September is over and that means so is the BTA Bike Commute Challenge that my organization was taking part in. This past Friday was my last commuter day and I went out with a bang by taking my longest ever round-trip home. I wanted to beat last year's total of 202 miles for the month. I was aiming to hit 204 and be done by 8pm, but I got lost... twice, and instead finished with 211 miles at 9pm.
My total for Friday was 31.5 miles, the most I've cycled in one day since I started biking again. Considering that a friend did a marathon of 107 miles over 7.5 hours this past weekend, I know far greater challenges are on offer. Nevertheless, I'm really pleased with my effort as part of a commuting challenge where only days you actually go in to the office count. By comparison my best bike-commuting day last year was 16 miles. Not only did I almost double that this year, I also beat it two other times and matched it on a fourth occasion.
Going back to my 211 miles this year versus 202 miles last year, on the surface it seems I barely beat last year's total, right? Some of you might be wondering what happened to my pledge to beat last year's total by 50 miles? Well, I did, but to see how you have to look at the averages.
Last year I had 21 commute days, averaging 9.6 miles per commute day, where a commute day is a day you actually go in to the office (per BTA rules). This year I had only 15 commute days because September had 2 fewer workdays than last year, plus I took two vacation days for Worldcon and I had two work from home days thanks to a bike injury (ironically). In other words the 211 miles was achieved at an average of just over 14 miles per commute day, about 4.5 miles/day more than last year.
If I had merely matched last year's rate I would have ended this month with 144 miles, so at a minimum I exceeded last year's total by 67 miles, well over the ambitious target of 50 I set for myself. Or one could do the reverse and multiply this year's average by last year's days and say that if I'd maintained this average over 21 days then my total would have been 295 miles, or 93 miles more than last year. Either way, I crushed my goal and also beat last year's total in terms of raw numbers.
Given even greater context, I could have gotten away with only 105 miles of commuting, so I more than doubled what I needed to do in those fifteen work days. And yes, for every day that I went in to the office I did bike, so per BTA rules my participation was 100%.
All in all it's a commuter challenge so the question is, did I challenge myself? Well, aside from the totals and averages and three times setting a new personal record for miles covered in a day, considering I rode for most of that time with an injured arm and for the last week and a half with an injured neck, and that I rode on my beat-up, heavy old bike... I'd say yes. That and I really felt like I was challenging myself and doing well to boot.
So what's my goal for next year? Well, I might consider beating this years total only if I have found a way to afford a better bike by then! And then only if I can find a fun way to do the extra miles, like long rides with friends. I'll still take part, for the team, but doubt I'll do more than that next year. Put another way, while I got a lot out of these two challenging Septembers, I'm not sure what else I can get out of this commuter challenge and I think looking for other challenges might be more productive for me next year.