Such fun devising a Big Year

My Jogging Big Year was a scary decision but the structure of the target readily suggested itself. In mid-2015 I was jogging 2, maybe 3 times a week, some 6 or 7 kms. So, I said, let’s aim for greater kilometers more often. Practising over the final months of the year firmed up the goal 0f 10 kms 4 times a week, which translated to an annual goal of 1,700 kms. 10 kms meant about an hour of foot pounding, which seemed fine to me. I had a pretty firm idea of what my “stretch goal” should be, just because I was already a steady jogger.

It’s not so easy for the 2017 Cycling Big Year. After quizzing cycling friends, I reasoned that I could probably start the year at 15 kms/hour, and by the end of year hit 25 kms/hour, so let’s assume on average 20 kms/hour. Romantically wishing to eventually become “one with the bike,” and feeling grandiose, I made an arbitrary decision to cycle each and every day. No break days. How long did I wish to cycle? I knew cycling wouldn’t be as heavy work (at least on my routes and with my aspirations) as jogging, so a daily regime of one hour seemed sensible. And wouldn’t it be fun to do an hour extra on two days of each week? I could do the math: 45 weeks (allowing for birding, hiking, etc.) x 9 hours/week x 20 kms/hour = 8,100, so let’s call the year’s “stretch target” 8,000 kms. This had one pleasing aspect to it: if I asked others what I might aspire to, they all talked lower, sensible targets around 5,000 kilometers, and, hey, sensible was not how I felt.

Of course my problem is that I’m a cycling klutz as I approach January 1. I’ll improve a little but right now, needing to be cautious crossing roads, etc., at best I get to 15 kms/hour and whenever “proper” cyclists stream past me, I despair of dramatically increasing speed. Also, even though my legs should contain some strength from running, already they’re sore! Will I even be able to put in nine hours a week? Is 8,000 kilometers just plain ridiculous? I keep reminding myself this is a far less important Big Year than my writing one, so why butcher myself idiotically?

Geeks enjoy numerical fine-tuning like this. I enjoy it. I tell myself to keep practising and analysing and hypothesizing. I have until New Year’s Eve to settle what I do the next day and from then on.

(Image modified from photo by Alejandro Lopez on Unsplash)

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