Original Data

Original Data

A routine is a way of stilling time. It is its own spreadsheet, and in it lives progress.


Every Saturday I show up and I clip in, and I do my best. Results, as they do, vary. But the routine provides a way of developing a body of work, even without Strava, even without a computer, the steady pedal stroke, week-on-week, ride after ride, the miles piling up.

The Euro PRO says the sensations are good, and this is what that means.

It means that within my routine there is stability and structure, a way of measuring how I am doing physically, mentally, and possibly also spiritually. Time can really do your head in, the way it warps and wefts.

I love the measurable progress that lives in routine, where we ride on Saturdays, and other days too, and I get a sense for where I am, whether I can push on or have to back off.

When I miss those days, I lose the sense of where I am.

But it doesn’t matter, because things don’t really matter. Especially if they’re in the past. There is no Tipp-Ex, for lived experience.

Outside the routine, or when the routine gets broken, time slips away. It tumbles and capers. It talks behind your back. Insecurity creeps in. Shame. These things also don’t matter, because they are not real.

Maybe there is only a long game. In the routine or out, nothing much matters except as it accrues. When you are on the paceline to chase down Type 2 fun, there is only really the something later, right? A weird judo flip of time and pleasure.

Someone smart told me, “If we don’t go fast now, there is always the next time, or the time after.” That, I’d imagine, is what actionable data sound like.

Image: @ServiceCourse

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  1. David

    My best friend and former ex PRO and local Dutch legend Adri DeMaesschalck always tells me to remember to have fun when I step on the bike.

  2. TomInAlbany

    I don’t have a yard stick, per se. I’m not addicted to Strava byt, I like that I can use it to see if how I felt matched how I did. I’ve been using my Fitbit as my activity tracker so, I don’t get current speed or any of that data. I ride by feel and see where it measures up. It’s kind of fun/frustrating to do it that way after three decades of having a stem-mounted device to tell me everything. I like the data, which is why I don’t ride without some kind of device.

    My routine, though, is not to have one. I look at the day. I look at the calendar. I look out the window. I ride when I can. When I can’t, I dream. That said, my life is full of routines and I do find comfort in them.

  3. Parker

    Interesting to think of progress, change, as living when time is stilled. Is your idea that one’s sense of time as a measure of change with respect to before and after often disappears in an exercise routine that nonetheless maintains or improves one’s strength/stamina? And that an exercise routine is sometimes interrupted momentarily with feeling an increase/decrease of strength/stamina; but more typically one really feels such changes only later? Seems right to me. And thought-provoking.

    Most of my riding’s in the solo and routine category two or three times a week all year — easing into the mild pain involved in maintaining normal speeds over familiar, scenic, rural roads. When winds are low and roads are smooth, it’s more fun than when they’re not. Even with wind and rough chipseal, it’s nice knowing I’m still comfortable being outdoorsy this way. Plus, it’s good preparation for bikepacking tours involving the same amount of pain but done daily. After which strength/stamina’s nicely increased. And during which the hope for Type 1 fun sometimes becomes a hope for Type 2.

    Had vaguely realized previously that fun can be divided into Types 1 and 2. Type 3 doesn’t strike me as fun at all. It’s fun to pay the price for an ambition involving so much suffering you’ll never push it again!? Grateful, probably, to’ve survived; maybe even satisfied to’ve pulled it off. Those such as Shackleton might well delight in other people’s reactions to their stories, but even that doesn’t strike me as sufficient to change the memory of that type of suffering into something akin to Types 1 or 2 fun. You?

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