Kona Endurance Team Racer Spencer Paxson Crunches Data with Graphics from Big Rides

Kona Endurance Team racer Spencer Paxson’s most recent update is a data-rich look at some of the big rides he’s done this year. Beginning with some philosophy from Hegel as a setup, Spencer looks at stats and ride information that puts his season into perspective. Is he in control of his own destiny? Depends whose philosophy you subscribe to…

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Pre-Ride Thought Experiment #81: Once upon a time there was a German philosopher named Georg W.F. Hegel who promoted the notion that the only true picture of life comes from the outside looking in. Amongst the pretentious crowd it may be referred to as Hegelian Absolutism.

According to this view, life unfolds from one age to the next, where one trend inspires the next (anti)trend, which begets the next as a mix of that before it, and so-on. It’s a constant process of problem>reaction>solution, but the catch is that there’s nothing you or I can do about it.

Inside looking way out! The end (almost) of a 24-mile through-run of the Enchantments in the North Cascades, circa late-July. An aggressive shake-off of the race season, to say the least. I could barely walk for three days afterwards. Photo: Sarah Paxson

Inside looking way out! The end (almost) of a 24-mile through-run of the Enchantments in the North Cascades, circa late-July. An aggressive shake-off of the race season, to say the least. I could barely walk for three days afterwards. Photo: Sarah Paxson

It will simply unfold, and all we may do to process it, according to this view, is to look down (or in) from afar and enjoy the ride, calmly interpreting and accepting our role in it. To me it sounds like a fairly passive view on life, just connecting the dots from the scatter, with not much navigating in between.

Before going further, I should establish a context, which involves a process of imagination: reading a map (preferably a paper one), charting a route, and then executing that route. This is without fail one of my favorite things to do, whether it is planning a wild ride across the land, charting out a race season, or, more figuratively, navigating the scatter of life and the “career path.”

Sure, since Hegel’s ideas, several heavy thinkers came up with this thing called existentialism to address this issue. But in my experience, the outside-looking-in versus being-in is still a puzzle that ought to be recognized.

Why let the washed out roads stop you from getting home over the old mountain pass and spending a weekend with friends and family? Ride the bike! Encountering a break in the road on a 3-day backcountry tour through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, about 12-miles outside of Randle, WA. Photo: Spencer Paxson

Why let the washed out roads stop you from getting home over the old mountain pass and spending a weekend with friends and family? Ride the bike! Encountering a break in the road on a 3-day backcountry tour through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, about 12-miles outside of Randle, WA. Photo: Spencer Paxson

It crops up in so many moments of modern life, like blankly guzzling through social media feeds to find your place amongst the day’s trends, which most of the time is like opening the fridge to look at the snacks when you aren’t actually hungry.

It’s like taking a pause from going dot-to-dot along the status quo, maybe thinking about going in between on a more customized path, but never actually going… which akin to looking at that map of back roads and trails, contemplating the whole presentation of paths and topo lines, place names, borders and histories, then rolling it up and setting it back on the shelf from the comfy perch on the proverbial armchair (says the Armchair Philosopher!).

This is certainly a valid way to contemplate the world, but I’m not sure how I feel about it leaving room for charting adventures using said map, for example. Shouldn’t we, who are able to, do more traveling between the dots from time to time, and be so daft as to think we can determine our own destinies?!

Charting a 40-mile trek through the Chugach Mountains in Alaska. Photo: Sarah Paxson

Charting a 40-mile trek through the Chugach Mountains in Alaska. Photo: Sarah Paxson

Anyway, back to Herr. Hegel; I appreciate his idea not because I agree with it (or fully understand it), but because it got me thinking about how I manage my own outside-looking-in versus being in. After all, what does the former say for really experiencing the things that make our own worlds go round?

To hell with being steamrolled by the unfolding of time. How about going between the dots and carving out a bit more of our own time? Outside-looking-in seems like a good reciprocal to keep in mind so that you are spurred to keep doing things while still reflecting on where you’ve come from.

Connecting the dots over and around the contours. Photo: Spencer Paxson

Connecting the dots over and around the contours. Photo: Spencer Paxson

In any case, I digress. This is just a drawn out preamble to sharing a few superficial examples of my adventures between the dots over the last season. These are the types of things that reassure me when I face the angst about navigating the scatter.

Connecting the dots on some fun statistics:

Since January I have spent about 7% of my time training on bicycle, excluding commutes and other non-training rides. That’s about 34,500 minutes, or 625 hours.

At an average power output of 200 watts, that equates to approximately 128 kilowatt hours, or enough to charge my iPhone, MacBook, and Garmin every day for an entire year, plus some extra to run the cable modem for the internet. That is also enough energy to have kept my house running for about half a month.

Based on an average cadence of 83 revolutions per minute, my legs have done 3.1 million circles.

My heart rate during bike training has averaged 133 beats per minute. That’s nearly 5 million heartbeats.

My biggest day on the bike was 102 miles, 14.5 hours, and 29,064 feet of climbing.

Step-by-step goes the bear. Photo: Spencer Paxson

Step-by-step goes the bear. Photo: Spencer Paxson

Stats from a big vision-quest - a capstone effort to honor the effort of an Olympic campaign. Graphic: Spencer Paxson

Stats from a big vision-quest – a capstone effort to honor the effort of an Olympic campaign. Graphic: Spencer Paxson

The outcome of a recent map-charting - 280 miles with dear friends, riding through some amazing parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Randle, Trout Lake, Mt. Adams, Underwood, and Indian Heaven. Graphic: Spencer Paxson, Google Earth Pro

The outcome of a recent map-charting – 280 miles with dear friends, riding through some amazing parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest around Randle, Trout Lake, Mt. Adams, Underwood, and Indian Heaven. Graphic: Spencer Paxson, Google Earth Pro

An aggressive day - testing ground for the Kona Private Jake's gravel grinding capabilities, followed by testing the mental fortitude on the Class 4 scramble to the top of Twin Sister... then riding back for beers and burgers to calm the nerves, of course! Graphic: Spencer Paxson

An aggressive day – testing ground for the Kona Private Jake’s gravel grinding capabilities, followed by testing the mental fortitude on the Class 4 scramble to the top of Twin Sister… then riding back for beers and burgers to calm the nerves, of course! Graphic: Spencer Paxson

Why waste time driving around the lake to the trailhead when you can paddle? A great late-summer evening out across Lake Whatcom to Stewart Mountain. Graphic: Spencer Paxson

Why waste time driving around the lake to the trailhead when you can paddle? A great late-summer evening out across Lake Whatcom to Stewart Mountain. Graphic: Spencer Paxson