We do this every year, right about this time. The dreary weather, annoyance with our busy schedules, and our belief in unbridled riding dreams compel us to put pen to paper and write down our goals for the coming year. We are ambitious and wild in our goal setting. In these daydream moments we can easily undertake long weekend trips to far-away locations in search of winding country roads, secret singletrack, or racing glory. Collecting all these rides, races, and adventures, though, is a number, the annual mileage goal, and the foundation of achieving that goal is often built by the average, forgotten days on the bike. As we look to create 2017 riding goals we take a look back at 2016 and how Vince Rodarte achieved his yearly riding goal, (twice!), and how those less-than-epic days are the important ones.
Congratulations, Vince, you reached your riding goal with plenty of time to spare in 2016. So much so that you added a bonus goal that, as of two days ago, you’ve reached as well. Take us through the process of setting that goal and then adding to it.
Thanks! Yeah, I think my goal was pretty legit; just far enough that I’d have to work for it, but totally attainable. (Vince’s original goal was 2,500 miles and later updated to 3,000)
As far as setting that goal, well, 2015 ended badly for me. A fire destroyed the office where I was working and ultimately ended my job. I was feeling down and, as such, not riding at all. I decided that riding my bike again was going to be what “saved” me. I’d returned* to River City Bicycles for work and during a late January wet and muddy mountain bike ride I rediscovered the passion for riding. In February I started making an effort to get as much saddle time as I could, though with family and work, long rides weren’t always possible. My commute would have to be where I earned my grins. I also stoked a few guys at the River City Bicycles Outlet store to get out on mountain bikes when we could. It helps when you have a group to ride with. It started there, just riding when I could for fun and then morphed into the thought, “I wonder how many miles I can ride before December 31st?”.
I began logging my commute miles using the Strava app on my phone. I rode the Silver Star Prison Break gravel grinder in Washougal, WA this past March on my Surly Crosscheck as a single speed. 55 miles and 6800′ of elevation. Whew! After that I logged almost every ride no matter how long or short. As the mile tally grew, the stress and depression I had been experiencing seemed to melt away… along with some extra pounds I had been carrying around.
You had second thoughts about the bonus goal, correct?
I had second thoughts on my bonus goal after not being able to race SSCXWCPDX due to personal matters away from the bike and also just plain getting sick. Part of my motivation to ride 2,500 miles as my original goal was in preparation for that race. I wanted to have an inkling of form and fitness, both of which I am still working towards! In the end, I figured I made it this far, I might as well go all the way and just atop it off with another 500 miles. As a reward for that the universe introduced me to Sven Nys at the pre-race party though that was the extent of my race weekend. I’ll take it!
Did you do anything to celebrate the achievement such as a special ride to hit the magic number? What about afterwards? Was there a reward or treat you’d set for yourself if you made it?
The night before I hit my goal I was going to take a longer route home to rack up the missing miles then but I rode straight home. Ugh, 2.5 miles short. The next day I suited up for my ride and took a route up to the top of Mt. Tabor Park (An extinct cinder cone peaking at 636 and offering a great view of the city). At 3,003 miles I stopped to look West from Tabor onto a fog-shrouded downtown. I rewarded myself with a nice lunch from Sheridan’s market near work. It’s the little things, really.
How important is it to set a reward goal for yourself? Is the final goal enough for you or do you need incentives to keep it going?
I feel accomplishment of the goal is reward enough. And beer. Accomplishment of the goal and beer. Yup, that’s it.
Is it important for other people to know your goal?
I chose to make my progress public and made it available through my social media accounts to hold myself accountable. I couldn’t hide.
It’s fair to say that only professional cyclists can count on reaching their riding goals with certainty. You have a job and a family, how do you coordinate those responsibilities with finding time to ride?
I try to fit my riding in during “my” time. My commutes in the morning are after everyone is out to door on their way or already at school. My recreational rides usually include one, if not both, of my teenage sons. I also try to get out on the road or dirt with my wife on occasion.
You’re a Strava user, did you track every ride you did in 2016 towards this goal?
Yep, mostly every ride was tracked. I’m sure there were some I missed earlier in the year. Every morning and evening I would make sure to start the app and do my ride.
Do you differentiate riding versus commuting in your Strava postings?
Oh yeah. I made sure I marked my commutes. If I plan to end up at work – Commute. Most of my non-commute rides were mountain bike rides. (editor’s note – Strava uses commuting data to provide city planners with information about where people ride and run with the intention of improving infrastructure for those activities.)
How much, by percentage, was racing in 2016 as part of your total?
Racing was a very small, but important for the soul, portion of my total. I got out to one short track mountain bike race and a few early season cyclocross races. I like to compete and this overall goal was a competition with myself so it was fun to apply some of the work toward real competition.
You are a singlespeeder, how much of your riding was done on a singlespeed?
I would say approximately 1/3 was completed on a single speed. My biggest ride was done on one gear.
What type of GPS device do you use? What are the data points you use the most? Any plans to change your equipment for 2017?
I primarily use my phone with the Strava app to track my miles. I did use a Garmin for some longer rides though I did mostly just use my phone; it’s easy and I always have it on me. I regularly ride 6 bikes and the phone makes it easy to be ready to go. I’m thinking about getting myself a Garmin Edge Explore 820 and using the extra functionality to add some off-road overnight excursions this coming year. I’m gonna need a lot of extra handlebar mounts for all those bikes! I mainly make note of my commute times for certain routes, so I know what kind of ride I have time for in the mornings before work. I don’t pay too much attention to KOMs, but I’m always looking to improve myself by looking at my PRs.
Talking about 2017, what’s your goal for the year and what are the motivations behind setting this new goal?
Ok… after some consideration on what I’ve accomplished with just my 7-15 mile commute, I want to hit 5,000 miles in 2017. I plan on riding my first century this year and hope to do a few bike packing trips too. All this riding is to help improve my overall fitness and well being.
Thank you, Vince, we enjoyed following along this year and we’ll be doing the same in 2017. No doubt, we’ll be along for a few rides with you. Cheers to you and everyone as they put the pedal down for those first rides towards 2017 goals. Make ‘em big, make ‘em fun.
* About Vince: “In 2010, at the suggestion of my wife, we moved our family from Southern California to Portland. Portland just felt like home, more so than California ever did. I’ve been working in the bicycle industry since 1993 and it seemed natural to move to a city that embraced my passion for two wheels. I began working for River City Bicycles Outlet in 2011, left for a few years, and am back now with this great crew. These days I manage web sales for River City Bicycles.”