Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 in numbers

We managed to log one last dirt ride for the year before we head to Fairbanks this week — eight hours of soupy fog and equally soupy mud. The California drought and an attitude that "rain is running weather" has almost completely desiccated my patience for mixing bikes with mud. Hours of splooshing through a cold goo shower is just so much better when you don't involve a fast-moving, difficult-to-clean mechanical object. But I wanted to squeeze in a long ride this weekend, as we're now just three weeks out to the 200-kilometer snow bike race. Beat and I rode with our friend Jan, who had a great attitude about the grimy day. "How many times do you get to see Skyline like this?" he said, referring to fog so thick we could barely see a few meters in front of us. As I remember from March 2011, if we have a more "normal" winter ... actually, a lot.

From a "pre-holiday-party run" along Russian Ridge on Saturday.
Plugging the ride into Strava started me thinking about my "year in Strava." This is the first year I've used GPS fairly consistently to track rides and runs, which means I have a nearly complete record of my training data (the GPS did stay home from time to time.) I can be a numbers geek with the best of them. Although I don't place high personal value in my statistics (because statistics do not tell very good stories), and although I can't make much use of them because I have little interest in a structured training plan, I still have fun tracking these details. I'm glad I managed to record my activities consistently through 2014.

I thought it would be fun to crunch the numbers for 2014. I realize the year is not quite over, but like most people, my free time will be limited over the holidays, so winter solstice it is. Hikes are included in the running totals, because in my world there isn't that much of a difference between running and hiking — either way, I am trying to move in the most efficient way possible in regard to terrain, distance, and elevation change. Usually my effort levels are fairly consistent regardless of pace. Cycling is both road and mountain biking. Strava doesn't distinguish between the two.


Distance: 4,557 miles (including RASA)
Time: 321 hours, 13 minutes (not including RASA)
Elevation gain: 478,196 feet
Rides: 92


Distance: 1,570 miles
Time: 394 hours, 46 minutes
Elevation gain: 282,608 feet
Runs: 140

Cumulative distance: 6,127 miles

Cumulative elevation gain: 761,227 feet

This section of the Skyline Trail opened to bikes in November, but remnants of past discrimination linger.
It was a good year. Not even including the moving time within 21.5 days of the Race Across South Africa, I spent 716 hours on the move. That's the equivalent of 29 days — nearly a month. Some will undoubtedly ask, "Why do you spend/waste so much time training?" My answer is simple: I am consistently the most happy when I am moving through the world. Even better when I am moving through the world under my own power. In 2014 I had the privilege to spend more than one twelfth of the year in this happy place — in addition to a variety of other great experiences. Yes, 2014 was pretty fantastic. 

The month-to-month breakdown tells a better story, because there are some wild variations to the numbers. In January and February I was simultaneously training for the Iditarod Trail Invitational and the Freedom Challenge — so loaded cart pulls and long mountain bike rides. March was mostly snow biking in Alaska followed by the White Mountains 100 at the end of the month. April and May were highly training-focused with many hours on the bike, and June was the Race Across South Africa. July was a recovery month, although with Tor des Geants on the horizon I embarked on some long hikes. In August I increased the running mileage. Early September was the Tor des Geants, which ended in an LCL tear in my left knee, followed by four "zero" weeks. Once my knee started working again in October, I ramped up the bike mileage quickly, and started walking and then running again in November. I was lucky to get away with increasing my mileage as quickly as I did after my injury. I believe having a solid base of high-mileage conditioning helped. I also really did take all that time off, and my knee had a fair chance to heal. 

Beat looking good during a day of playing in the mud. 
The breakdown: 

Bike: 511.3 miles, 50,334 feet gain
Run: 195.4 miles, 35,010 feet gain

Bike: 78.7 miles, 9,718 feet gain
Run: 456.6 miles, 33,233 feet gain (Iditarod Trail Invitational) 

Bike:  327.8 miles, 16,388 feet gain (White Mountains 100)
Run: 28.8 miles, 1,349 feet gain

Bike: 490.9 miles, 61,936 feet gain
Run: 110.5 miles, 19,544 feet gain

Bike: 647.1 miles, 72,110 feet gain
Run: 137.8 miles, 27,270 feet gain

Bike: 1,450 miles, 121,391 feet gain (Race Across South Africa)
Run: 19.5 miles, 5,866 feet gain

Bike: 33.2 miles, 4,380 feet gain
Run 108.5 miles, 23,625 feet gain

Bike: 183.9 miles, 23,822 feet gain
Run: 169.7 miles, 48,323 feet gain

Bike: Big fat zero
Run: 133 miles, 48,615 feet gain (almost entirely Tor des Geants)

Bike: 494.6 miles, 59,632 feet gain
Run: 12.4 miles, 1,824 feet gain

Bike: 263.7 miles, 39,423 feet gain
Run: 93.4 miles, 17,927 feet gain

December so far
Bike: 155.2 miles, 21,893 feet gain
Run: 119 miles, 22,172 feet gain

Some bloggers ask questions at the end of their posts. This is one I'm curious about. Do you track your outdoor/training activities? How do you feel about your "year in numbers?" 


  1. Congrats on a great year of living a life of moving forward.
    I rode about 3000 miles this year out of a goal of 4000. There were reasons for this but it doesn't matter what they are. A friend of mine rides about 21,000 miles every year with the following philosophy. She doesn't train. For what?, she'll ask, and I am in complete agreement.
    I ride when I want, and when I can't I don't get all upset about it. Like I need something else to feel bad about? Racing, per se, ended for me in '92. Paying a lot of money, to travel to, and enter an event far from home to wait around to compete in often shitty conditions is not my idea of a good time nor a constructive way to challenge myself to test my limits. I can do that right outside my door. And if I want to travel to some location, I'm going to make sure I accomplish the most important goal of travel-to experience the people of an area and observe how they live, and not in a bonked out, shattered, depleted state. If tired, I rest, if feeling good, I keep going. I find the people I encounter along the way are far more interesting than fellow "competitors", striving to fill some inner emotional shoot out to test their limits.
    Yes I use Strava, and it's a lot of fun, mostly as a training log/diary, but I say that term only because I don't have a better one. I give a lot of kudo's because I like encouraging people. When I get kudo's for say a KOM, it's nothing more than a coincidence. I set a goal every year and I usually hit it. But cycling/running is only part of a well rounded life that I want to live. Family life, work, reading, music, love and just plain goofing-off, are all worthy goals to pursue, as well.
    Good luck in Alaska, don't forget to have fun!

  2. I don't track. Does not appeal to me at all. I just want to get out and enjoy. I don't want to carry a GPS. But this may come from having run for decades, since I was 14, it has evolved in so many ways. I guess it might be interesting to see how many miles I hike, since it's a lot, but I'm not sure what I would do with that information. I tend to go out to escape technology.
    Alaska sounds fun, hope there's some snow for you.

  3. Rather than ask why you'd soend so much time racing/training, I thought what a great year.

    Like you, I'm not much on structured training. I'm much bigger in adventuring by foot or bike with friends, a perspective that makes "training" fun. I still love being able to look at the numbers. Strava is interesting in the way it allows me to see how I compare to others (and often depressing, if I let it be) but lost valuable to me in the way it makes it easy for me to compare me to myself.

    1. Thanks! Over the past year I have become a huge fan of Strava. There are so many useful aspects of this data that I didn't mention:

      1. I enjoy tracing my adventures on a map. It's fun to visualize the surrounding geography and nearby route connections. I love doing this in places I visit that are far away from familiar surroundings, such as Italy and South Africa. This feature also is helpful when writing about experiences later.

      2. Lifting route ideas from others. I keep a folder of GPX files I downloaded from Strava as a wish list of future adventures.

      3. Meeting new people. I've become virtual friends with a few Strava regulars, and there is occasional chat about planning rides. (I have yet to follow through, mostly because I'm shy.)

      4. As Z-man mentioned, it's a legit way to exchange encouragement. I've also received a few good tips from fellow Strava geeks (such as try this trail next time, or tips about lesser-known access points.)

      5. As you mentioned, I value the numbers to compare myself to my past self. It's interesting to see how I've improved or lost ground on regular routes.

      6. The whole QOM thing is mostly ridiculous, and it's difficult to understand why anyone would care if they're 6/114 on some segment that's 0.3 miles long. This is by far my least favorite feature of Strava, but it tends to draw the most attention. This is what has made the obnoxious practice of riding down a trail screaming "Strava!!!" an actual thing. I would think there are plenty of non-competitive types who are repulsed by the idea of Strava because of this, who would otherwise actually enjoy the Web site as much as I do. I hope to see more of these types come into the fold, and stop cluttering up the activity feed with BS segments in favor of more complete adventure rides.

      Yay for Strava. :)

  4. Hi Jill, thanks for the fantastic ride! This one got recorded for sure. I stopped tracking numbers couple of years ago. I know very well if I ride enough or not and if I am happy about it or not without Strava etc. I use the course maps and profiles to recall rides at interesting places and plan new routes.

  5. Hi Jill, enjoy your blog, my running year so far, a week to go!!!;
    Dist 1545 miles
    Time 357 hours
    Ascent/descent 270482'
    Runs 211
    Don't use strava, I have anquet maps & memory maps on my comp, trace routes then view in 3d, good for route planning, keep track of stats using a spreadsheet, works without getting too obsessive. Only a few bike rides this year, seems to disagree with my old knees

  6. Wow, great year in experience and numbers! I ditched my watch after my one year of college running, to purposefully focus more on fun. I did get into mtn bike racing and tri's by my late 20s, but still never any structured training. So I've never kept track. I'm more tempted with the advance of wireless/auto uploads... I don't even want to spend time figuring out how to keep track, ha. But I do enjoy blogs of those who do!

  7. I don't track any rides or runs for statistic value, I only take note of my heart rate during exercise and just do it for the love of it !

    I think on average I will kill 450 miles of leisurely riding per month.

    At this stage in my life it is more important to spent time running or cycling with the wife and children not really covering the distance that I would like to achieve, but spending time with them is priceless !!!!


Feedback is always appreciated!