Getting through December in a four season climate like Chicago is a dicey experience for a guy who wants to ride his bike every day. You just don’t know what the weatherman will be serving up on any given day.
December usually has some of the most bizarre offerings, unfortunately. However, this year was one for the record books. No snowfall of an inch or more since March. This was the third most snow free season on record with 0.9 inch the lowest since 1939. The year 2012 was the warmest in Chicago’s 142 year observational record dating back to 1871.
I just finished adding up my bike riding for the year and it comes to, wait for it … 8,433 miles. I don’t know if you are impressed, but I am. This mellow December has been most helpful in my biking. Normally, we have snow and really difficult weather for riding at all, let alone virtually every day. This year, as you can see from the first paragraph – warmer and less snow. I bought a new car on February 25. I have driven it 4200 miles.
This cycling total is most gratifying to me because last year I rode 6,300 and thought I had begun to slow down due to my age. In 2010, the prior year, my total was 7,111 which was the most I had ever ridden. I was not surprised when I slid back the following year.
The 8,433 miles comes to a daily average – 366 days in 2012 – of 23.04 miles. A 23 mile ride lasts around two hours and burns about 1000 calories, thus expanding my gustatory horizons for the remainder of the day. It also works my heart and lungs and pumps up fresh oxygen to my brain creating new neurotransmitters.
Back in 2010 when I wrote up my miles, I explained that as I have gotten older, I have slowed down insofaras the distance of a single ride is concerned. I used to be able to crank out 35 miles without even stopping for a break. Now, as a septuagenarian, I stop every half hour for a rest. Also, the majority of my miles are ridden on a mountain bike with a carrier on the front handlebars and a 14 pound poodle in it. I stop to give her a break from the ride, too. These days, a big ride is in the low 30 mile range. In the summer and when the days are longer I often go out for two or three rides, so I can still get the total well over 25 miles for the day.
I started the year weighing in the low 150 pound range and finished the year at the same weight. My resting heart rate has been under 50 beats per minute for the past 10 years. I have less than 17 percent body fat. Clearly, biking yields cardiovascular benefits.
Obviously, I love to ride and have no problem getting my exercise which doubles as my pleasure. If you aren’t a cyclist, there are lots of other really good cardio exercises, like dancing, walking, swimming, running. I hope you can find one that works for you.
Happy New Year!
If you are curious about it, you can read my summary of 2010 cycling miles here.