Sunday, July 17, 2011

Record-Keeping As an Obsession

I've mentioned, before, that I no longer keep records of my total mileage on the bike, per year.   I did keep a tally of consecutive days of bicycle commuting, and the cumulative mileage (by month, year, and from the start of the unbroken commuting streak), when I was seeing how many days in a row I could commute.  So, I do still have the tendency to obsess, a bit, with data.

When I first started riding, as an adult, I had one of those mechanical odometers that attach to the front axle.  A pin attached to a spoke on the front wheel drives a wheel on the odometer, and a certain number of revolutions then advances the counter in 1/10th of a mile increments.  I used that to keep track of my daily mileage, which I wrote down in a ride-log.  Total cumulative miles always showed on the odometer readout, and I liked seeing that number coincide with my logbook number..

I eventually graduated to a CatEye cyclometer, and I became somewhat obsessed with recording not only mileage, but average speed and time spent on the bike.  Before too long, I was keeping a wall chart, which broke the mileage down, even further into "road", "off-road" and "trainer/roller" miles.  If I rode my bike to a trail, I would note the mileage to the trailhead, so that I could differentiate the mileage type, even on the same ride.

Once, when visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Oregon, I forgot to start the cyclometer (it had no auto-on capability) as I took off on the climb up a cinder cone.  I got to the top, and realized that I had no record of the mileage.  I got the mileage on the way back down, doubled it for the total ride, and recorded it into my logbook.

That evening, I propped my bike up, next to the couch, and spun the front wheel for an hour, to get the cyclometer mileage to synch up with my log.  It was then that I started to have an inkling that I might be worried too much about the mileage, and not enough about the ride.

It took years, but I eventually weaned myself from the obsessive data-tracking.  I even have a few bikes without cyclometers, now, just so I won't worry about speed, or time, or distance at all.  Riding on those bikes is very relaxing (though I doubt that I get much of a workout, as I tend to lollygag when I am unhooked from the speedometer).

The problem is, I think I might be obsessive about not recording my data, now...


1 comment:

  1. I maintain Buddy partly by mileage and am tracking its amortization that way. Most my other bikes have no computer.


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