My 2016 Riding Goal

My mileage goal was to ride 100 miles/week.  I don’t think that’s too hard.  Most people can ride lots more than that in a given week.  And some people ride 100 miles/day.  The challenge really is to be consistent.  To ride that much every week.  Week after week.

Last year I didn’t really have a mileage goal other than to ride more than drive.  I did that but when I looked at my mileage last year it was 5,169.  And then I thought, I could have easily ridden 31 more miles to make it 5,200 miles which would be 100 miles/week.  So there was my goal for this year.  This year I got to 5200 miles but then I looked at my cyclometer.

photo-2 And I thought, I only need 48 more miles to round it up to 31,000 accumulated bike riding miles.  (When I got an adult bike in 2006.)  To give you an idea, in 2011, out of the 2673 miles, 1818 were on the Betty Foy from May through Dec.  The other 855 were on my old bike in the first 4 months of the year.  It took me 4 1/2 years to ride 5,855 miles on my first bike.  I almost ride that in a year now.

Based on purchase price, I’ve averaged my price on my Betty Foy down to about 10 cents a mile.  (Have you noticed that the cents symbol isn’t on a keyboard anymore?  Everything is in dollars because everything is that expensive.  But not my Betty Foy cost per mile.)


Below is the mileage since I’ve been riding my Rivendell Betty Foy:

2011  2,673

2012  3,756

2013  4,294

2014  4,669

2015  5,169

2016  5,439

I usually don’t like goals but they are useful to track progress.  My real goal is to just ride wherever I want to go.  But it needs to be quantifiable.  And so you actually have a way to measure how close or far away you are.

If you want to track your progress:

You can manually add miles to Strava which will be the connected to the National Bike Challenge.  You can join our team, Charlotte Spokes People.  Most people who do, are amazed at how tracking and seeing other people’s mileage encourages them to keep riding.  And join us on some rides.  Tues. at 10 am (when it’s hot) or 2 pm otherwise.   This ride leaves from Advent Coworking on corner of Louise/Otts one block from Central Coffee.  Tues at 8 pm is PMTNR (Plaza Midwood Tues Night Ride) from Common Market Plaza Midwood.  Sunday Slow Riders leaves from Legion Brewing at 2 pm or 8 pm when it’s hot.  All rides are on the calendar and each ride has a facebook page.


Bottom line:

  • You’ll never reach your goal if you don’t have one.
  • You’ll never reach your goal by sitting on the couch.
  • You have to progress toward your goal every day – or you’re going backwards away from it.
  • One step towards your goal is still progress.
  • Progress seems slow.
  • You’ll get there eventually.
  • Sometimes it’s sunny.  Sometimes it’s rainy.  Sometimes it’s hot.  Sometimes it’s cold.  Sometimes it’s windy.  Sometimes it’s perfect.


Next year my goal will be 5,500 miles courtesy of the monkey on my back from Douglas Welton.  He planted the seed of the idea and now I’m so close.  Maybe I’ll need to ride a little faster so it won’t take me so long.  I’m the turtle that will get there at some point.

Thanks for everyone who has ridden with me.  You all helped me get to my goal.  There’s a saying that if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.  We’ll get you to your first 1,000 miles then 3,000 then 5,000…

Come ride with us.



F.A.Q. 1

  1. Can I come ride PMTNR?  Do I need to register?  Pay?
    Of course you can come ride.  Everyone is welcome to ride with us.  No need to register or pay.  Just show up.
  2. Any other requirements?
    Lights – front and rear, a helmet and a road worthy bike and a positive attitude.  No Debbie Downers, please.
  3. I want to ride but don’t have a light?  Helmet?  Can I borrow one?
    PMTNR 5/12/15 Credit - Kaitlyn Akers

    PMTNR 5/12/15
    Credit – Kaitlyn Akers

    Yes, but let me know a day ahead of time so I can remember to bring it.  Bring $5 as a deposit.  You’ll get your money back when I get the borrowed light or helmet back.

  4. What does “road worthy” mean?
    Have you ridden your bike recently?  Have you pumped up the tires within the last week?  Have you checked your chain?  Do your brakes work?  Ride around the block a few times and make sure everything is ok.
  5. What bike should I bring?  Road?  Mountain Bike?
    Any bike that works if fine.  You’ll see all kinds of bikes.
  6. Do you think I’ll make it?
    If you’re unsure, go ride 10 miles and see how you feel.  Since we stop at 10 miles for a short break this is the most pedaling you’ll be doing.  The return is generally about 5 miles.  If you’re still unsure, bring $2 and put your bike on the bus.  Or look at the route and plan to peel off early.
  7. When will I get home?
    The ride usually tries to return to the start by 10:30.  We usually get to the stop at the 10 mile mark around 9:30.  We allow time for a drink and restroom break then return.  Sometimes this is delayed if we have mechanical issues along the way, if we have a large group, etc.  Look at the route before the ride and plan accordingly.  If you need to leave early, bring a friend so y’all can make sure you both get home.
  8. Why do you leave at 8 pm?
    Most people have a hard enough time getting to the start by 8.  By the time most people get home, let the dog out, and get their bike, it’s about 8.
  9. The forecast looks iffy.  Will you still ride?
    YES!  We NEVER cancel the ride.  If it’s Tuesday at 8 pm, we’re riding.
  10. When did you start the ride?
    April 2013.
  11. Where do I get a Bike Benefits sticker?
    At area participating businesses.  You can look at the Bike Benefits website and look for the sticker icon.  Or just ask me, I always have some.
  12. How much is a Bike Benefits (helmet) sticker?
  13. Does it expire?
  14. Where do I see all the Bike Benefit offers?
    On the pocket list.  Print one off once a month since they change as we add businesses.
  15. Do you have a car?
    Yes, I have a car.  I just don’t like driving as much as I enjoy riding my bike.

Charlotte is a Great Biking City 3

Best Cities

There are many important things a city can do to gain our consideration for this list: segregated bike lanes, municipal bike racks and bike boulevards, to name a few. If you have those things in your town, cyclists probably have the ear of the local government—another key factor. To make our Top 50, a city must also support a vibrant and diverse bike culture, and it must have smart, savvy bike shops.
Above is the first paragraph from the Bicycling article of the 50 best cities for biking.  I’m sure you’ve seen the article.   I take issue with the criteria and results.  Charlotte is a great place to ride your bike.  We may not have segregated bike lanes or bike boulevards but we do have buses and light rail trains equipped with bike racks.  We have the support of the city transportation department through the installation of bike detection signals at many intersections so bike can trigger the traffic signal and safely cross.  We have many municipal bike racks and building codes that require new buildings to provide both covered and uncovered bike parking.  Light rail park and ride stations have bike lockers where you can store your bike in a covered locker to secure your bike and all accessories.  Some buildings even provide bike lockers.  Bike culture in Charlotte is growing and diverse.  Not only does Charlotte have a variety of charity and race events such as 24 Hours of Booty and the Novant Criterium, we have great mountain biking, cross, and track events on local area trails, such as the Whitewater Center and the Rock Hill velodrome.  We have great local bike shops of all kinds.  We have a thriving Bike Benefits program that is the largest program in the country.  We have 190 businesses who support cyclists riding to their business by thanking them with an economic incentive.  We have bicycle events year round.  We have a great resource of Trips for Kids / The Recyclery that provides low income children a mountain bike experience they wouldn’t have otherwise.  TFK also has an earn a bike program and a shop that trains volunteers to work on bikes.  What a great community resource!  While some Charlotteans are intimidated by  changes in temperature and thus do not bike year round, Charlotte does have a temperate climate that enables one to bike all year.  I have biked year round for years.  I sometimes think the temperate climate decreases people’s likelihood to bike year round because small changes in temperature or weather seem to throw us.  But in places like Chicago, NYC or Madison where people are cooped up all winter, they burst outside to bike as soon as the daytime temperature hits 50 degrees or so.  It’s also similar in places like Seattle or Portland when it’s sunny.  Any time there’s a positive break in weather, people get outside.  I feel we in Charlotte often take for granted our pleasant climate.
Charlotte also has a thriving bike sharing system that has been a big hit.  We have a great tree canopy and a beautifully lush landscape.  Riding under the shade of the trees down streets full of unique homes is a daily treat in our hometown.  Neighborhoods are filled with beaming homeowners who take great pride in their homes.  Charlotte is a nice and clean city.   Cycling it is fairly straightforward.  For instance, while arterial roads do have to be used in some instances where creeks, rail road and utility rights of way cut through or where cul de sac neighborhoods were once built, most neighborhoods are connected.  We don’t have miles of bike lanes because they aren’t necessary.  Most of the streets are bike friendly.   I have a dislike for badly built bike lanes anyway even though that is part of the criteria for being rated in best cycling cities (See blog post).    My opinion on this is based on my riding experience with over 29,000 miles ridden in my career as a cyclist, as opposed to city planners who don’t usually ride bikes, but still make decisions for those of us who do.
Charlotte also has several signed bike routes to help you get from one part of town to another.  There is a growing multiuse path trail that will cross 30 miles through town when connected.  Many sections are complete and well-used.  In much of the city, it is possible to use your bicycle as your primary mode of transportation.  I live in Plaza Midwood and I can use my bike for everything. Some of the younger people moving into town often choose to cycle exclusively, never owning a car in the first place.  I believe cycling is part of the future of Charlotte.  
Through PMTNR we’re trying to help people get back on a bike, support local Bike Benefit businesses and share routes with them all while building road riding confidence.  Most people will ride on the greenway or around their neighborhood but wouldn’t otherwise be riding around on a Tuesday night. Our Tuesday group averages about 100 people each week during all but the coldest part of the year. Our stop almost always includes a bicycle benefits business.  This helps to familiarize new riders with all the places their bikes can take them in Charlotte.  It’s the highlight of my week.  It’s great to see so many smiling faces each week with flashing lights for blocks and blocks just riding around.  Come ride with us!

New rider tips

Both of our rides, PMTNR and Sunday Slow Ride, are meant to be beginner rides.  And we have new people riding with us all the time.  Still, there's a few things I'd suggest.  

  • Any bike is usually ok to ride depending on your ability.  The best bike to bring is a bike with wider tires and a wide range of gears.
  • It is easier to ride a bike with at least 7 gears and you should know how to change gears.  
  • Make sure you can pedal for about 30 minutes without stopping.  That sounds harder than it is because you're sitting down the whole time and sometimes you're just coasting downhill.  
  • Make sure you can pedal at about the same speed as someone runs at (about 10 mph).  
  • Bring a buddy.  Stay together.  If you want to go home, go together.  
  • Pump up your tires before the ride.  Check them with a gauge and look at the tire sidewall.  You'll see a number followed by psi.
  • Bring a helmet, front white light and a red rear light.  Make sure they work.  
  • Adjust your seatpost for maximum power and to prevent your knees from hurting.
  • Show up at 30 minutes prior the meet time (this is 7:15 for PMTNR and 5:15 for Sunday Slow Ride) and make sure you don't get left.  This will give you time to check everything before we leave.
  • Review the rules before you come.
  • The ride lasts from 8 to 10:15 pm with a 15 minute break at the 10 mile mark.
  • Bring a positive attitude and have fun!



PMTNR blog post by Bethanie

One of the most fun things about PMTNR is the people you meet when you come ride.  Bethanie is one of those people.  I think she's awesome because she is always willing to help, give an opinion and is always so positive.  She also happens to be an armed forces veteran, a single mom, a raft guide, works with children and is a great writer.  And since she's competitive, I'm sure she'll be the top ranked female in the Charlotte, NC National Bike Challenge before it ends.  Right now she's #2.  Right behind the girl who rode across the country.  But Bethanie is just a few points behind.  

Here's a post from her blog about PMTNR.  She gets what the ride is all about.

And a big thanks to all the people who make PMTNR possible.

Ryan – tech support, maps

Marley – leading the ride, and for bringing Henry

Matt – map support

Mark – supplying people with bikes

Ride leaders – Bethanie, Scott, Tate, Grace, Tony, Miguel, Zeke, Jonathon, Leisure, Yamo, Liz

And most important – Pel – for riding sweep and being the most supportive patient person on the planet

Thanks for riding with us.  Invite your friends.  

I hope to ride with you soon.

My routes

You can take a look at all my routes.  These are on Map My Ride.    I need to get better about naming and tagging them so I can tell where they go.  But anyway, here's how to find my route on Map My Ride.  Type in PMTNR and Charlotte NC and they should come up.  If I can figure out how to post a link, I'll edit this and insert it in this article.  I'm not good at this stuff.   [Try (requires login, free) -RS]

Warning: I know these routes may not be the shortest, most direct routes but are mostly low traffic, fun to ride (that is, not hilly) streets.  '

Some people have said they'd like to learn to get around better by bike.  I've just ridden around on all the roads to see which ones I like.  I use a map book – the ADC Street Atlas so i can see all the streets.  Then I take a look at Google Maps and Map My Ride.  I can click on roads I want to be on Map My Ride but sometimes I plug in a destination on Google Maps and use the Bike option to see what it would propose.  Some paths and parking lot cut throughs aren't on Google and it won't allow me to add these on Map Maker since they dont' qualify as bike paths.  Most streets in Charlotte are very rideable.  The exception is the arterial roads.  Sometimes these can't be avoided since they are sometimes the only way to cross a RR track, creek, etc.  

Just ride.

The story of PMTNR

One night after Critical Mass, the group who ride suggested we should ride more than once a month.  I think it was Erik, Beth, Amy, Adam, Randy.  We agreed to meet on Tuesday night at 8 pm.  And so it began.

Like most people, I loved to ride with others so that I could discover new routes, go different places, be more visible.  But most importantly, I just wanted to ride.  And like most people, between working, family commitments, etc. night time is the best time to consistently make time to ride.  Especially after daylight savings time when it's generally dark after work.  And I didn't want to ride alone as a female.  

Around this same time I was reading "On Bicycles."  The book mentioned Bike Parties such as San Jose Bike Party (SJBP) and it included references and links.  SJBP was described as a ride for everyone with a fun, positive vibe.  This was the inspiration for PMTNR.  I wanted the ride to be called the Tuesday Night Ride so everyone would remember what day it was.  We always met at the Common Market and since there are 2 Common Markets we added the PM for Plaza Midwood.  Thus, Plaza Midwood Tuesday Night Ride.  We chose 8 pm so we'd all have time to get home, have dinner then meet for the ride.  We all met and decided where to ride and we each took turns where we were going.  It was just a handful of people.  But I kept showing up and kept asking everyone to ride with me.  EVERY week.

Ryan suggested we make a facebook page so we could get the word out about the ride.  He set it up.  And we took pictures and then people saw how much we were having and started to come.  

We've tried to refine things along the way to try to improve the ride and so people will know what to expect.  We always ride 10 miles to a stop then another 5 miles to the beginning.  It's always right around 15 miles.  And we have a planned route with a leader and a sweep (the person in the back).  The sweep makes sure we don't lose anyone.  And to help with mechanical issues such as a chain that has fallen off, a flat tire, etc.  

And now we consistently have more than 100 riders every week when it's warm and sunny.  When it's threatening to rain, we have about 65 people and if it's snowing, we have about 12 people.  Amazingly, we all show up at 7:45 every week and we roll out at 8 pm.  

If you haven't ridden with us yet, please do come ride.  Just once.  You'll see how much fun it is.