Question: You mentioned once that you and your wife rode a century on your tandem in 5:30, not counting the time spent at rest stops chatting with RBR readers. As an aspiring randonneur, I’ve always counted ride time from start to finish and included time off the bike. What’s the correct way to do it? — Manny R.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Good question! For training diary purposes, I count only the time the wheels are actually turning.
Most computers do it automatically, shutting off when wheels cease rolling at traffic lights and rest stops. I like it this way because I only want to credit myself with actual pedaling time.
Whenever I ride without a computer — my mountain bike doesn’t have one — I check the time at the beginning and end of the ride, then subtract an estimate of how long I stopped to look at the scenery or have a snack.
Not all riders do it this way. Cycling coach and author Arnie Baker, for example, tells his riders to log total elapsed time for each ride as long as they didn’t dally at any stops.
Arnie reasons that in the workplace, you get a mid-morning and afternoon break, as well as lunch, so hard-working riders should get the same perks.
On organized rides, I long ago gave up trying to ride a fast total time. When I was at Bicycling magazine and wore a jersey saying so, I would get waylaid at every rest stop by readers who wanted to chat.
It was the same in Grand Junction, Colorado, some years ago at the century you mentioned. Because we were testing an eye-catching Bike Friday tandem and RBR Newsletter had announced that I’d be at the event, lots of riders came over.
I like to talk with folks, but doing so means dwelling at rest stops longer than I normally would. So I only count actual riding time to get a more accurate measure of effort.
For your randonneeevents, though, you really don’t have a choice. The clock is always running, and you must reach each checkpoint before the hour it closes or be DQ’d.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.