Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Junk Miles To Monte Cristo

Last month, in his review of The Cyclist's Training Bible, Piaw Na questioned the book's emphasis on avoiding "junk miles" (the miles that don't move you toward your fitness goal). Piaw wrote:

"...where is the enjoyment? Where is the part where you ride up a mountain with friends, looking forward to another beautiful day? Where is the place where you hang out with your friends at dinner, reminiscing with your companions? The book has no place for them. You are encouraged to ride alone as much as possible, lest your competitive instincts take over and you work too hard. Or perhaps your companionable instincts take over and you work too little. No wonder the serious cyclists I meet never ask if I want to go for a ride!"

I guess I'm lucky to have friends like Mark Vande Kamp and Matt Newlin, guys who think getting up before the sun is a good idea, who load up on a fatty breakfast at 7:00 AM when the Twin Eagles Cafe opens up in Snohomish and then roll north into the mountains. Our plan is vague, as is our custom, and Mark's hand-drawn map is only a suggestion.

The ranger station at Verlot has more details -- a map and photos of the various washed-out roads. Matt has never been to the ghost town of Monte Cristo and that turns out to be the deciding factor.

So it's 183 junk miles spread over a couple of days. A little bit of hike-a-bike around some rock slides, the fording of a small river, a hike around the ruins and up into the glacial basin, dinners cooked back at camp and solving the problems of the world until darkness reminds us all it's time to sleep. Sunday's investment in slow climbing returns miles of coasting on Monday.

It's important to have goals and one of my goals is to make sure I always have time for junk miles.

Keep 'em rolling.



Anonymous said...

Wow. What a great description. Junk miles.

Most of my 2,000-plus miles ridden thus far in 2007 come under this heading. And I'm proud of it.
Thanks for the clarification.

Cheers --B

Michael said...


The mere concept is apalling. That someone would think that there would even be such a thing.

I'll tell you, I've had a busy summer, and done lots of events. And been competitive in the races that I've entered. And since June, when I haven't been doing an event, it's been nothing *but* "junk miles." It's bikr commuting and cycling to get groceries and riding over to friends' houses that has kept my fitness up all summer.

The only junk miles are the miles you cover in a heap of junk like a car, in my opinion. (Not to be inflammatory.)

Unknown said...

I love my junk miles! Intervals... not for me, I prefer what runners call "fartlek" (however it is spelled)which is just having fun. If that's junk, then so be it.

lynnef said...

that's what a co-worker called my commute :-)

I think every ride I've done has been junk miles.

Another concept I find strange: "training ride". Like you aren't supposed to enjoy it, or anything.

Jill Homer said...

So much value in a junk mile. I cherish every one. But I'd rather be happy than freakishly fit, anyway.

Anonymous said...

If you ride enough junk miles you get to eat junk food. If all you do is 'serious' miles all you get is serious food - energy gels, Accelerade, Powerbars, and plain bagels with peanut butter.

A bike is a terrible thing to waste. (coming soon to a T-shirt near you from littlecircles)

Ainsley Wiles said...

Junk Miles, that implies that those miles are not wanted or not of any value. Those are precious miles.

Jim G said...

Kent, I love those new embedded slideshows!

Marrock said...

Since I've been carless for about five years now and use my bike for frivolous things like getting groceries, doing laundry, and various other errends along with riding just because I actually enjoy it, I guess that makes all that time in the saddle junk miles too...

Unknown said...

This illuminates the mentality of some of those non-smiling, non-waving roadies on their unobtainium super-bikes. It's amazing that anyone could find a way to squeeze the joy out of cycling, but as the saying goes: "Mission Accomplished."

I treasure my junk miles: riding slowly with my kids, zipping along on an old Raleigh 10-speed, or commuting along the bike-path in all the varied weather here in the upper Midwest. The sensations of wheels rolling underneath me, leaning into turns, and propelling myself through the world, are worth a million doped up tour wins.


Unknown said...

I Like what mike said "I bike is a terrible thing to waste"

Cheers to hanging out with freinds in goast towns, suffering at 2-3 mph on hike a bikes above treeline and saying no to powertaps and squiggly lines!

Matt McFee said...

Well said, Kent.

Anonymous said...

Strange that the Lycra dressed serious training roadies are less judgemental-and more open minded than you guys.
They have ZERO problems with anybody else doing what their doing, (junk miles or not).
A lot of respect from me for guys that get up at 5.00 AM drag themself to the basement to do killing intervals.
Some of them are people I held in the highest regard. How about the 'serious" guy who handed out his whole repair kit to me in a MTB race. The same guy using his emergency bandages on me when I crashed.
Respect each other guys!

UltraRob said...

If you want to be race fast, intervals and hard efforts are necessary. I've done my share. I also need to throw in some junk miles to keep from burning out. Maybe that's why I like ultra stuff because a lot of the intensity is in the "junk" zone and for hour after hour and sometimes day after day.

nollij said...

I think "anonymous" needs to STFU if he's not man (or woman) enough to own up to his/her own comments. The point in the junk miles comments is that taking anything too seriously is silly. There's no disrespect (except for michael's comment about cagers…) but I can happily climb on board that train…

Anon, I'm curious how you know the guy who gave you his kit and bandaged you up wasn't a pure junk miler? Was he boasting of 5:00am wake up calls and killing intervals while he was bandaging you up?