It’s amazing the power a target has to motivate, but of course it has to be the right target! Examples are legion (particularly within the British public sector) of targets that have been met by the letter but not in spirit through some devious means – waiting times met by arranging hospital appointments while the patients were on holiday, for example**. I’m beginning to wonder whether my target is also a little oversimplified. I could, if I so chose, ride round the block every night and come pretty close to 1000 miles in a year, but that’s not really the point. It’d be the same roads, the same puny distance and I wouldn’t really gain anything.
So while my target has motivated me to get on my bike in some pretty unappealing conditions, how I meet my target matters every bit as much as meeting it. I’m not suggesting I go out and do a series of ten century rides, and in any case I couldn’t, but there are two important outcomes I need to strive for:
- 1000 miles of real-world riding experience
- Significantly increased fitness
How am I doing so far? Well, not too bad at all. I’ve covered 65.42 miles since New Year’s, which is just a touch over 100km. This puts me 21.70 miles ahead of schedule, which means if I didn’t move so much as a millimetre next week I’d still be a couple of miles in credit.
What’s more, I’m getting more experienced all the time, and I have less choice as to what experience I get as I have to keep going in all conditions. Last night there was frost, today there was ice. I wasn’t stupid about it but I chose to keep going because part of the reason I’m doing this is to accumulate the skills this sort of challenge will give me.
I’m getting better at my street smarts too, and while I can’t genuinely track stand last night I managed to get over half a dozen crossings without stopping once, just from anticipating, speeding up or slowing down, etc. I’m intrigued to see whether my improved balance from trying to move dead slow will help matters when the cricket season comes around…
The lengths of my rides are getting a little longer than just the mile and a half into town. Today I rode 8.1 miles in a single go – my 2nd longest ride so far – and I’m looking forward to some hot weather in the summer to dry out the muddy canal towpaths. Once that happens I can keep going all the way to Birmingham if I want to! I haven’t ventured on to the bridleways on the far end of town but they’re also something I’m looking forward to. I like the idea of popping in to the Red Lion at Derrington for a pint on a sunny day, which would be about 4 miles each way.
Finally of course, my target has prompted me to get another bike, and I’m probably not done yet buying bikes. One thing that’s slowed my progress is I spend a couple of days a week away from home, so I’ve looked into getting a folding bike to take with me if I’m away. Sometimes at work I have to park in the furthest car park, which as anyone who’s worked in a large factory will tell you often entails a ten minute walk just between car and door. Lots of time to be saved if I had a folding bike in the boot…
*the Mille Miglia was a very prestigious 1000 mile sportscar race in Italy, peaking in popularity when Stirling Moss won it in a Mercedes in the 1950s, with bearded journalist Dennis Jenkinson giving pace notes from the passenger seat. While he completed the 1000 mile race in a single day averaging just shy of 100mph, I’ll be lucky to average 10mph…
**yes, this actually happened.