Is it worth it to keep track?

Back when I was 1) teaching, and 2) keeping track of how far I rode with my bikey odometer/speedometer, my goal was always to ride at least 100 miles per week. A normal there-and-back daily commute was about 19 miles, so I figured that simply getting to where I needed to be every week was at least 100. I took that as a baseline goal for every week, even weeks where I didn’t work.

Then I left my teaching job and my need to ride that distance every week disappeared. But since I’d done it for so long, and since I like biking, and since being out in the world make me feel alive and well, I still tried to keep to 100 miles a week. Stunningly successfully, actually.

And then my odometer died. I didn’t replace it, but I know mileages around the city well enough that I could keep an estimate in my head of how many approximate miles the week had seen. But slowly, as the reality of having an odometer, that objective measure of distance, faded away, I stopped keeping track.

eastern oregon(signs like these–from my Eastern Oregon bike trip last year–are how I keep track of miles now. Though they don’t necessarily help me with cardinal directions;)

Now I have no idea how far I ride in any given week. When I tour, I no longer know how far I’ve gone each day, though highway mileage markers and maps give me a rough estimate. Basically, my relationship to objective distance has given way to a more subjective feeling of whether I’ve biked enough recently–or, said differently, whether I’ve sufficiently exercised myself.

I kind of like it that way. Though I’m impressed when people know how far they’ve biked over the course of a year, and though I liked being able to celebrate biking milestones like having gone my 10,000th mile, though I can kind of get into being able to compare past performance, I also really enjoy biking simply for the heck of it.

But I’m willing to be convinced either way. Any of you have any compelling thoughts about whether it’s worth it to keep track?


  1. I have cycle computers on my main bikes, and keep track of my daily mileage. But I simply reset it the next day, and don’t log it. The only times I log miles is on tour. I like to know how far I’ve ridden in a day, but that’s as far as it gets with me.

  2. I keep a GPS log of basically everything I do as a relic of the two weeks when I was biking as exercise (I started riding my bicycle daily when my blood pressure was spiking at 160/90, which turned out to be a horrible horrible mistake :-) and also for following cuesheets and keeping a log of the roads I’ve ridden on.

    Counting the miles is a bit of lagniappe — it’s nice to see the odometer roll over 20Mm in a year, even though the GPS is unreliable enough I have to remember the additional 100-800 miles that I ride where the GPS is dead/confused :-)

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