishment.
Measures of success are data driven but when we interpret the data there are factors that the data doesn’t document. Like, I just remembered that a bike I ride to and from the grocery shopping I don’t often record that data. That right there could be a few miles. See, I’m doing it again.
I know that many bloggers I follow cite their Strava stats often. We do that in part to show how easy it is to rack up the bike miles over being in a car or on mass transit. It’s a way of evangelizing about how much we love to bike and how easy it is to replace day-to-day activities of four wheels with two.
That means I’m going to take this as a lesson in data keeping and I’m going to keep on spinning and continue to ride, ride, ride into another year of riding. That’s the point. Don’t let the data get you down. Let it drive you to new goals and then I guess the other lesson it to check in on the data and see what it says about your riding. I started my day spinning the data negatively. How could I have failed so badly? It’s not what I feel I did, but I know I commuted and I rode and I did all that I normally do on a bike. This year Strava didn’t capture all that I accomplished, but what app really can?
Have you ever experienced a data disconnect? How did you handle it? Did it change anything about what you do?
Get out there and ride your bike!
Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate it!