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• Joe.Cannon

Days 1-51: By the Numbers...

Those who know me well, or if you have simply read much of this blog, you know I am a data geek. I have a power meter on my bike that tracks how much effort I put into each pedal stroke; I use apps like Garmin, RideWithGPS, Strava, Epic Ride Weather, and more to get insight on my rides. Of course data is also central to my job as a professor--in my teaching, research, and textbook writing.

This blog post is, this is an opportunity to share some of the data from the ride. What do the numbers have to say about that little bike ride I did over the last couple of months. I have divided my presentation of the data into groups: 1) Data for the whole ride, 2) Data for individual days, and 3) Objective measures of the hardest ride days.

Data for the whole ride

This first set of numbers shows numbers (total or averages) for the whole ride.

• 1,111,423 = total pedal strokes

• 178,727 feet = total elevation gained (climbs)

• 3765 feet = average elevation gained per day. Note: of my 10 highest climbing days, 7 occur in the last 10 days of the ride.

• 159,649 = total calories burned from exercise (according to some Garmin formula)

• 3443 = average calories burned per day

• 3760 = total miles

• 81.1 = average miles per ride day

• 144 = average normalized power (a measure of the amount of power I put into the pedals). I felt stronger at the end, and I did put show more power (maybe also because steeper hills required it). Out of my 10 highest normalized power days, 9 occur after day 37, most in the Appalachians where steep rides (and fortunately a more fit rider) met the challenge.

• 139 = average normalized power Days 1-36

• 157 = average normalized power Days 37-51

• 25 = number of "loose dogs" that chased me -- only two got closer than four feet.

• 24 = number of consecutive riding days (without rest) to finish out the ride

• 6:04 = average moving time per ride day. I started riding longer after Pueblo; average moving time before Pueblo was 5:26 and after 6:42.

• 8 = number of days where I rode over 100 miles in a single day (a Century). There were another 6 days in the 90-100 mile range.

• 7 = the number of TransAm Bike Racers I talked with during my ride.

• 4 = number of flat tires (at least two were incurred "off-route" riding through neighborhoods).

Individual day - highlights

The following numbers are the highest, fastest, furthest, etc. on a single day of the ride.

• 11,203 = feet above sea level, highest elevation (Day 24: Gunnison to Salida)

• 9364 = feet of vertical climbing, most in a single day (Day 4 Plymouth to Alpine Village - my climb into the Sierras). 9151 = second biggest climbing day (Day 18: Hanksville to Blanding). This second one might be overstated as my Garmin failed and I am using the RideWithGPS elevation gain which generally was higher than those recorded on my Garmin. No other climbing days exceeded 8000 feet.

• 125 miles = longest ride in one day (Day 18: Hanksville to Blanding), second 118 (Day 35: Pittsburg to Marshfield), third 114 miles (Day 38: Pilot Knob to Carbondale).

• 48.8 mph = fastest recorded speed (Day 17: Boulder to Hanksville). On 18 days my top speed exceeded 40 mph. 14 of those 18 happened in the first (western) half of the trip. The second half of the trip did not have nearly as many of the long relatively straight downhills needed to get up that speed.

• 10:21 = hours: minutes, highest "moving time" in a single day (estimated, I recorded 9:41 before my Garmin died). (Day 18: Hanksville to Blanding). The second highest moving time in a single day 9:15 (Day 35: Pittsburg, KS to Marshfield, MO) and the third highest was 8:54 (Day 4: Plymouth to Alpine Village).

• 18% = highest grade (steep) that I saw on my Garmin. I had to look down to see it, which I tend to do more often when I am on a really hard climb. I definitely saw this number on at least two different days.

What do these the data say were the hardest riding days?

There are a few data points that might be used to assess how hard a riding day was. A few of those are shown above--most miles in a day and highest climb in a day. Garmin uses measures of normalized power, intensity factor, and duration to create a Training Stress Score (TSS), defined as "a way of measuring how much stress is put on the body from a ride." Based on this score, the following were my most stressful days.

1. Day 43: Berea to Hazard (TSS = 452) was a challenging day in the Appalachians. 100.0 miles, 7785 in elevation gain, and some dog worries on the brain.

2. Day 4: Plymouth to Alpine Village (TSS = 406) was an early test of my fitness as we climbed into the Sierras. The ride was just 76.3 miles but included the greatest single-day total ascent of the whole trip (9364).

3. Day 38: Pilot Knob to Carbondale (TSS = 406) which was a day I cranked out 114 miles.

4. Day 37: Summersville to Pilot Knob (TSS = 399), stressful as cars were not being nice that day.

5. Day 35: Pittsburg to Marshfield (TSS = 381), I cranked out 118 miles on a very hot day.

A couple of comments on the above list. First, it is a bit of a surprise that Day 18: Hanksville to Blanding (longest ride by distance and second longest by elevation gain) did not make this short list. I think that may be because my Garmin died and did not fully capture my misery over the last 30 minutes or so (and I had no good way to estimate this missing data). Plus, having Chris there to give me cold water a lot may have aided my recovery. It was still in the top 10 on TSS. Second, it was interesting that three of the hardest days fell across four consecutive days in Missouri and Illinois. After the last of those days, I took a couple of my "rolling recovery" lower mileage (~65 miles) and at a more modest pace. That said, I never took a day off after Pueblo.

Next post...

I hope at least a few of you find these "data" interesting. I have another 2-3 additional post ideas. After giving this data-driven, objective assessment of the ride, I want to make a subjective post that will recall my favorite (and least favorite) days, hardest and easiest days, my best riding days, my best (and worst) experiences, and more. Give me a week to pull that one together.

I also have promised a "reflection" post. I am still ruminating on that one and hope to have something to share in a week or so. I might also post something about what I might do different next time (Will there be a next time? I don't really think so, but maybe it helps someone else for me to comment on what I might do different if I had to do it over.)

Keep your eyes out for these posts if they sound worth reading.

Charles Ebert
Jul 22, 2022

I found the pedal strokes, loose dogs, and calories burned the most interesting! Definitely, beat my workouts this summer! Well done Joe, a real accomplishment.

As well as doing some data crunching myself, I'm also a picture guy. Maybe we could have a post that is a picture compilation. A kind of 'best pics' post.

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paulbeiser
Jul 20, 2022

Incredibly interesting. Only 4 flats, that's VERY impressive, any idea why so few? 18%, Holy Moly, I can barely get up some of the 14% grades around here, and I'm sure above that the effort is way non-linear. Look forward to you subjective thoughts.

All in all, a most impressive performance, esp no rest days after Pueblo. All of your training, planning, preparation, and (most importantly) mental attitude payed off.

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Rob Hesselmann
Jul 20, 2022

Joe,

The data is fascinating, and helps to put into perspective the physical journey.

This reader at least, is also interested in your review of the emotional journey!

Rob

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Kelly Cannon
Jul 20, 2022

You know I also love the data! Cool to see. Amazing you averaged over 80 miles per day and more than six hours of move time per day!

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