Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dumb Numbers Make Me Happy

If I were more evolved I might be past the point of caring about numbers. There are a lot of numbers I don't care too much about. Dollars and cents seldom cross my cortex but over the years my wife and I have somehow managed to keep body and soul together. Age is another number I seldom think of and whenever I'm asked the age of myself or of some loved one, I'm caught up short and wind up calculating
But bike numbers have a hold on me, specifically distances. I track my rides, jotting numbers in little yellow notebooks. Over the years I've mostly lost interest in extremes of speed but distance riding is what still intrigues me and adding up the numbers is an annual tradition. I belong to a club called C-KAP which is composed of other kilometer accumulating cyclists. C-KAP is a Canadian organization but they are broad-minded enough to let those of us who reside in less metrically-inclined countries participate as well.

And so I track and report in kilometers but I am an American and I also do the conversions and watch the numbers roll by in miles as well. And last year when I totalled the numbers it was just a bit lower than I'd like. The total of 19,174 kilometers would seem to be a respectable enough number, but converted to miles it's 11,914 miles. Looking at that number it struck me that 12,000 miles would make me happier. A thousand miles per month for the year. That'd be a little nicer.

Or so I thought a year ago. But day to day I don't think that much about the numbers. I ride because I love to ride. I jot the numbers down because I always jot the numbers down. And December winds down and I'm adding up the numbers and it's just a little low. Coming into this final weekend I still needed 126 kilometers. No problem.

Except for my hacking cough. I spent Saturday whining. I'm really bad at being sick and my wife and kids will tell you that I do not suffer in silence. I hacked up glop, I whined, I moaned. I did creep out on the bike a bit Saturday afternoon for a very easy 11 kilometers of riding.

My pal Mark Vande Kamp and I had plotted a Sunday ride. I was feeling a bit better by Saturday night and paused my hacking and whining long enough to commit to a ride to the Black Diamond Bakery with Mark. Saturday night I dosed myself with the white man's cure for SARs -- chicken soup, Sprite and NiQuil.

And today we ride. My cough is pretty much gone but I still managed to shoot about 1/2 a gallon of snot out my nose over the course of the ride. The ride wasn't just about distance, of course. It's about chatting with a pal and riding fine roads on a fine day. And it's about great baked-goods and coffee and plans for adventures in the new year. Mark doesn't have quite enough time in his schedule to cover the full distance I need for the day but the run to the bakery and back gets the bulk of the kilometers taken care of. Back in Issaquah, Mark picks up his car and heads for home. I tack on a loop around Lake Sammamish and roll back home with 128.43 kilometers on the computer.

19,323 kilometers for the year equals 12,009 miles. A totally stupid number. A number that means pretty much nothing except that I spend a lot of time on my bike. A dumb number that makes me happy.

2007 will have more roads, more kilometers, more numbers jotted in little yellow notebooks. I've got a few adventures planned and a few more stories to tell.

I hope all of you out in the blogosphere have a 2007 that is filled with all the best kinds of adventures.

Keep 'em rolling,



Kris said...

Thanks for the reminder to reset my odometer!

Ruby said...

Hey Kent, those numbers are great... I reached my goal of 6k this year. After reading your numbers I have a lot of cycling to look forward to. Happy New Year!

Mike said...

Makes my 1700 miles for the year seem very little. But, I'm unlucky enough to only live 2.5 miles from work and to get 13 weeks holiday every year, plus having two young kids. Or lucky, depends on how you look at it :)

Thanks for the great writing and have a great 2007.

Cellarrat said...

Gotta love those little numbers that tick by on the cycle computer or looking at the maps after the fact and enjoying seeing how much you have covered....

Its also fun to ride past the edge of the map =)

Thanks for the Blog, Thanks for the stories may 07 treat you right on the bicycle and in other aspects of life!

jeff said...

I find my numbers obsession comes out more DURING a workout than AFTER. When I ride (or run for that matter) my brain becomes a math machine. I find myself constantly calculating distances, speeds, fractions, etc. just to keep my mind off the pain. This is especially true when I'm riding a circuit (or running on the track) and I tell myself: just 1/32 to go or 80% done. I'm really not that good at doing math in my head when I'm sitting at a desk but for some reason when I'm on the bike I'm a freakin' Rain Man.