My recent year-end recap, 5,633 Miles in 2019: 5,006 Biking, 627 Walking — My Longest Year Yet!, did not completely capture the immense efforts I put out to reach that biking goal. I don’t say that to brag; it’s just the fact. I began back on October 11th and up to January 8th, I rode for three months, biking every single day. I pedaled on average 22 miles per day. I can assure that is a lot of work, but if I can do it, it’s doable for many people. (For confirmation, check out my Training Log on Strava.) For more numbers and what they mean, do keep on keepin’ on. That’s what I did, and you can, too.
There is no try. Do or do not.Yoda, Star Wars
The main thing to know about what it’s like to bike 90 days in a row without a real rest day is that it’s tiring. I don’t mean just physically, but mentally and emotionally, too. Exhausting, actually! To quote fictional movie super spy Austin Powers taking photographs, “I’m spent!” I didn’t set off to achieve this goal but at some point it occurred to me to ask, How long can I keep this streak going? And I was going for a bigger goal. When it seemed possible, I found ways to get on the bike for those 90 days.
Here in list form are what I find to be some interesting data points:
- Of the 90 days, 8 were under 10 miles
- 14 days were over 30 miles
- 2 rides were over 50 miles
- Most days were broken up into smaller rides, but many weren’t
- It took 202 hours (8 whole days) or 2 hours 15 minutes biking daily
- Elevation gain was 48,113 feet, or just over 9 miles going uphill
- I kept up yoga, walking and writing 30′ or more each of those days
(The days where it appears I did no walk [XT +], I walked after midnight.)
Being car-free means I have to bike or bus, get rides or borrow a car. It’s interesting to note that when I did happen to be loaned a car to go out of town over the holidays, there were days I just didn’t allow myself to drive it even though I wanted to. I think that’s the difference between a casual bicyclist and exerciser and someone like me with goals. If you have a car, you’ll use it because it’s way, Way, WAY easier and convenient. But if you have goals, you have to be able to just say no to being lazy. It’s not simply will power or dedication, it’s something more than that. It’s being able to override your negative thoughts that say “I can’t” or “I don’t wanna.”
This discipline and dedication includes finding ways to keep going on days when you’re tired or not feeling well, it’s bad weather, you have a flat tire or are just very busy. Some of those I addressed in my 5,633 post. I’m not saying it’s always wise or that I’m a better person for accomplishing my goal; plenty of people arrived at my number faster and many doubled it or more. Those people are at different levels,and that’s fine. I just choose to push myself and see what happens. A possible downside is that not letting my muscles truly rest and recuperate could be holding me back from performing better. I’ve written about the importance of rest days here and here. It’s probably time I take my own advice and rest, and I’ve dialed back from 150+ mile weeks.
I’d like to think that some mental toughness has come out of this suffering. And I don’t use that word lightly. There were saddle sores, flat tires in the cold, wind that felt like it blew right through me and might knock me over, close calls with the always perilous traffic, cedar-fever induced sinus infection, assorted aches and pains, tight muscles that a massage therapist couldn’t fully alleviate, and a lot more. There was also time away from family and friends, who were understanding. The point is there are obstacles and trade-offs.
You miss every shot you don’t take.-hockey legend Wayne Gretsky
If I can bike almost 2,000 miles in 90 days — that’s 2/3 of the way across the United States, by the way — what else can I do? A job I dislike? Eat more vegetables and less sugar? Track my calories? Join a gym? Work my ass off learning how to become a freelance writer and then actually doing it and making money? Keep a gratitude journal? Floss? Meditate five minutes before or after yoga? (The last three I am doing.) We shall see. What about you?
The sky’s the limit, within the boundaries of practical considerations. Do your best and in the end, that’s all you can do. But you might surprise yourself and move the needle on what your best is. I sure did. And that line was very, very heavy, but somehow I managed. That’s worth a toot of my own horn, because no one else is tooting it. So I say go for it, and if an older, slow, fathlete like A Dude Abikes has helped inspire you, that’s great. But it’s up to you if you want to go for a goal like mine. Of course you’ll choose your own goals that work for you. I’m pulling for you!
What challenging activity have you done every day for 90 days that seemed impossible to do? Or that you want to try? Tell me about it in the comments.
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