How much biking is actually a lot of biking?

In the course of daily life in October, by my best approximating, I biked 911 miles (or 1,466 kilometers). I still don’t have a bike odometer to tell me so, but because there was a region-wide contest happening — teams of 8 competing against each other to see who could take the most trips by bicycle, encourage the highest number of other people to ride, and bike the most miles — I actually kept track of my riding on a daily basis. I used google maps retroactively to approximate my distances for the day; it’s not 100% accurate but I think over a month it evens out.

So, October held 911 miles of riding.


(and some of it looked like this!:)


I suppose that seems like kind of a lot of miles. But with the exception of one 80-mile adventure (pictured above) on the Banks-Vernonia trail with my friend who’d never been on the whole thing before, none of my riding was particularly ridiculous or gratuitous: it was the basic amount of getting me to the places I want to go. Of course there are always a few take-the-long-way-home-because-I-love-being-outside sorts of things, and a few joyride-with-a-friend-because-it’s-so-nice-out kinds of things, but those still seem like normal life to me, the basic amount of being in the world the way I want to be.

That is, I wasn’t trying to ride a lot of miles, I was just keeping track of the miles I did want to ride.


(things you might see biking all October: cackling geese using Red Sunset Park as a migration stopover:)


Because my work commute is pretty dang long, I suppose I’m a bit of an outlier — even if I did nothing but ride to work and back 3 days a week for all of October, I would have ridden almost 400 miles — but I’m always struck by how quickly miles add up even when you’re just taking little trips. If we don’t count commuting to Gresham, most of my rides were under 6 miles one way. It just turns out that when there are many things you want to do in this world and many places you want to be, and when you do it all by bicycle, you ride an awful lot without it ever feeling like a lot. Heck, just meeting James downtown to get dinner and see a play ends up being more than 10 miles total, even though I never bike for more than 20 minutes at a time.

So while the sum total of a month’s worth of biking may seems like an awful lot of miles, when you stop to look at any given commute (save my commute to work), it’s mostly itty-bitty increments that add up over time.

How much of the rest of life is like that? How much seems daunting but, when taken in little increments, slowly chips away at the scary big picture?


(Silver Falls State Park: the only thing I haven’t biked to in recent history;)


I realized last Saturday, camped at Silver Falls State Park after carpooling down with a friend, that it was the first day in a really, really long time that I hadn’t ridden a single mile on my bike. I like that. I like that a bikeless day is such a rarity. I like that 911 miles adds up so quickly. I like that I spent so much of October fully engaged with the world around me, fully engaged with my body, using my muscles, feeling the fresh air and the sun and the rain.

I like life on a bicycle:)


  1. I biked 421 miles in October… :)
    You’re a rockstar!

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