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Life in the Bike Lane column

Can you prove you rode today?

By: Tom Frady
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It’s 7:10 a.m., I’m in my garage, helmet on, head and taillights blinking, Garmin on “pause.” I open my phone and hit “allow” to the notice stating my Garmin wants to talk to my phone.

“Live Track” is on.  An e-mail will be sent to my wife and a few others, allowing them to follow my ride in real time.  The same message is automatically sent to Strava and Facebook (well, maybe not but that’s another column), and if I was on other social media, a notice would go there, too. 

If it’s not recorded, it didn’t happen, right?

Like most cyclists who ride often, I keep track of how far I travel on each ride, culminating in a total for the end of the year. Before there were electronic gizmos to do it, I had an Excel Spreadsheet I filled in after each ride.

Full disclosure: somebody gave me the spreadsheet. I have no idea how to set one up.

After about 16 years, I still use the spreadsheet.  

Most of the electronic gizmos have features to assist the rider who is training for something but I don’t train. I just ride.

All kinds of apps allow the rider to not only compete against himself or herself but against others using the same app. I’m not good enough to be competitive.  I stay out of those shark-infested waters. 

Even if one isn’t training, the apps (and taking photos) can make riding more fun and get one to be more invested in the experience.  A certain amount of motivation is involved, too. Many riders (me) hate to finish a ride at 48.3 miles and will find a way to add 1.7 miles to make it 50.  I have many, many rides of 50.01, 50.02 and 50.03 miles. A bit compulsive maybe but also 1.7 miles more exercise.

A danger for some riders might be allowing the competition to replace the joy of being on a bike. If you are trying to move up a segment leader board, you might decide to make a dangerous move (run a stop sign or cut in front of a car) to shave a few seconds off your best time or catch Number 4 on the list. 

Photos also help us enjoy a ride longer and, in my case, some end up in this publication for (I hope) your enjoyment, too.

Finding a balance between being a slave to one’s technology and enjoying the ride isn’t hard. If you own one of the many cycling computers (they’re not expensive anymore), chances are more data than you need is being saved to your computer. It’s there if you need or want it.  Maybe just to find your total miles at the end of the year. 

Some riders (me) keep a more detailed journal, including bike service records and other notes. 

There are riders who eschew the use of even the most basic speedometer/odometer. While those riders are somewhat daft, they add what I will call “character” to the peloton. 

My ride is over now.  The Garmin sends the information to the computer in the house via Blue Tooth while I’m still in my driveway.  More information than I will ever need.  But the ride is now official. 

Time to fill out the spreadsheet.

Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.