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Daily Archives: August 16, 2015

Cycling and Fitness: How Many Miles Should I Be Riding Every Week? Well, That Depends on How Much Fun You Want to Have.

Riding a hundred miles a week was a big deal for me when I first started riding a bike for fitness.  I love riding a bike.  Now that I’m one of the super-cool kids, I like cycling even more and I can fit in a few more in a week.  I like the speed, camaraderie, and the fact that cycling has made my wife’s ass super-awesome.  Really, you could bounce a quarter off it.  Quarter-bounce aside, I’ve had an interesting road when it comes to mileage in the last four years…

My first year, first summer really, because I rode no miles that first winter, 60 to 75 miles a week was a fairly big deal.  I was on a mountain bike and just building my fitness.  I started out, no kidding, with 4 miles at about 15 mph as my best effort.  By the time my second year rolled around, I was pushing 35 miles on a decent Trek 3700 that I’d bought from a friend just a couple of weeks into riding.  That’s when I started hitting the 100 mile a week mark.  I’d ride 8-10 miles a day during the week and 30-40 on the weekends.  I lost some weight and started to get fast.  Then I bought a road bike because I was geared out on the mountain bike – meaning I would, on downhill sections and even flat ground once in a while, run out of gears and have to coast because I simply couldn’t pedal any faster.

The road bike is what really opened things up.  I went from 8-10 miles a day to 13 and eventually 16, during the week and 25-40 each day on the weekends.  I rode five or six days a week.  That’s 113 to 129 miles a week, and I really lost weight.  I got so light my wife got nervous and asked me to start eating a little more.  Chris Froome may be attractive to Sky, but my wife liked a little more meat on the bones than that.  I was almost exactly 2 lbs per inch in height back then…  Legitimate pro climber weight.  I really got into the club rides and started with the metric and standard centuries.  My mileage went through the roof.  And I kept my weight at the low end of where my wife liked me.  I was between 150 and 200 miles a week, in-season of course, all the way up until last year when I started riding on a regular basis with a group of between four and six from our Tuesday night club ride.  We are all suited to about the same average speed and we all like the long rides.

This year, I no longer take days off unless it’s raining (though I trade days off for very slow rides with my wife).  It’s been more than 55 days since a shower has derailed my chance to ride a bike and I even ended up taking a day off on vacation just because.  That isn’t to say it hasn’t rained, it has, just not when I normally ride (5-6 pm during the week).  I’ve clipped into my road or mountain bike every one of the last 36 days.  I am lean, mean, fast… and happy.  I exercise to stay thin – I will never allow myself to cross into “overweight” again – I’ve been there and it sucked.  I choose a bicycle because it feeds everything I love about staying fit:

  1.  Friends – My friends and I, including my wife on the top of that list, have enjoyed thousands of miles together.  We’ve camped together for organized rides, ridden just for the heck of it, my friends have even helped to bring my wife along as a cyclist…  The friendships are tough to describe because they’re definitely not traditional friendships, but they are good.
  2. The Gear – I love having cool gear.  Call it my answer to the midlife crisis, that works for me.  My bikes are my less expensive answer to sports cars – and the bikes run off of fat, not so much my wallet.
  3. The Food – I would be eating like a bird to stay the weight I’m at right now if I wasn’t as active as I am.  Last night I ate at Freakin’ Unbelievable Burgers without guilt or regret or having to worry if I’d put on an extra pound or two.  That sure beats a salad.

I’m riding between 230 and 250 miles a week this year.  That may seem like a lot, but it’s really not all that bad.  16 miles a day during the week, 38 with the club on Tuesdays, 40 on Saturday and 100 on Sunday (or vice-versa).  I’ve enjoyed every single mile and only ride alone one day a week anymore.  Today my friends and I will ride the Assenmacher 100 (mile).  We’ll ride with the racers for as long as they keep our 25 mph pace steady and then we’ll drop as a group and finish the ride together.  We’ll help one another to ride faster.  At the end, we’ll all sit down and have a hotdog or two, some salad and a piece of watermelon and we’ll spend an hour talking about the finer points of the ride.  Tomorrow I’ll ride with my wife after I get home from work.  We’ll talk about the day’s goings on and what our plans are for the coming week and beyond.  We’ll spend time together on two wheels.  Tuesday I’ll hammer out another club ride with the boys and laugh about the ride over dinner…  Wednesday and Thursday will be easy, spent with my wife.  Friday we’ll increase the intensity and extend the mileage a little.  Maybe.  Then we’ll put in some long miles on the weekend.

What will be missing is complaining about who sweated on the treadmill and didn’t wipe it up.  We won’t complain about who didn’t put their weights away or who was grunting their way through a set…  We won’t even bother talking about the latest food craze, because we all get to eat as we please – as long as it’s good food and makes for good fuel, within reason it doesn’t matter.  Burgers, nachos, steaks, mashed potatoes, green beans, some salad, chicken, pork, pasta…  It’s all good.

The proper amount of miles to put in on two wheels is as many as I can fit in, but not so many that the happy balance is upset.  I love my life as a cyclist, it’s what I was always looking for in staying fit.  It’s everything I was looking for.  Four years ago that was 60-100 miles a week.  Today it’s 230-250 a week.  I don’t know what it will be tomorrow, but right now I’m out the door.  It’s time for another hundred.