Living Out Loud

The 10,000th Mile


I'm not much of a spreadsheet guy. My job doesn't involve budgeting and I just keep an occasional set of records in Excel. But for two years in my 40s, I kept a Google sheet open every day, all day and spent countless hours studying and tweaking it.  That sheet was the record of my quest to ride my bicycle 10,000 miles in a calendar year, something I did and then repeated.

To reach 10,000 miles a cyclist has to average 192 miles a week for every week of the year. It was frustrating during January and the first part of February because I worked until 4:30 and my office was 30 miles from my home by car. Some cyclists ride in the dark with lights but I 'm not one of them. I took advantage of the weekends by riding as long as I could. On Saturdays my club has a group ride and I'd take advantage of easier (but fast) paceline riding to get in 40-60 miles. On Sunday's I'd do at least that much on my own, occasionally doing solo century rides of a 100 miles. Around Valentine's day sunset was late enough for me to ride after work, short 20 mile rides at first leading to rides averaging 30-35 miles later on with the occasional 50+ mile after work rides during the long days in May, June and July.

During the summer my office worked four 10-hour days so we could be off on Fridays. I'd ride my bike home along a 44-mile route Thursday evening and then back on Friday morning to retrieve my car. I signed up for and completed numerous charity rides of between 100 kilometers and 100 miles and continued to do solo 100-milers throughout the year, eventually completing that distance 33 times. Getting 300 miles a week to make up for the short weeks from the winter was possible when I was feeling good.

I ate six meals a day with lots of oatmeal, pasta, rice and other complex carbs. I bought sports hydration and nutrition products by the case at a discount warehouse. I tried to get eight hours of sleep every night but it was hard sometimes. I had to replace the tires on my bike about once a month and I went through inner tubes from flats at a fearsome pace. I got VIP treatment at my local bike shop and needed it, always afraid that pro-longed down time from mechanical issues would knock me off my pace. The second year of my quest, the entire frame of my bike was replaced under warranty and the mechanics at the shop rebuilt it one afternoon so I could keep trying for the 10,000th mile.

I had remarkably few medical issues. I got in a couple of scary wrecks but never got hit by a car, the scourge of high milage riders. I went one six-day period in May of the second year off the bike with pain in my upper back and neck from overuse but the break was all I needed at the time to heal.

The first year of my quest I rode my 10,000th mile on December 19, a Sunday, with a group of friends. A couple of my cycling heroes made that ride with me. One had taken me for my very first ride on a road bike and the other had completed the grueling Race Across America in her 60s. The next year I got to 10,000 somewhat earlier, achieving the number during a 100-mile ride with some of the same people as the year before.

I paid a price after those two manic years. My 18-year marriage dissolved, a victim of too many bike miles for me and too much time spent at work for her. Having achieved the 10K mile goal twice, I moved on to long-distance hiking and completed the Appalachian Trail at age 48. I stayed very active up until four years ago when I couldn't fight my arthritic knees any longer and had them both replaced. I have problems with arthritis in my back and neck these days that make long bike rides impossible. Although my days as an endurance athlete may be over, I am still part of the scene. The wonderful woman I'm now married to is an Ironman triathlete, Boston Marathon completer, and ultra-runner. That hike of the AT I mentioned was done with her. It was our honeymoon. I love going to trail races with her and serving as her crew, dispensing nutrition, band-aids and hugs with equal abandon.

If you'd like to see the day-by-day progress toward 10,000 miles, that spreadsheet I mentioned is still online here.