Just Not Riding Enough… Life Keeps Getting in the Way.

During my phone call / interview with Diane Lees on Thursday she asked how many miles a year Debbie and I ride our tandem and there were a couple interesting aspects to that question.

The first was, Diane assumed mileage would be something I keep close track of… and  she was surprised when I confessed I really don’t.  There was a time when I was really diligent about keeping track of mileage, but it seems the more complex and data-rich the computers have become, the less I actually check things like cum mileage, never mind ever downloading data to our laptops.  Yeah, I did that at one time too, but now… not so much.  Pretty sad considering we both have Garmin Edge computers on our bikes: a 705 for me and a 305 for Debbie.  I still get the value from having the ability to see all of the information I need during a ride, e.g., speed, ave. speed, distance, elevation, % grade, HR, etc., but I’m not even sure I know how to look at the cum values: it just doesn’t matter all that much.

That said, I still have a pretty good feel for mileage, at least on the tandems.  I can look at a calendar and figure out when we rode and how far and presto… that’s close enough.  As it is, I can still figure out if we got 1,000 miles out of a tire, or more like 600, 1,500 miles out of a chain or more like 1,200.

So, why is it that we’ve lost that ‘edge’ we once had when every ride was about hitting targets for average speed, improving out times and feeling that we cheated ourselves if we didn’t log over 5,000 miles on the tandems each year? Well, quite simply, life keeps getting in the way.

When we started tandem cycling 14 years ago we were basically empty nesters. Both of the boys were pretty much on their own.  The house didn’t seem to need that much attention, and when it did I could usually do my yard work and honey-do’s on weekday evenings.  I even had time to get in a 12 mile fast ride at lunch during my workday, with showers located just across the way in one of our aircraft hangers at work. We’d also often get evening rides in after work, which was really nice.

Nowadays, I’m out the door at 6am and don’t usually get home from work until 7pm on a good day, closer to 8:30pm or 9pm on not-so-good days: it’s just a never-ending stream of new meetings, new briefings, new reporting requirements, and on and on. So, once the weekend like this one comes along, there’s that pile of leaves that needs to be fed into the chipper and re-spread as mulch on the Azaleas.  After that, it’s time to cut the lawn and do the other weekly maintenance chores. Before I know it, it’s 2pm in the afternoon and we still haven’t gotten out for a ride… never mind that I’m now pretty worn-out and choking on pollen and dust.

Debbie’s been doing the inside the house stuff and then comes the mixed blessing: it’s our daughter-in-law calling to see if it’s OK to come by with the two youngest grandkids.  Has a grandmother ever turned down a visit from her grandkids?  Surely not, at least when they’re little and cute.

So, by the time they’ve finished exploring the backyard, played with some toys in the house and then gone for a walk to the neighborhood playground, it’s a little past lunch time and there are still groceries to be gotten.  Next thing you know, there’s a call from our son who’s painting Debbie’s rental to get it ready for the next renters: “I need more paint.” Doh!  Looks like we won’t be getting a ride in today.

So, we look towards the next week and Debbie is hopeful that with the townhouse rented she’ll get back her evenings which, with daylight savings time upon us means a later afternoon ride.  Maybe.  For me, I keep kidding myself into thinking I’ll find a way to get out of the office before 5pm so that perhaps I might also get in a ride, or at least get some yard work done so that our weekends will be free.

Yes, life does get in the way.  Or, perhaps we just don’t have our priorities straight.  There’s always that 4am -6am time in the morning… yeah, right.  Well, as a stop gap we’re going to try and make a point of joining some friends for a Saturday morning weekly ride and perhaps that will help get is back in the swing of things, at least on the weekends when we don’t have other plans.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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2 Responses to Just Not Riding Enough… Life Keeps Getting in the Way.

  1. Mark Owings says:

    I haven’t had a chance to listen to the entire broadcast yet to find out your answer to the question, but I read from your blog that you target riding 5000 miles a year tandem. Is that right? To which I say, wow!

    • TG says:

      Actually, the mileage discussion didn’t make it out of the editing room. But, to clarify…

      Back when we first started riding tandems we were riding nothing but the tandem; Debbie didn’t even own a single road bike at the time. So, just about all of our riding was done on the tandem and we were doing a lot of riding. We were easily logging 100 miles every weekend, with Sundays being a weekly get together for the “usual suspects”: our long-time, closest tandem friends here in the Atlanta area. We’d get even more mileage on weekends when there was some type of an event or events as we did a lot of local charity rides with metric centuries… a carry over from my pre-tandem cycling habit. For example, I can vividly recall 3 years when We’d drive 2 hrs to Birmingham for a Century on a Saturday morning, then go home and drive another hour to south of Atlanta for a different Century. We also would get out a couple week nights from April – October for 25 – 35 mile rides, from the house or at the weekly Buckhead Bellyache down in Atlanta. We also rode throughout the winter and used 40*F as a threshold for ride / no-ride, but we generally had very mild winters from 1998 – 2004 or 2005. So, getting 4,500 – 5,000 miles didn’t take all that much effort, just constant riding whenever the opportunity presented itself.

      Nowadays, 3,000 – 3,500 has been closer to the norm… noting that my beloved isn’t even all that thrilled about getting out when the temps are in the low 50*F range, never mind that we’ve had awful winters with unheard of amounts of snow and ice for Atlanta. The “usual suspects” haven’t had a string of weekly rides in several years as other priorities have gotten in the way (hence, the subject of this blog entry), and more demands for our time has limited our weekend rides to shorter, 35 mile jaunts from the house… and forget about mid-week tandem rides. Now, Debbie has since taken up riding her own single bike and when she gets into her groove she’ll slog-out 25 mile evening rides on Mon – Thurs. for weeks on end and build up base mileage that way. I’ll occasionally get out for a Friday ride, but my annual mileage is WAY down from the 7,500 miles a year on single + tandem I was doing in 1998, even fewer miles that Debbie currently gets on her afternoon rides. Oh, those were the days.

      So, back in context, the 5000 mile target is something we used to hold dear. Now, it’s more like Oh dear… did we really ride that much back then? I’d like to think I’ll turn a corner and get my mojo back and start finding ways to sneak in more mileage. But, as it is now, when I find that I have to burn-off vacation vs. losing it (like I did this afternoon), I think “bike ride!” all the way home on my big bike, only to find that once I’m home there are other things I need to do and before I know it, the school buses are running, then commuters… and it’s no fun to ride when those folks are on the road. Fun is a key component of riding for me these days, yet another change from the 90’s.

      Hope that helps to put all back in context. Although, I do get in over 5,000 miles a year on my motorcycle… 24 miles a day, back and forth to work! Hey, it’s better than sitting in a cage and making that commute and I get 40 mpg to boot!

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