Base Miles

Late this summer, I’ll be riding my bike from San Francisco to San Diego with Bike the US For MS. So the next few months will be focused on fine tuning my conditioning. A key part of that will be building my base miles–hours spent in the saddle not pushing myself to establish personal bests, but simply building endurance and refining my comfort and technique on the bike.

Base miles aren’t glamorous, but they are necessary, and transformative. Those hours of steady training pay huge dividends during long, demanding, multi-day rides when the daily mileage can exceed 90, and wind and weather can make each of those miles seem much longer.

The core part of my base miles is my daily commute to work. It’s a 15 mile round trip, with 1100 feet of climbing. The individual 30-35 minute rides aren’t especially difficult, but ten of them each week, totaling 75 miles and 5500 feet of climbing starts to create a body of work. Adding a weekend ride of 40-60 miles and 2000-3000 feet of climbing builds that base that makes consecutive 90 mile days manageable.

I’m fortunate to live in an area with ample hills. Base miles comprised entirely of flat terrain don’t prepare a rider for the physical and mental challenges of long climbs. So rather than avoiding hilly routes I like to seek them out.

Ninety percent of my base miles are ridden on my road bike, since that’s what I’ll be riding on my BTUSFMS ride. But every once in a while, I like to mix it up a little, and take my mountain bike out on some trail.

Base miles are like daily practice in meditation. Any individual day might seem particularly rewarding or challenging, but it’s the cumulative effect of sustained intentional repetition that leads to increased resilience and greater flexibility to adapt to unforeseen conditions. Going with the flow, when it isn’t simply being swept away by the current, doesn’t happen randomly or by accident. It’s the result of actual choice and mindful preparation.

Follow along, if you’d like, as I prepare for the big ride at the end of August. And if you’d like to know more about BTUSFMS, visit their website at biketheusforms.org.

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