Nope. That’s it. No punchline. Just tired legs.
So, after reading (and reviewing!) the Big Book of Cycling last month I decided I wanted to become a more dedicated cycling commuter. When our culture team announced that they were introducing a new program called “Earn Your Kicks,” where you could earn some sweet Runkeeper swag for setting a completing lofty goals, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. So I looked through my history, found out that my best month yet was just over 150 miles, and decided to double it! It has been tiring, challenging, enlightening, and most of all fun! So, what have I learned in my month on a bike?
1. Always wear your helmet
Always, always, always, always, always wear your helmet. ALWAYS. It doesn’t matter if you are going on a 100 mile trek or a half mile to the store. You never know what is going to happen. On day 3 of my challenge, (DAY 3!) I witnessed my first major crash on a bike. It was enough to freak me out a bit, and it was pretty bad, but it would have been 10 times worse if she wasn’t wearing a helmet. Let’s protect our noggins people! (Always wear your helmet!)
2. Respect your surroundings at all times
Be aware of everything around you. You never know when that squirrel is going to drop on your head. Or when those pedestrians are going are going to make an impromptu u-turn directly in front of you. Or when that cyclist in front of you is going to stop short without looking. Also, you may think those geese blocking the entire bike path will see you and move out of the way so they don’t get hit. Uh, no. Seriously. Geese are jerks.
I see you geese…
3. It is OK to slow down
I used to try to get a PR every day. To paraphrase a coworker, “You don’t have to beat yesterday’s time every day.”
If there is one thing I have learned from running, it is that if you are going to go a lot further than you usually do, and you don’t adjust your speed accordingly, you’re gonna have a bad time…
4. You’ve got to get creative
Early on in the challenge I realized that, although my ride in was beautiful, if I was doing the exact same thing twice a day every day, it was going to get boring awful quick. Also, I didn’t have much wiggle room in terms of actually hitting my goal. I was going to have to get a little creative to not only hit my goal, but to also keep it interesting. By exploring some different routes and throwing in some longer commutes I got to keep it fresh and also give myself some padding.
5. Goals are easier to accomplish with other people
When setting this goal, I made it a point to recruit other people to join me in my quest. All in all we had a total of four people going for 300 September miles, and none of us had ever gotten more than 160. We made it a mini competition on top of the larger challenge and pushed/encouraged/cheered each other on for the whole month.
Having that extra support and pressure, and knowing that other people were doing the same thing I was made a huge difference in getting me on that bike every morning. In the end we all made it to our goal and that support helped all of us get there.
6. If you are on a bike, learn (and use) your hand signals
Knowing your hand signals is important because it helps us make sure I don’t crash into you! We only have each other out there, so let’s do the best to not take each other out.
Important ones to know:
- Left arm out—Left turn
- Left arm bent up or Right arm out—Right turn
- Arm down, palm back—Slowing down/stopping
- Pointing down—Watch out for that tree branch!
7. The more you do something, the better/easier it will be
It may be a cliche, but it is actually true! After the first week in, I was definitely feeling the effects, and getting a little nervous about actually finishing. By the time week 4 rolled around I felt much stronger on the bike and had much less fatigue, while tracking the most miles in a single week ever. I also felt a lot more comfortable on my bike than ever before. After this month I feel much better equipped to handle any situation while out on the road.
8. I now understand why some motorists despise cyclists
Seriously, I’m on a bike and I don’t like some of us. Specifically, I’m looking at you, cool guy going down the center of a crowded bike path with no hands. Nice job! Nope, that’s unsafe. Also, not cool…
9. Have fun!
About halfway through the challenge, I began to realize that I was looking forward to my daily commute. Whereas in the past I would look for excuses to not ride in (it’s too cold, it’s too hot, I’m tired!), now it was actually a way for me to get out, get some fresh air, and get some me time. As the riding got easier, the commute became more fun, and that made it that much easier to hit my goal.
If you can find the fun parts to a goal, you will be well on the way to getting there.
So that’s it, and congrats to the other three Runkeeper folks who hit 300 miles too! I had a lot of fun, learned a lot and look forward to my next challenge! Next up, 500?
Total Distance: 301.1 miles
Total Activities: 39
Time Spent: 21 hours, 8 minutes, 42 seconds
Calories Burned: 17,148
Average Pace: 4:17 min/mi
Total Elevation: 18,033 ft
Total Commutes Biked: 30
Money Saved: 30*$3.65 = $109.5