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  • Writer's pictureStars and Spokes

Miles vs Kilometres: The Great Debate

A joint effort this month, as we tackle this pivotal topic - how do you measure your ride? Pascal (who is right) puts forward the case for miles, Dan (who is wrong) then makes the case for KMs.

And you have to pick one, because the maths of converting from one to another are basically impossible.

Roads can be beautiful, but should they be measured in miles or kilometres? Discuss.

And so here we go.

Miles. Because that’s just how we do things in the UK! Do I really need to go on...? Check out all the road signs around the UK, there is your answer. Why would you measure your progress in a unit that is at odds with all the distance information that comes into your eyes when you are cycling your push bike around the roads of Britain?

Road signs, always in MILES (don't cycle on motorways kids!)

I am primarily a runner who rides his bike a bit. All runners know that distances are measured in miles, and that running pace is measured in minutes per mile. How long is a marathon? It’s 26.2 miles thanks! What is that in KM? Nobody knows, and the maths are so difficult that nobody has ever converted the figure – it’s probably something like 200 KM, who knows (or cares)!!

So, when getting on a bike, why would anyone suddenly switch to a whole new system of measurement. It is madness and that’s why I am correct.

I will close my case with an analogy. Does anybody go out shopping in the UK with a fistful of US Dollars, look at all the prices in the shops and then convert the amount from Pounds into US Dollars for payment. No, because that would be a terrible waste of time and nobody knows how much a Dollar is actually worth. Everybody knows what a Pound is worth. It is equivalent to one item in Poundland or about a quarter of a cup of coffee when bought in London.

Dan only measures in KMs because then it sounds like he has ridden further. Fact.

KMs. It is a well-recognised fact of life that push bikes are global machines, ridden by humans all around the world. The majority of cyclists around the world measure their rides in KMs. The Tour de France stages aren’t measured in miles, because global citizens have no idea how far a mile is!

The Tour de France is measured in KMs....

In fact, does anyone? It probably equates to 6 fathoms, 14 furlongs or a brace of cables – all fine examples of other pointless measurements that we still use in the UK. If you weighed a mile, it would probably weigh 27 stones, which is yet another unit that only Brits use…And even then, only Brits aged over 50 yrs old.

Be a global citizen, think beyond this island of ours, use KMs.

Pascal is only complaining because he lacks the basic arithmetic skills to convert between the two units. We have actually reached a stalemate in our route planning; I’ve (clearly) used KMs for the legs that I’ve planned, and he’s (incorrectly) used miles for all of his. When we look at one another’s route legs, it’s like trying to read a foreign language!

Plus, it does sound like you’ve ridden further when you give the figure in KMs…

Summary. As is often the case, we don’t really have a valid summary to put here I'm afraid. Regular readers will be used to this classically underwhelming end to our blogs.

The only solution is for us both to get really good at multiplying or dividing by 1.61 (the conversion between KMs and miles) – there is no other way to solve this, as far as we can see.

Time to get the calculators out!

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