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One man's junk ...


I came to a startling conclusion the other day.

I was reading an article about cycling training in some magazine or another and was chastised yet again to “cut out junk miles.”

Junk miles are the bane of many an endurance athlete. As any serious cyclist (or runner or triathlete or cross-country skier or volkswalker) knows, junk miles are those rides/runs/swims/walks that don’t improve at least one aspect of an athlete’s performance.

That is, if you’re not honing your sprint, or improving your lactate threshold, or bumping your VO2 max, you’re wasting your time.

My epiphany: Just about all my miles are junk miles.

I can’t remember the last time I strapped on a heart-rate monitor. I can’t recall trying to ballpark my LT threshold or calculate my wattage. I don’t do hill repeats or tempo rides or intervals.

Basically, I just get out and ride.

There’s a saying in cycling.

Actually, there are a lot of them, and I’ve found the bulk of them are annoyingly redundant, like, “If you want to ride faster, you have to ride faster,” or, “If you want to ride in the mountains, you have to ride in the mountains.”

Thus the formula for a pithy cycling-savvy saying is simple repetition: “If you want to grease your bottom bracket, grease your bottom bracket.”

Along those lines is this old saw: If all your rides are leisurely, you’re training your body for nothing but leisurely rides.

Back when I was preparing for a 100-mile (century) ride, I stretched my longest rides so I’d be ready to go long. When I was preparing to ride in the mountains, I did more climbing. Before I headed off to Texas in the middle of the summer, I did more rides in the heat of the day.

But now that I don’t have a target event — no races, no epic rides — on the horizon, I just ride. I might throw in a sprint every now and then for good measure, or I might push the pace on a hill, but really I’m just rolling up junk miles.

And I’m OK with that, but I do take issue with the term.

Junk miles suggest there’s no benefit at all in the saddle time, and that’s just wrong. I might not be getting faster. I might not be going uphill better, or capable of riding longer.

But junk miles? If what I’m doing is junk, I wonder what to call sitting behind the wheel of a car, cursing gas prices and traffic and vegging out on talk radio.


RoeDapple 8 years, 11 months ago

If nothing else you are staying in practice dodging the 1 in 25 drivers who don't see you............

puddleglum 8 years, 11 months ago

if you are just spinning junk miles, at least you can take the time to cut in front of cars, blow through stop signs, and slow down traffic on dg co. rd 458.....since cyclists get blamed for it anyway-someone might as well do it.

trinity 8 years, 11 months ago

this column wasn't at all what i thought it'd be, based on the title...

Joel Hood 8 years, 11 months ago


with dudes in spandex and "man's junk" in the title, just what were you expecting to see?

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 11 months ago

The wheels have come off this thread already.

puddleglum 8 years, 11 months ago

I used to stare at andrew's seat, but I put the brakes on that. Now, I shifted into another gear-I pedalled through these posts and grew tired of all the puns. the gloves are off.

trinity 8 years, 11 months ago

i better not say, jayhawker joel-don't wanna get disappeareded!

Joel Hood 8 years, 11 months ago

trinity, true, I read gl0ck0wn3r's response and am rather surprised it ended up in Guantanamo.

Too bad Marion didn't write it... it would have lived forever.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 11 months ago

I thought it was going to be about a garage sale. I thought about getting a bike then decided against it as the extras would cost as much as the bike. And, I don't want to wear a helmet. They look silly. Do they have to be that shape? I suppose it would depend on why you ride, 1. to get from point a to point b 2. to burn off calories 3. to tone up 4. to prove you can do it better than someone else

parrothead8 8 years, 11 months ago

Irish...they thought about making helmets in other shapes, but they couldn't get the darned triangular ones to fit on those pesky, round-shaped human skulls. Oh, and you don't currently have to wear a helmet in Kansas (http://www.iihs.org/laws/HelmetUseCurrent.aspx). Seeing as you only get one brain, though...

Nice column, Andrew. I ride because it's fun and so I don't get fat.

kusp8 8 years, 11 months ago

I thought this was going to be about a certain male anatomical part.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 11 months ago

Oh come on... one can't mock a headline?

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