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Should You Know Your Eddington Number?

It was Gary, I think, who introduced most of us to the idea of the Eddington Number in our old online forum. In case you missed it then, or have lost the links he found, here's a refresher …

Eddington was an astrophysicist, who defined a few numbers. One of them, for example, is the number of protons in the universe, but the one we like is "the largest integer E for which you have cycled at least E miles on at least E days" - in other words, if you've cycled 50 miles 50 times, then your Eddington Number is 50.

The great thing about the Eddington Number is that it gives you a measure of your lifetime achievement that encourages you to keep trying just a little bit harder. Think about it … Suppose you have an Eddington Number of 50. The 50 rides that contributed to that score won't all have been exactly 50 miles long, but some of them will. Perhaps 45 of them were at least 51 miles long - in that case, to get your Eddington Number to 51, you'll have to ride not just one, but six more rides of at least 51 miles, and then after that, to get to an Eddington Number of 52, you'll have to ride at least 52 miles perhaps 10 times, and so on. As your Eddington Number increases, it becomes an increasingly respectable guide to your level of achievement and an increasingly tantalising target.

Helpfully, there are a couple of online tools that use your Strava data to calculate your Eddington Number and to tell you what you need to do to improve it. You can see how it's increased over the time that you've been using Strava, and you can also look at your year-by-year Eddington Number, in which you reset the counter on 1 January each year. Here's a very friendly and informative version:

For a description of the online tool:

To link the tool to your Strava account and to calculate your Eddington Number:

Is it worth it? At the end of this year's Burgess Hill Bike Ride, I realised that the distance I'd ridden would be within a couple of miles of my current Eddington Number, so I deliberately went slightly out of my way on the ride home in order to make it count towards the next step up (and then had to ride to the end of our road and back when I realised that I'd underestimated my target because I'd been riding in km and converting to miles in my head). It's either motivating or madness-inducing, depending on your point of view. I won't say what Bernadina thinks.

So, who's the leading Nomad for lifetime or annual Eddington Number, and who wants to set up a challenge to see who can increase their lifetime number the most during a season?

I think a leaderboard and a most improved challenge (or prize) is a fantastic idea Ashley.

Let’s start the ball rolling for 2018....
My 2018 Eddington number is 25.
My all time Eddington number is currently 66. Both in miles.

The veloviewer graph makes it look like a lot of hard work to improve this - I need ‘just’ another 75 century rides to push it up to 100!!

Gary - Hahaha … Well, that's the beauty of it - you see your position as 75 rides short of a century of centuries; I see mine as 3 rides short of 50. It perfectly adjusts to the amount of pain you believe you deserve.

At this stage of the year, the annual E-numbers don't mean much more than the number of times you've been on the bike, but as we get into the second half of the year, we'll start to see who's been out more than once a week and has ridden a consistently high mileage each time. My number for 2018 is 20 so far, for instance, which sounds pretty close to yours, but it probably won't go above 30 for the year, whereas yours should keep going ...

Eddington Numbers for me:

2018 - 34

All time - 79

Still need 63 to reach 100....

For what it's worth mine are:

2018 : 40
All time : 54

I need 6 more days of 55 to get to 55 and 11 at 56 to get to 56.

Will this inspire me to ride a few more miles to achieve this? Probably not in my case as I use the monthly Strava Distance Challenges (only achieved once!) and the yearly target I enter into Strava.

I guess the most interesting part to me is the year by year to see the progression and for that reason I will check back every few months or so.

Head over to Swinny and link it to your Strava account. Use this link...