Measuring the Year

How do you get a measure of the success of a cycling year? It’s easy enough to just look at the graphics that Strava or Veloviewer produce and compare them to previous years. The headline stats of distance, elevation, or longest ride are the sort of snapshot stats that only provide a one-dimensional view of what has gone on. Similar, I suppose, to cricket, where total runs scored is meaningless on its own – it’s really average that you’re after. And even then, average isn’t perfect, with an inherent bias to favour batsmen coming in further down the order.

For example, I rode 6,500 miles this year, which is more than 1,000 up on my previous record. But 2,500 of those were commuting to work (granted, usually taking the long way there), so do those count? Is there a way of ignoring the boring, have-to rides, and only counting the ones you want? Or leaving out the easy tootles, focusing instead on the tough ones where you were really training hard?

I’ve taken a liking to the Eddington number. Not just for the career score (which I’ve upped to 61 this year, and 20% of the way to my long term target of 100). I think the annual score gives a good estimation of the quality of a years’ riding (33, 37, and 39 for the past three years). But then I thought – if a decent aim for an annual Eddington is 52 (a ride of at least 52 miles once a week on average), then measuring how far off that weekly target might be worth doing, right?

So, this leads to a number that you’ve hit, in miles, at least 52 times in a year. Similarly to Eddington, it’s based on daily mileage, so add together any rides on the same day. Order them in decreasing size, and find the 52nd largest one. My numbers for the last three years are 22, 29, and 34. A decent measure of year-round consistency, perhaps, but is it good enough? More of a spread than Eddington, for sure, but how about including something other than distance and count?

Bear in mind that I’ve previously written about a ride score based on elevation: a rating out of 10, where 10 is an average elevation gain of 100ft per mile. (And yes, you can get more than 10 out of 10 – Fred Whitton, for example, is 11). That isn’t really usable here, but if we take the elevation in feet, divide by 50, and take the average of that and the distance in miles, it gives a good elevation-scaled figure to use. Taking the highest number done 52 times gives 18, 26, and 31 for the last three years. So, 2018 was 72% more impressive than 2016 according to this measure, which I think reflects the effort I put in a bit better than the 18% better than Eddington gives.

So there you have my contribution to cycling statistics: the only question remaining is what shall we call it?

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1 Response to Measuring the Year

  1. Brad Nixon says:

    What shall we call it? Criminy, Nick, the rest of us are struggling to grasp it, which is necessary before naming something. This is “shaving” of an extreme degree, and I’m here in the poetry department, down the hall from the actuaries.
    My only hope is that — because this is a differential margin between Eddington and X — the plus or minus Eddington would be Ticked-on/Ticked-off. Or perhaps Ticked-up/Ticked-down, and the package is the Tick-It Counter.

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