I want to be able to bike to work. But as a consultant, it’s rare that I’m ever actually in my home office (5 miles from home), and instead find myself at a client site much further away. But that won’t stop me this time. However, the distance may slow me down just a bit… It’s 16 miles each way!
So I’ve broken this seemingly impossible goal (to go from 0 miles a year to 32 miles a day via bicycle) down into stages. I’ll ride each day, and little by little increase the distance until I hit the numbers I’m aiming for. And this week I hit a great mile stone, 7 miles in 40 minutes! At this rate I’ll be at work in an hour and about 2 hrs… Still, it’s progress.
At 26, I’ve never walked, ran, or biked a distance of 7 miles in my life. In fact, since owning it I’ve riden 4 times. I’m slowly trying to gauge where max distance is over time, hopefully minimizing the chance for injury by easing into it as well as learning the bike itself. So far each ride has left me pretty tired, and my legs feeling like half set jello, but there has yet to be any intense soreness the day after. I am however aware of the strain I’m putting on my body, and have no intention of jumping up several miles each run. Which leads me to my first biking tip ever: creating a distance menu!
First I started with a chart with 2 columns, one labeled ‘Miles’ and the other ‘Route’. I then added rows from 1 to 16 with half mile increments starting after 9 miles (since I’m guessing I’ll have to slow my progression about that distance). Each route starts and ends at my home, and the chart was emailed to my phone for quick reference. When I’m walking out the door, I can decide how I feel that day and have a quick route planned out to match. So if the Sun is going down and I only want a brief ride in I can follow the route for 2 miles and be all set! In a few days I’ll try my 8 mile route when I think I’m ready.
Building Your Routes
Using routebuilder.org I was able to easily click my way across a google map and get a great estimate on the distance. It took me about an hour or two to map everything out (I have over 16 routes mapped after all), but now that I have them all mapped out it’s a peice of cake. Each route starts and ends at my house, and some share the same first few starting streets to speed up the route mapping process as well as give me some options should I change my mind early on. The site offers a saving feature, but if you don’t start over each time it will overwrite the last one, so I just gave up and built a simple route reference system.
I used the following format for jotting down my routes so that I could easily read it on my iPhone:
Since all my routes start at home, I skip the first road most times to save space. In this example I turn left onto Cobb Parkway, then right onto Peachtree St SE, and finally right on to Example Street. The first time you try a longer route, you may need to check half way through, but after a while you’ll easily remember the path you plan to follow with a quick glance. I usually try to leave out vowels or use nicknames for really popular streets with long names. Like PTREE for Peachtree.
Mix it up!
I decided to try and get each route to take me somewhere new. If I want to do 3 miles, I’m not planning on riding the 1 mile route 3 times, which would be far too boring. Instead, I want to ride the 3 mile route, and if I’m in the mood can ride the 1 mile route to top it off at the end.
After that it’s back to peddlin’. For now I’m focusing on slowly working my way up to that magic 16 number. But first on my list is mile 11, because that’s the distance to the closest train station from my house. Thus allowing me to bike there, and ride the last few miles on the train, which should be a great sub goal! Wish me luck!