Celebrating Meaningless Milestones

6:16 AM

It happened 44 miles into a 50-mile ride, and me without my camera.

My road bike odometer rolled to mile 10,000.  The Spouse suggested that we take a picture with my phone, but since my phone is decidedly un-smart I have no way of getting photos off it once they are taken.  So other than a little “woo-hoo” and a short break in the pace, we pushed on to the end of the ride.

As we finished our ride along the Mississippi River and headed up Grand Hill, I started to think about how arbitrary this milestone really is.  The road bike is just one of four bikes I ride throughout the year (my mountain, cyclocross, and commuter bike round out the stable), so in reality I’ve ridden many more than 10,000 miles since I started cycling just over three years ago.  And my little Cat Eye computer, though generally reliable, is certainly no accurate measure of the miles on the Fuji – there was that whole winter where I was too lazy to find a new battery and just estimated my miles. 

And what is so significant about a number with four zeros lined up?  I thought it was pretty cool when it rolled to 10,001 just a few minutes later – why not memorialize that? 

Woo-Hoo, 10,006!
Still, 10,000 is a lot for me.  I know there are cyclists who complete this many miles in a year, but I am not one of those long distance riders.  And there has always been something enticing about counting up miles – when I was a high school cross country runner my teammates and I would compete for special mileage t-shirts the coach gave out every August (the 400+ mile club was the most coveted). I faithfully added up my miles (down to the tenth) after every ride and kept a running total every week when I transitioned to cycling.  Even though I have now switched to measuring my workouts by time, I still track my weekly and yearly totals. 

There is one exception to my mileage obsession – my mountain bike.  I’ve never wanted to strap a bike computer on her, and not just because it would add more complications to her beautiful lines.  Knowing myself, and knowing my unreasonable addiction to the odometer, I wanted to keep the mountain bike simple and pure.  I ride until I am tired, and measure my workouts in the sum total of the experience, not the digital details. 

And yet, when I got home I ran upstairs and retrieved my little point-and-shoot.  Got to capture mile 10,006!

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