Yes there may be better estimates at some point - and Nate has indicated he’s interested in implementing an option to better estimate by calculating the effective distance traveled based on the power output. I’ve posted code on how to do this, but if you’d like to know an accurate estimate of your distance is to do the following:
- Take your average power for your ride
- Plug it in on the page below where it says " If you apply _____watts of power, you will ride at velocity ____ mph ."
If you really want to fiddle you weight and the bike’s weight you can (a 50 pound weight change will make less than a 0.5 MPH change typically at 200 watts since here we’re assuming a flat course.)
This will get you a good estimate of how far you would have traveled on a flat course with no wind - I did some comparisons between just using the average power vs calculating everything second by second for a interval heavy ride (Gendarme) and the difference was about 1% vs just using the average power.
As for why people might care to know an accurate distance - well for me, I’m participating in a team virtual multisport “race” around the globe (going a circumpolar route a little over 30,000 miles). The race lets you use indoor ride miles. For the spirit of the event I would like to have realistic distances - not just throwing it in the 53x11 and magically do 34 MPH at 90 RPM. There’s no prize money, but it’s nice knowing that collectively my team (made up of extended family members) has traveled 5,300 miles in the past few months. Many of those miles done running / walking etc, with some trainer miles contributing as well.
Race link: https://runsignup.com/Race/CHH/AnywhereAnyPlace/CircumpolarRaceAroundtheWorld
Or another way to think about it - you’re not using the “mileage” as something you train by, but as motivation to do your rides and perhaps a few extra ones…that motivation is what can make you faster.