Graphing the past and ambitious near future

February 27, 2013

So, two of my main loves in life are all things cycling, and all things data.  Working with numbers, finding trends and meaning in data, graphing, etc.  It’s quite natural that I embrace opportunities to combine these two interests  🙂

In this post are four charts representing varying looks into my cycling “career” to date, plus a look at a prospective 2013 in which I accomplish an ambitious mileage goal.


Above:  From 9/1/2011 through current day, this is the cumulative mileage I’ve ridden.  The first big upward surge about 1/3 of the way from left starts in March 2012, when I experienced a reawakening to the desire to ride the bike and lose weight.  That upswing in cumulative mileage continues fairly well until the little plateau in the graph’s middle – which was my hiatus-inducing injury in July (see earlier blog post here).  After that, my cumulative mileage continues to climb even more steeply into the summer and fall.  The little jump about 3/4 of the way into the graph reflects our Katy Trail ride (see earlier blog post here).  After that it continues, more gradually, until early 2013, which is a much smoother grade to current day.  I’ve not ridden nearly as much this winter as I’d like, which this post reflects graphically a couple different ways.


Above:  From 3/25/2012 (my reawakening alluded to above) through current day. This measures the average distance per ride – i.e. whenever I saddle up and head out on the bike, on the average this is how far I go.  This chart follows the evolution of that average from 3/25/2012 forward. The first huge jump is a consequence of my first Prairie Spirit Trail 2-day tour (see earlier blog post here).  From there, the average ride meanders around and drifts back down until early August – shortly after returning from my injury.  Thereafter, the average ride distance continues to steadily climb, peaking in mid-October (27.35 mile average ride distance) following our Katy Trail ride.  It has gradually retreated from that, but is still about 26.5.  So this means that my average ride distance since late March 2012 is about 26.5 miles.


Above:  From 9/1/2011 through current day, this is my average mileage per calendar day.  This is not the same thing as graph # 2.  While graph #2 measures the average distance I’m going to ride when I saddle up, this graph #3 is a measure of my average bike miles per calendar day.  For example, if my entire ride history consisted of 7 days, in which I took one ride of 7 miles, then the top graph would show 7 miles (average ride distance) while this last graph would show 1 mile (average miles biked per calendar day).  For this reason, graph #2 is a better measurement of consistency of ride distance; graph #3 is a better hybrid measurement of ride distance as well as ride frequency.  Once again, the first big dropoff on the chart (1/3rd of the way through) is the time of my injury, when I wasn’t riding at all – therefore, my average miles biked per day was dropping, dropping.  I then resumed riding regularly, and with improving distance, so the averages climbed – up to my top average of 8.26 in mid-October.  So this means that I rode my bike an average of 8.26 miles per calendar day since I started tracking.  It’s on this chart that my relative inactivity in 2013 to date really shows (toward right of graph).  The point where it starts really trailing off was early January.  I’ve not been riding much, so my average mileage per day is dropping.  As of 2/26 (the last point on the graph), my average mileage, at 7.99, has dipped below 8 for the first time since immediately before our Katy Trail ride.

With the winter in its final gasps, of course, and riding season knocking on the door, all these stats will dramatically evolve.   Which is a nice segue to the final graph.


This is the same as # 3 above, but with an added “target line” (green dashes).  This line – 10.71 average mileage per calendar day – represents the level I will have needed to reach on 12/31/2013 in order to achieve my recently-posted target of 5000 miles for the year (see earlier blog post here).  This illustrates the scale of what that goal would represent for me in terms of progress; I’d jump from an average daily mileage of 8 miles, garnered over 548 calendar days, to an overall average of 10.7 (39% increase) in only an additional 306 days.  This, then, is the meaning of the dashed white line on the graph – this is the average daily mileage I’ll have to attain for the remaining 10 months of 2013 in order to hit my goal.  15.6 miles per calendar day…close to twice what I’ve averaged since I began tracking.  Quite a jump!


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