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Cycling: How Far is Far Enough?

September 2014
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I’m at the end of a fantastic week on the bike. Monday was a mix of relaxed mountain biking and medium effort cycling – 32 miles total (Holiday, no work). Tuesday was very fast – 7 mile warmup and 30 miles at 22 mph. Wednesday was very easy and only ten miles. Thursday was a decent effort for 16 miles. Friday was an easy 32, yesterday a medium effort 30 and today I’m staring out the barrel at 60.

How much is enough though?

Total for the week will be around 217 miles (349 km). All summer long I’ve managed some fairly high mileage – 180 to 220 miles except for the week I was on vacation, I think I only fit in 90 miles that week.

How much is enough?

I can remember not too long ago when 100 miles in a week was hard to hit. Then 150 was tough unless I was doing a century (metric or standard) on the weekend. I can remember thinking 200 was near impossible. Now it’s common, 217 this week and the farthest I’ve ridden at one time will be 60 miles…

So, how far is far enough?

I can live with whatever I can fit in, but I like anything between 150 and 200. I get to ride my bike every day, I stay fit, trim and strong, I have enough time to meet my familial and work responsibilities and most important: I’m happy.

Being a recovering drunk is a curse at first and a blessing later – I have no escape from my emotions and the committee that resides in my melon (heretofore referred to as the melon committee). Except when I ride a bike. In the beginning I had to learn how to tame the melon committee and that was not easy without self-medication (we also call that getting drunk, lit, hammered, sloshed or tanked). After, once I learned how to live right, it was a blessing because I get to feel life unencumbered.

A little more than an hour a day and two or three each on Saturday and Sunday are more than enough to recharge the battery and enjoy life like a kid does, and that’s what life is really all about.

How many times have you heard, thought or said, “if I only knew then what I know now”? I used to say it a lot. Cycling, for me, is living like I did then with what I know now. That makes for an excellent balance and a lot of fun. It makes for a good me.

So I would suggest the answer varies from person to person but for me it’s 150-200 miles a week. Other’s may require more or less but as long as there is balance, it’s all good.

Now, if you’re talking about weight loss, how much is enough? 217 miles works out to about 3-1/2 pounds’ worth of calories. In my case, that’s simply a lot of eating but if I wanted to lose weight, I think that’d be a good start, no? All for an hour a day and a few more on the weekends.

In other words, this week was far enough… But not too far.

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8 Comments

  1. So happy you have cycling to keep you happy!

  2. dagowop says:

    The weight loss crowd, if anything like me, probably has a difficult time finding that perfect mileage because at least I have a problem telling my body “no” when it asks me to replace all the calories I burn on my rides on any given week.

    I know I’ve over eaten this week, and now with a 4-day stretch of work and no riding, my caloric intake will only rise further above my calories burned.

    Summary? If you want to lose weight, you’ve got to stop eating back the calories based on how much weight loss you aim for each week.

    • bgddyjim says:

      This goes without saying my friend, and I make mention of this often. Worse, as my body gets used to the effort and workout, it becomes more efficient so I have to work harder or eat less – it’s a delicate balance, even at 200 miles a week. On the other hand, riding that much, if I chose to loose weight, a minor modification to the diet and I’d be ultralight in no time.

  3. Sandra says:

    Fun post to read. 🙂

  4. great post, are there any such ks as junk ks I wonder when you just love to ride.. How about recovery, I’m curious about that. In a post earlier this year (not that far back) you spoke about slowing down to speed up – I thought about the book Iron War when I read that. Have you read that book? I won’t spoil it if you haven’t but base building is a feature.. I’m curious as to your mix of riding, it seems like a lot of hard riding, but you enjoy it. For a relative newbie I’m looking for a balance of base and high intensity to try and crawl up the power curve…

    • bgddyjim says:

      I did go through a hopeful “slow down to speed up” phase. It wasn’t complete bunk but it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be either.

      That said, I ride hard 2 times a week. Tuesday nights and Saturday or Sunday morning. Monday is typically a night off except at the end of the season when I’m trying to get every mile I can in, so that’s a slow day. Friday’s I ride with my wife, there’s another slow day. So that leaves the other weekend day, Wednesday and Thursday for medium effort days (or a rain day off as is often the case). The hard efforts are 20+ mph average over 30-100 miles. The medium effort rides are typically between 18 and 19 mph and the easy days are between 15 and 16.

      To start, at least for me, I rode hard more than half of the time. 5-6 days a week, 4 days hard and 1 or 2 easy. Not exactly how you’re supposed to but I did just fine with it.

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