It was long, and most definitely a challenge, but we’ve completed the 30 Days of Biking Challenge! Here are six things the challenge taught me:
1. A bike ride of any length can be cleansing for the soul.
Even after working all day and being super tired, hopping on my bike for a ride around the park usually led to two laps around the park… or ten miles on the river front trail… or even a change of plans and a trip to Lunch Loop. Riding my bike always makes me feel better. Even when I don’t think I have the energy for a ride, I always come back smiling and feeling way better than I did before the ride.
2. Biking for 30 days straight means more opportunities for adventure and exploration! When you have to find time to ride every day, you tend to try new things. I have tried things I’d never tried before on my mountain bike, like biking on my lunch break. I discovered that, in the spring and fall, lunch rides are a great way to get in a good 45-minute workout during the week.
I also met new people by biking with other fellow Singletracks writers and their families: cycling8r and delphinide! It was great to get a chance to hang out with new friends, while also putting in a few days and miles on my bike.
3. Challenges are called “challenges” for a reason.
I’ve biked home from work on days when the wind was blowing 30 mph. I’ve biked in the rain with raindrops dripping off my coat and down my shorts the whole time. I’ve biked on days when biking was the last thing I really felt like doing. Each time I said to myself, “If challenges were easy, everyone would do them!”
4. I can bike in traffic.
It’s rained here quite a bit during the challenge, and because of that I’ve had to utilize Frankie the cross bike more than I thought I would. Tired of riding around the block, and tired of my work route, I mustered the courage to join the traffic on Grand Ave to reach the Riverfront trail by the quickest route. Grand is a 4-lane road and it was about 5:30pm when I was on it. Traffic was heavy. I discovered, though, that I only had to be in the traffic through one intersection. At the next light I hopped in the bike lane and used the bike/pedestrian paths to cross two bridges over the Colorado river and reach the Riverfront Trail unscathed.
My best advice in situations where traffic is heavy and you’ve got lots of lights to deal with and no bike path: Just get out there. Get right behind a car and just go. You’re highly visible and, honestly, I think a lot of times people are more comfortable with a cyclist in front of them than beside them.
5. A lighter pack makes all the difference!
I’ve written before about pack weight. It’s amazing how much it can affect your ride. Lately, on short rides (anything less than 2 hours) I’ve been using a smaller Camelbak pack. The hydration bladder holds 50 oz. It has 2 very small zip pockets and one stuff pocket. I can fit my phone, my bike tools (though I didn’t have my pump or a spare tube with me… since I run tubeless tires it’s not usually an issue), my windbreaker and a snack in the pack. But it feels so much lighter!
Using this pack, I found myself climbing up a difficult hill at Lunch Loop (the Holy Cross hill) and up Pet Y Kes with much less effort. I also climbed Rustler’s and Mary’s hills, and didn’t feel as winded as usual. There will be times, especially when it gets hotter, when I”ll need more water. Right now, though, this little pack is working out perfectly. If you can go with a minimalist pack, do it!
6. Riding every day makes you a better rider overall.
I’ve ridden harder features than ever before in the past few weeks. I honestly believe this is due in part to the fact that I’ve been on a bike every single day for the past 30 days. I am so comfortable on my bike that features seem more rideable, or I seem more confident. My legs seem stronger, and I seem to be more focused on features and how to ride them. I plan to stay on my bike as many days as possible to continue this forward momentum!
Bonus: Even after all this riding, biking is still fun, and I’m still learning with every ride. Isn’t that what it’s all about? If after 30 days straight of doing something, you can still say you love it? I still love my bikes, my local trails, and getting out there as much as possible!
Now… can I extend this to 60 days?!
Your Turn: What have you learned from the 30 Days of Biking Challenge?