What is the WTCA Mileage Award?
The WTCA mileage competition starts on December 1 of a given year and ends on November 30 of the following one. Why? If we were to use the calendar year, we would not be able to give out the mileage awards at our Christmas banquet during the first week or so of December.
To participate, set a realistic mileage goal for yourself. It can be anything: Some folks like a round number (1,500 or 5,000), others go with something a bit wacko (1,234) or truly novel (2,013 was a popular in 2013), and some try to make sure that their final achievement stands the test of scrutiny (6,002—an extra couple of miles thrown in just to make sure). High or low, it doesn’t matter as this is primarily a personal competition along the lines of “Can I make it?” and only secondarily a contest of "Who will ride the most miles?"
When you set your goal, think about your usual riding habits. How often do you go out in the winter, or in the summer? How many miles can you ride in a week, approximately? Do you have lots of business travel or bike-less vacations coming up? Is a new baby on the way? Or do you have a goal of finally shedding those extra 10 pounds and use the bike to help you in your quest? Do you primarily ride a mountain bike out on the trails, or are you a roadie? Come up with a number that is right for you, and then, maybe, extend it just a little to truly make this a challenge for yourself. If you have been riding about 2,000 miles every year since you took up cycling, setting (and surpassing) a goal of 1,500 won’t be as satisfying as setting (and reaching) 2,400.
Ideally you will have to reach just a little more than you would without the goal. We all know those days when we really don’t feel like going out to ride, but still, you need the miles and so you do go out—and feel better afterward. Or you steal those extra three miles on the way home by choosing the longer route. Voilà, another small achievement. That’s what this is all about.
Members often ask, "Can I count my trainer miles?" Sure, if that’s what you want to do. Find an equitable way to translate your trainer miles to miles to report; nobody but your conscience will police you.
As a rule of thumb, you get 1 mile credit for 1 mile ridden on the road. That’s the baseline. If you ride your mountain bike on the trails, you get more miles credit for every mile that you have ridden simply because it takes longer and more effort to cover a mile of technical singletrack. And if you pack up your belongings for a week of cyclo-touring in the summer, hauling your kitchen sink with a trailer over Independence Pass, well, you’re entitled to even more miles for every laborious mile ridden. So maybe, if your mind-numbing trainer has no resistance and you’re zipping along at what the speedometer says is 30 mph, you should count only half a mile for that "effort."
At the end of any given month, participants are asked to report miles ridden for that month. Miles are transferred into a spreadsheet, and the results are published in the newsletter as well as online, updated month to month. An email reminder is sent out and miles should be reported as soon as possible.
The published chart shows everybody’s overall progress, in total miles as well as a percentage of the stated goal. Should you find that you really are riding more than anticipated, you can always ratchet up your goal—all it takes is an e-mail. Once again, this is mainly about the personal challenge, so if after just two months you become discouraged with your having to ride 150 miles every week and simply can’t do it, rather than dropping out of the competition and possibly reducing your riding much more significantly, why not adjust your goal to something more realistic? Feel challenged, but don’t become crushed by a non-realistic goal.
It’s a good idea to cross-check the published chart with your records as on occasion, numbers can get transposed or screwed up. It’s all fixable.
At the end of a successful mileage year, you will receive a faux-crystal award that attests that you reached or surpassed your stated goal.
And if you didn’t quite make it, well, there’s always next year, right?