A Numbers Game

I spend far too much time reading cycling blogs so I’ve only got myself to blame for a growing obsession with the numbers. Or rather, one particular number and in this perhaps GOM1 of Tlatet shares some of the blame because he was the one who introduced me to it: the Eddington Number.

The Eddington Number is defined as E, the number of days a cyclist has cycled more than E miles – Eddington himself had an E number of 87, i.e. he had ridden at least 87 miles on 87 separate days in his lifetime. Now according to Map My Ride, another obsession of mine, the trip down to papershop village and back is just over 11 miles, and I’ve easily done 11 or more of them so my E number (discounting all rides taken before I moved up here because I’ve no idea how long they were) is a pathetic 11, and (and this is the killer with Eddington numbers) no matter how many more times I cycle down there and back it’s not going to get any higher either. So I’m forced to find longer rides, and keep lengthening them if I want to see the number improve. Which, curiously enough, I do. I don’t care how fast I go, how many calories I allegedly burn (MMR has a fairly random approach to calories burnt, in my experience) or anything like that but I’d like to have a better value for E

So today, I worked out a different route to Papershop Village, one I’m dubbing the masochist’s papershop run. Not only is it 3 miles longer than the shortest route, it goes over several highly unnecessary hills. This time I did at least remember to check out the contour lines before I set off, although I was using an old map and airily assumed that the elevations were in feet, not metres*.  The end result was 14.5 miles in 1 hour and *cough* quite a lot of minutes, and I only had to get off the bike and push once, when I had slowed down to look at a topiary bird placed out way in the middle of nowhere, and failed to get enough momentum for the vertical climb that was round the bend. I saw buzzards and wheatears (bringing my birds I have positively identified from the bike list up to 7) and a squashed weasel (bringing my squashed animals on the road list up to 5), and precisely no cars until I got almost into the village itself and encountered a prat in a jag holding his racing line round a bend despite the fact that this meant going over into my side of the road (bringing my arseholes behind the wheel list up to 394).

Numbers, numbers, numbers – I love them. I’m thinking of starting a spreadsheet now, just to keep track. What do you measure? And what is your highest value for E?

*I was wrong.

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16 Responses to A Numbers Game

  1. Dom says:

    I have an E of 0. Unless you count the bike in the gym where I can probably claim… er… 2? My E for trains on the other hand :D

  2. disgruntled says:

    Trains don’t count. Get yourself a proper bike!

  3. GOM1 says:

    Thanks for the reference.

    Numbers are great, and obsessing about them isn’t odd. Really.

    I log each ride in a spreadsheet, which then works out various averages, draws graphs and all sorts. Normally at least one of the figures will make me feel that I am making progress, even when the others are looking a bit feeble.

    I think you have put your finger on the strength and the weakness of e-numbers. The trick seems to be to look a bit ahead (so that you anticipate upcoming gaps in the sequence and plan rides that will fill them) but not too far (which is just discouraging). Mine is currently 25.

  4. disgruntled says:

    Ooh I’m jealous of your spreadsheet now! I know what you mean about having lots of numbers so there’s always one that’s going up. WordPress stats can be the same…

  5. cha0tic says:

    I quite like playing numbers games as well, it makes the day more interesting. I once climbed a mountain at work taking chairs up to the balcony. The stairs were approximately 25′ & due to the number of chairs & therefore journeys I’d climbed over 3000′ Half way through the job the guy wheeling them up the street wanted to swap. I wouldn’t let him. As I’d already worked out that if I did all the stairs myself I’d have climbed a mountain*.
    I’ve done similar calculations with scaff’ & Heras blocks, sometimes shifting 20 tonnes of stuff in a day.
    Does this make me a saddo?

    *The view wasn’t as nice as a real mountain though.

  6. disgruntled says:

    I think that’s an eminently sensible way to get through a job like that. And as a bonus, it means that when you climb a mountain you’ll be doubly grateful that you’re not carrying any chairs.

  7. bikinginla says:

    Personally, I log every ride on my calendar, noting how far I rode that day, then let the calendars pile up in my closet. I suppose one day I’ll have to go through them with a calculator and see just how far I’ve gone over the years.

    Frankly, though, I’m far more fascinated with your “squashed animal” and “arsehole behind the wheel” lists; I’m not sure I could count high enough to tabulate the latter. Thanks for starting my day with a smile.

  8. disgruntled says:

    I’m sure your E will be huge. And probably your ABTW count as well…

  9. bikinginla says:

    Well, if you count my younger days, when I rode at least 50 miles a day…. These days, I could probably claim 38 or so. As for the ABTW, I really do try to focus on the thousands of drivers who are safe and courteous, as opposed to the one or two who aren’t.

    Really, I do try.

  10. 2whls3spds says:

    I am not a numbers person…I do realize they may have a purpose in the “real” world ;-) related to things like the paycheck or the cost of tea in China. But I remember my rides by where I went, what I saw, who I rode with and sometimes what I rode. Back in my racing days I was obsessed with the weights of various items, miles rode and speed. Now I could care less. My typical trip to the grocery store is 1.5 miles, the loop to the various farm front produce stands varies from 7-12 miles. That loop can take 3-5 hour to complete depending on friends and acquaintances seen along the way. Currently AFAIK I am only 1 of 3 cyclists in the area. (There you go, I do use numbers after all!)

    There is nothing wrong with walking up the occasional hill, quite often I will walk for a change of pace or to enjoy things along the roadside that I would otherwise miss at my normal cycling speed.

    Aaron

  11. disgruntled says:

    I don’t mind voluntarily walking up a hill (although I do hate wheeling a bike – why do they have to become so awkward?) – it’s being defeated by one that gets me …

  12. [...] other news, my E number has finally crept up to twelve. Pathetic. Must try harder. If only to ensure that every last [...]

  13. Elizabeth says:

    All hills are unnecessary when cycling.

  14. Jeffrey Hall says:

    I’m hooked on E too. However, I don’t know of any evidence than Eddington referred to it as E (he used n), and I don’t think he could have reached 87. According to Chandrasekhar’s bio of Eddington, he was at 77 just a year before he died — which is still pretty darn good. You can find more, as well as the image that GOM1 used on his blog, on my page about all this here: Eddington Number. It’s a great motivator, but in recent years I’ve gotten more into trail riding, so my E has totally stalled out!

  15. disgruntled says:

    Ah – Wikipedia strikes again – apologies for the inaccuracy. I suppose Eddington wouldn’t use E himself, but it seems suitable to use it now.

    Mine is creeping upwards after a slow start this year…

  16. [...] for my numbers, and particularly my unofficial New Year’s resolution goal of increasing my Eddington number by one every month, not that numbers are important at all in cycling, ahem*. My problem is that [...]

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