The Mileage Obsession

Barbara on a ride earlier this year.

On an almost summer-like Hill Country ride this morning, I caught up to my friend Barbara with several miles to go.

“I want to do 100 miles this weekend,” she said. “I’m at 91 right now. It’ll be close.”

I knew she had done a 60-mile organized ride the previous day. I thought our ride today would finish at something less than 40 miles.

With about a mile to go, I was in front of the group. I turned into the circle drive in a park where we start our rides, and stopped at my parked car. Our ride leader, Debra, was right behind me.

As I loaded the bike into the back, it occurred to me that something was odd.

“Where’s Barbara?” I asked Debra. Then I saw her.

She had ridden past the circle drive entrance and headed out to the highway. Then she turned around and headed back. Once again, I watched her ride past the circle drive.

“She’s trying to get her 100 miles,” said Debra.

Barbara came back to our circle drive, but rode past our cars and did another lap. Then, with thumbs up and a smile on her face, she pulled up to her car and dismounted.

“Got it,” she said.

She showed me her computer. It read 40.6 miles for the day’s ride. My computer showed 39.6. She squeezed one more mile out of the ride to reach her goal.

“I wanted to ride 5,200 miles this year,” she said, “but I’m out of town several weeks, so that’s not realistic. I’ve got 2,500. I want to see if I can get to 4,000 by March 1st. I think I can do it.”

I looked at Debra. “She’s mileage obsessed,” I said.

We all went out to lunch together after the ride. Barbara and Jerry, another member of the day’s group, compared ride data from their smart phones. She uses an app called My Tracks. Both were upset that they had forgotten to turn off the app at the end of the ride, and it was still registering data during their drive to the restaurant.

“Top speed, 51 mph,” Barbara said with a grimace. “That’s no help.”

I asked if they log their mileage apart from their phone apps.

“Well, it’s on the cyclocomputer,” she said. “That’s how I know what I rode this weekend, and how I’m doing at reaching my yearly goal.”

“I enter my ride data on Bike Journal,” I said.

“Oh, that’s a good idea,” she replied. “Then, if my cyclocomputer goes haywire, I still have the data.”

“And then I enter it into a separate Excel spreadsheet,” I added, “because Bike Journal doesn’t record everything I want.”

Everyone around the table looked at me.

Who’s mileage obsessed?” Barbara asked.