On January 10th, a young man rode from his home in Bethesda down to Hains Point and began doing laps. Nothing unusual. He kept going. For seven hours he rode, hitting the 100-mile mark, and then rode home.
Whew. A difficult ride. Physically and mentally draining.
Then he got back on his bike and did it again. All told, he rode 213.6 miles that day at Hains.
His name is Ben Jacoby, and he's trying to win Strava's Base Mile Blast Challenge.
Never mind that everyone else in Strava's top ten, all having ridden more miles in January than even the most ardent of professional cyclists, rides in warmer climes--Australia, Florida, or California.
Never mind others accumulate a large percentage of their miles doing group rides, where drafting allows them to average much higher speeds than Ben, riding solo.
Never mind that Ben has done a significant percentage of his miles on a fixed gear.
Never mind that Ben is just 18, and works a job.
How to put this in perspective? Let's look at Strava's leaderboard. Mike Frazier of Clearwater, Florida leads, having ridden 2,106.3 miles in 17 days, averaging 123.91 miles a day.
Mike is only slightly behind people who ride without sleeping, such as those competing in Race Across America (RAAM). RAAM is roughly 2,800 miles, with a record time of about 10 days. Mike apparently works and sleeps, but he has still managed to ride six or more hours a day at an average pace of 19.592 miles per hour. That's about 4.5mph faster than Ben, who--to his credit--can't usually hook up with pacelines or group rides because, well, freezing rain is a deterrent for most of us, so there haven't been that many rides here in the DC area lately.
Here's a chart showing the daily and cumulative miles Mike and Ben have put in over the 17 days.
Here's a more advanced chart that allows you to play with a number of variables.
You can change the variables on the axes, of the size and color of the data points, and so forth. Yeah, it's geeky, I know.
There is no prize for winning this challenge, so the competitors seem to be driven by different motivations. In an upcoming post, we'll hear from Ben about why he's doing it.