2015 Mileage Review

2015 Mileage Review

For the third year in a row, I am happy to present to you my annual mileage review. 2015 saw me traveling across Europe and down the Pacific Coast from Bellingham, Washington to Eugene, Oregon. I probably traveled to the most locations in 2015 compared to any year in my life. Let’s see how 2015 stacks up against previous years.

A Little Short on Mileage

When you’re comparing from a quantitative perspective, 2015 fell short of beating out the total mileage in 2014 by a few hundred miles (524 to be exact). I also did not surpass the previous record set in 2011 (195). 2015 came in third in all-time mileage ridden in one year at 3922 miles. You’re probably wondering how this could be since I traveled across Europe, traversing through 9 different countries. I also pedaled down 2 states and went on a bunch of weekend trips. There should be no way that 2015 would fall short of 2014 or 2011, right?

I am sorry to burst your bubble, but there were many factors why my mileage didn’t take off and set a personal record for me.

  • My trip across Europe saw a lot of train rides (12 to be exact). That actually cut our mileage down significantly, and we ended up recording 1903 miles pedaled. Yes, this was still higher than my 2014 Pacific Coast tour from Vancouver, British Columbia to San Francisco, California. I was hoping our mileage would surpass the 3000 marker, but thanks to bad weather and timing constraints, take the train rides was our best option. The average daily mileage for that trip was a measly 33 miles when I expected to double that.
  • I have not been consistently riding my bike day-in and day-out. I try to get out to #LARiverCampCoffee (Instagram) every week, but there has been a serious lapse on my part when I am in town.
  • The trip from Washington to Oregon should have given me a bump in mileage as well, but due to the nature of the job, I was only riding half of that since the tour leaders traded off between riding and driving the van.
  • The multiple MeetUp tours helped a little bit, but traveling 80-100 miles for one weekend a month didn’t do much to pad my mileage.
  • In 2014, I participated in the #30daysofbiking challenge and I went on weekly trips with Topanga Creek Outpost. In 2015, I did not do either things. Instead, I focused on planning my own trips and managing logistics.

Setting up Camp

Quality is Better than Quantity

As with many things in life, having quality time is so much better than the quantity. This was one of the lessons I learned touring through Europe this year. Yes, we didn’t get to travel further and bike every mile through the countries, but at our pace, we were able to see and enjoy more of the countries we visited. Our enjoyment of the trip was significantly better because we decided to slow things down and stayed at places where we never thought we would stay. We even experienced train rides through different countries. Who can say they’ve ridden the train in every country they’ve visited for that period of time? I suppose backpackers could say that, but most of those folks are confined to the local towns in which the train stations are located. We toured through places that few tourists without a car or bike will ever see – the small artisan towns with charming boulangerie or bakeries serving decadent pastries or the many cafes that align the streets of medium-sized towns. We interacted with so many different people and experienced a more local feeling to an area than any passerby would ever know.
This holds true even for my many trips around the States. Pedaling past places I’ve never been through, like Catalina Island, helped reshape my perspective of the place. Prior to doing this in August, when I thought of Catalina Island, I only thought of Avalon. This small little town with cute little shops, a tiny beach and casino building. Anything beyond that, I only saw on a tour tram/bus that took us into the airport. Even though the mileage total for that trip was low, the epic riding and the quality of that trip was at an all-time high. I can honestly say that was probably my most favorite place to travel in 2015.

Thumbs up

View of Avalon Waterfront

Interesting Insights

The numbers always tell an interesting story, so here are a few things I noted while analyzing the mileage totals.

  • The month I accrued the most mileage was in May, in which 23% of the year’s total miles were accounted for in this month alone. This was right in the middle of my Trans Europe bike tour with about 880 miles ridden.
  • February recorded the fewest miles at only 48 miles ridden, or 1%. I am not sure why, but it seems that February was a slow month even though it was the month where the first MeetUp ride started. This is significantly lower than the 2014 low of 156 miles in December 2014.
  • The most mileage recorded in one day was on July 25, 2015 during our MeetUp trip from San Clemente to Lake Kumeyaay. The mileage total for that day was 95 miles.  I may have not stopped my Garmin for the 2 days of riding, so this is not an accurate accomplishment. I look to the next date that had high mileage and found that there was one for 88 miles on September 11, 2015. This was part of my ride down the coast for my second Adventure Cycling tour. It was a long day from Falls Creek Campgrounds to Bay Center. It was a tough ride with several hills and terrible traffic conditions in Aberdeen.
  • In 2014, I announced that I was going to sell the Surly Cross Check, but that has not happened yet. In fact, the Surly logged about 154 miles this year, which was close to the 155 miles it logged in 2014. I’ve had a tough time letting go of this bike. I’m going to try again this year and set my expectations lower than before. I barely ride this bike, so it’s been sitting in the garage collecting dust. I did lend it to a friend to ride and took it out on a Halloween Pumpkin Patch ride.
  • I’ve saved 0.94 metric tons of carbon emissions by riding my bike this past year. That’s 0.1 fewer metric tons of carbon emissions compared to 2014. The more mileage on the bike, the more carbon emissions that I will save.
  • I am now over the 20K mile marker for miles ridden since I started biking again in 2009.
  • The Salsa Vaya has accumulated another 3800 miles this year, which puts it at about 9000 miles ridden since I bought it in 2013. I have 1000 more miles before the 10K marker, just in time for another bike review in the near future!

Hoh River

Journey to 5000

I was really hoping that 2015 would be the year that I set my 5000 mile record for the year. In 2014’s mileage review, I even said I was going to shoot for it. I thought it would be breeze because I had my Europe trip lined up last January. I totally underestimated the mileage. My first priority for the year in terms of mileage is to ride more miles than 2014. The second priority is to meet or surpass the 5000 mile marker. I think I have a good chance once again this year as I am slated to ride across the country via the Trans American route. This should give me roughly 2000 miles in 3 months of riding. I will have to figure out how I am going to ride 3000 miles for the remaining 9 months – that’s 333 miles per month, or about 89 miles a week. I think that can be achieved. It’ll be challenging as this year is predicted to be one of the wettest for Southern California because of the El Nino phenomenon. Wish me luck!

I know I am nowhere near breaking the world record for annual mileage! Sheesh! 206 miles a day for a year??? Insane!

Do you have a mileage goal for 2016? Please share it in the comments below. Perhaps we can keep each other accountable. I will also be recording my data through Strava starting this year, so I can get both mileage and elevation data. I will share that information once I sign-up for Strava so that we can link up. Here’s to a mileage packed year of bike touring!

About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He's also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association's Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.