The 300,000 mile club
Yes, it has to be said there are ‘anoraks’ even in the world of cycling. People who keep a faithful tally of their daily, weekly, and annual mileages, and will deftly let slip into a conversation what their current life total is. Of course, only those who have something to boast about would let such self-revealing statistics loose in a general chat about cycling exploits. And through such idle chat you might even learn of the existence of the 300,000 mile club. Yes, there are people out there who have logged their mileages over a lifetime and, either fortuitously or by design, have qualified to enter the ‘Hall of Fame’ of the said club. Sadly, qualification does not bring with it an automatic OBE, or an honorary doctorate, nor even a cash prize to finance a modest celebratory meal. It does mark, however, that extraordinary human quality of striving to conquer a summit because it is there. The same spirit that drove Mallory and Hillary to climb Everest, and Shackleton to cross Antarctica.
In the last eight years, I have to own up to being one such ‘anorak’: I have kept a log of my annual mileage. I know I am a very ‘sad’ person, but at least I hold back from being totally governed by numbers (what I call ‘cycling by numbers’). Some people feel compelled to record the most minute and inconsequential statistics of their riding, in the hope they will continue to improve performance year by year. This is characteristic behaviour in the world of competitive cycling, but my cycling is entirely devoted to fitness and pleasure, so calculating mileages is merely a retrospective of my riding history.
I can accurately claim that I have cycled 45,000 miles in the last eight years, with an annual mileage (now in retirement) currently rising to 9000 miles (which, in fact, is more than I drive in the car!). If I were to extrapolate and make an informed guess at my lifetime mileage since the age of 28 (when I began club riding), it would come to about 120,000 miles, and that would be discounting the thousands of miles I would have cycled all the way through my childhood and early adulthood. But all this pales into insignificance when you read of the exploits of some members of the 300,000 mile club. For some, the minimum qualifying mileage is only a starting point. Take a look at the exploits of Chris Davies, for instance, who has covered over 900,000 miles in his lifetime:
290 miles per week, or 41 miles per day, every day for 60 years! Where did he find time for earning a living?
And it’s not just men who get up to such antics. Sue Swetman has logged up over 600,000 miles, and her husband, Pete, is also a fellow member of the 300,000 mile club. How do they do it? Well part of the answer lies in the faithful logging of mileage from a very young age, recording all the casual miles (going on errands, visiting friends….) along with mileage of ‘serious intent’. Most of us might be astounded at the mileage we have covered in a lifetime, but we have never recorded it.
See you up the road!