Get Out! The power of pedaling
30 Days of Biking Challenge offers extra incentive to get out and bike
Two years ago, I participated in and wrote about the April 30 Days of Biking Challenge. The challenge is social-media based, though you can “pledge” to do it on 30daysofbiking.com.
The rules are simple: get on your bike every day. It doesn’t matter how far you ride, though I do tell myself I have to go at least a mile, unless it’s raining. There’s no prize for finishing, except being able to say you did.
Last year I skipped it. This year after seeing almost daily tweets in March reminding people to sign up, I decided to try it again. I’m able to bring my bike to work with me every day now and was already biking more at lunch, so I figured, why not? The last time I did this challenge I lost 3 pounds; I’d love to repeat that!
As I write this I’ve just completed day 20 of my 30 days. I’ve made it through rainy days and windy ones and I feel confident I’ll succeed and complete the challenge this year. Though I’ve still got 10 days to go, I feel like I’ve learned much so far this April. Here, in no particular order, are seven things this year’s 30 days of biking challenge has taught me:
1. The trails COPMOBA, the BLM, and a host of other volunteers built last year at Lunch Loop are perfect for lunchtime rides. I don’t always want a super-technical ride on my lunch break, and with the Bookends and Three Sisters trails, I can avoid that. These trails are fast and fun and a ride using Nor’Easter, Time Machine, Leftover Lane and Curt’s makes the perfect lunchtime route.
2. The Lunch Loop parking lot is busy at 11:30 on a weekday. Not busy like it is on the weekends, but there are usually plenty of cars there. Even so, I rarely run into more than a handful of people on my lunchtime rides. It’s clear that the many spurs and short trails here spread the hikers and bikers out well! The new parking area and picnic tables that will hopefully come with the Monument Road trail project will be a nice addition, too.
3. I love the Riverfront Trail. On days when I need a break from mountain biking, I often bike the Riverfront Trail at lunch. A loop including Connected Lakes takes about an hour and I can leave right from the Sentinel’s parking lot. I see so many people enjoying this trail every time I’m on it. There are seniors biking, kids on scooters, people jogging and walking, and others just sitting and watching the birds. This is a popular trail and Fruita’s expansion of it to Loma is going to encourage even more people to use it. As my dad said after biking it himself for the first time: “That trail is a true testament to this community.”
4. Biking every day makes me hungry. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 35 minute mountain bike ride or an hour-long Riverfront Trail ride, biking definitely increases my appetite. I’ve had to start keeping more fruit and string cheese on hand, and my desk drawer is probably attracting mice.
5. Not every ride has to be a marathon. I had a discussion early on with a friend who has done the 30 days of biking challenge twice. Both times he ended up with overuse injuries and he’s become an advocate now of just moving every day instead of doing a 30-day challenge. While I agree that moving every day is important, I think, if done correctly, 30 day challenges can be just that: challenging. I try to vary my rides by type and length to make sure I stay injury-free. Some days a lap around Sherwood Park or a ride downtown for lunch counts.
One day 3 miles on the exercise bike downstairs in the Sentinel’s mini-gym counted. So far, the longest ride I’ve done has been 14 miles. The shortest was .3 on a rainy Saturday. There are no rules about how long you have to bike each day. Just that you get on the bike!
6. Attitude is everything. If I set out on a bike ride planning to ride a particular section of trail without putting a foot down, or planning to get a new personal record, I usually do. If I set out thinking about how tired I am, or that it’s cold, I don’t enjoy myself as much. You set the tone for yourself every day. Whether it’s with a bike ride, work, or a family outing, your attitude and your thoughts can make the difference between a great day and an awful one (or, in my case, between a great ride and an awful one). After finishing a ride though, no matter what kind of attitude I started with, I always feel better!
7. Finally, I learned that I have a pretty strong support system. Between friends who biked with me at lunch, my boyfriend biking with me every weekend, and all of my friends who “liked” my daily posts on Facebook, Strava, and Twitter about biking, I never lacked for support.
Will I try the 30 days of biking challenge again next year? Sure! Will I continue biking every day once this is over? Probably not. It’ll be nice to bike when I want to and spend some other lunch breaks strength training or actually, you know, eating lunch.
If you’re still looking for a challenge, June is Bike to Work Month. Use it as a time to get out and get on your bike. If you need maps or riding ideas, check out the 2016 edition of RIDE at http://www.gjsentinel.com/magazines.