For the past nine months or so, I have been cycling to work and back five days a week (with exceptions for injury, holiday, etc) with a minimum daily distance of around 8.5 miles.
I will usually take the shortest route on the way to work which on most days is out of necessity. Living in a town now, with a quite dense network of roads and a number of bridleways and footpaths along ridable farm tracks, there's plenty of scope for route variation depending on how much additional distance I might want to ride (and how muddy the ground is).
I have been training for the past three weeks for the Brighton Big Dog, a 6 hour mountain bike race held in the start of August. When I say training I mean intentionally setting out to achieve a particular target each week, rather than just cycling when I feel like it.
After the first week with a distance of 110 miles I expected to be improving on that in the following weeks. However, the reality of what I actually have achieved proves that goal to be a little unrealistic at this point. In the second week I only doubled my distance to an estimated 85 miles (though I had Friday off and needed to be reasonably alert for the weekend). For the third week, just passed, my distance estimate is back up to around the 100 mile mark.
I was back on the early shift this week just passed, with my first extended ride on Wednesday, at 16.5 miles incorporating various elements from two or more usual routes, and looping back past my workplace again before heading home. It was an enjoyable ride other than a puncture, and I even explored a couple of areas I had long been curious about (rather than just whizzing past them).
The following day I rode to Fowlmead and did two laps of the MTB course there. It was an overcast day, but still warm, but by the time I was heading back around 1700 it was getting quite cool. On my second lap of Fowlmead I was really feeling tired, and the way back was grim, with a head wind, facing busy oncoming traffic following the cycle path through the industrial grot of the old power station site at Richborough, and what used to be Pfizers, (now 'Discovery Park'). Once at Manston and having long grown sick of traffic (I hate cycling in busy traffic, especially when exhausted. I don't want to be seen in that miserable state) I went off road again, still into the wind, but at least with some peace away from the evils of the rush hour traffic to and from Westwood Cross.
I don't really know much about how professional cyclists train, and I'm obviously not aiming to take it that seriously, but sometimes wonder how well I'm doing as I frequently find myself feeling exhausted by the weekend and all I want to do is relax and chill out and any attempts to get me doing otherwise are met with resistance and grumpiness.
Because of that my thinking now is to be content with an average 100 miles per week and just try to maintain that for a week or two and see how it goes. I think it probably better to achieve consistency with distance each week rather than mostly shorter distances which the occasional peak distance. To do this I need to ride even when I don't feel like it, but only if I have not yet achieved my weekly distance goal.
More sleep might help.
Reminder to self: five weeks to go!