Thursday, January 1, 2015

Seven-Day Challenges

I did much soul-searching last fall fall, realizing that the greatest impediment to my riding was the challenge of getting out the bike, in particular on a day when it looked unpleasant outside.  I've been pleased to find that something as trivial as a <2-mile daily commute (each way, to be fair!) has made tying on the cycling shoes, putting on the helmet, rolling up the pant-leg, and getting outside something near to second nature.  No claim to high mileage in the last three months of 2014, but I am certain it is my densest period of cycling in terms of rides taken -- in probably 37 years of riding bike.

Lesson from 2014:  daily riding is good.  Not riding because "it's not far enough to be worth the trouble" is counterproductive.

We're not ones to set high bars here at HBC.  Riding to beat people and to prove something is both annoying and stressful.  But one wonders if there is not a way to achieve a mutually supportive goal-setting project.  I propose a series of seven-day challenges.

Challenge 1:  ride each day, outdoors, for seven consecutive days, sometime in the month of January.  "Ride"=30 minutes out on your bike.  If you are commuting through town, that may be 5-6 miles.  If you are out for a Saturday morning hard ride, that may be 11 miles.  Of course, you can go longer, but you cannot take the day off and make up for it on day 2 (or vice-versa).  The goal is not to ride hooka miles or to climb thousands of feet or to win seven races; the goal is to ride your bike for seven days, including those days when you just don't feel like riding.

Report in the comments on your challenge.  Did you make it?  Did you learn anything from it?  Are you interested in the February challenge?  Any ideas for the February challenge?

Future months' challenges: February, March, on to December will, needless to say, build on this January challenge.  Maybe February ramps the time per day to one hour.  By June I hope we can shoot for something like seven x 50 miles -- but we will see when we get there.


sam said...

I'm a fan of this idea. Challenge accepted.

Unknown said...

For several years (until recently), I had a bike commute of 40-50 minutes each way, come rain or shine. I think it helped me on some level, but at the end of the day, I just enjoyed the quiet time.

I'm still toying with the idea of the 100k-200k-300k-400k-600k week toward the end of May.

sam said...

Hit my seventh day today.

I'm not going to claim that's anything heroic. After all Steve Abraham just did his 12th day, for 2,198 miles. That's like 3 1200Ks back to back to back, for anyone keeping score.

Anyway, it was nevertheless an interesting experience. Kudos to Max for suggesting it. A couple things occurred to me during the week.

First, while I've often felt like I've been riding every day, the reality is probably not so rosy. It's surprisingly hard to not have an off day.

Last week I had two. The first was Saturday. I planned to ride, I had my bike with me, but man I was just not feeling it. After spending three hours in the rain cutting up trees that had fallen over the neighbor's driveway all I wanted to do was go take a nap. If not for this challenge i would have. As it was, I got on the bike anyway, and did a 45-minute ride. It felt horrible. Slow, ponderous, super wet. In 45 minutes I covered a mere 11 miles. But I got 'er done.

Today was the final day. I left for work in a rush. I had a busy day and didn't end up getting out for a ride over lunch. With an hour to go before a 4:00 meeting I rushed out to the car to get changed for a quick 30 minute ride. It turns out I'd forgotten both my bike shorts and my helmet. Fortunately I had a pair of tights in the car, but let's just say.... my head wasn't the only thing going commando. I did an easy 9 miler to hit my 30 minutes, and made it to my meeting just in time.

And I suspect that these were exactly what Max had in mind when suggesting this challenge. It was interesting to observe that I found 7 contiguous short days to be a lot more mentally and physically challenging than 1 or 2 long days. Unless you really plan ahead, it's tough to make biking every day happen unless you can just bake it into your routine by riding to work, riding to the store, etc...

But, again thanks to the challenge, I did hit my weekly goal of 100 miles. I got out riding on some truly miserable days, but also had some enjoyable, if wet, rides. I'm not sure my career would survive taking an hour or two out of every work days forever, but nobody seems to have noticed my absences too much either.

Thanks for the challenge!

Max said...

Somehow I missed the comment! Nicely done. Intrigued that:

1. Possible to cram in a ride that is better than no ride, despite bad weather, too much else going on -- what have you.

2. You have the same reaction I am having: it is a bear to fit it in every day.

My experience so far:

I have two near misses and a third or fourth good starts, but have not yet completed. On work days it is easy because I just commute and tag on some extra loops here or there, or ride by the brewpub on the way home. But each week it gets to Friday or so, no commute required, and I miss getting out. The first time we were slammed with a snowstorm on January 6. This week it was a slush-and-wind-storm Friday and Saturday. Bad enough to cancel the 100K planned for Saturday, so I'm not the only chicken.

It is now January 25. If I start today, I can just fit it in, finishing next Saturday. Don't hold your breath, but I will follow up with a report when I do!