Something kinda big just recently happened, and I forgot to blog about it. What with that fellow blogger guy coming to town and my big birthday ride (which I’ll get to another time, I reckon), I sort of overlooked a major milestone: two years of riding every single day! That’s somewhere upwards of 12,000 miles. By now, the mileage goals I’ve set and met are almost like literal mileposts on a highway. I pass them by, and they’re in the rearview mirror. Not forgotten, but I’ve seen them and moved on. I suppose that’s what we do here at A Dude Abikes. We keep on bikin’. (And walkin’ and doin’ yoga, and, well that’s mostly it for exercise.) Writing about my journey makes it more real somehow. And 731 days of riding is very real, rest assured. Hmm, some rest would be in order by now, you’d think. And if you did, you’d’ve thunk correctly. But there’s no rest for the weary. So on we go. How I got from I to we, I/we don’t know. Let’s go to the next paragraph, shall we?
At some point a habit becomes a routine, a routine becomes part of your lifestyle, and that lifestyle becomes a part of you and your identity. James Clear writes in depth about this in his newsletters, blog, and book Atomic Habits. I finished reading it and thought I might review it, but it’s fading from memory. I’m not sure I need to, because I’ve basically figured out a way to do a few things repeatedly. Now they’re almost like on autopilot. Well, that’s not exactly true, since they do take effort. But less effort than they used to. And nowadays, to not do them seems anathema. If you don’t know that word, look it up.
Streak used to mean run naked in public, and if you could do it on national television across a professional sports team broadcast, even better. It could also mean something with paints or colors, like put a streak of blue in your hair. Or dirty windows. In my case, it’s repeating a habit every day for a long time. The question though, is “Why?” I’m not sure, but I know stopping will be hard. I’ve said before it will be disappointing, but also something of a relief. When I missed a walk or two early on a few years back (no misses lately), I wasn’t too bummed because I was still having to force it, and I more than made up for it. With a recent salad skipping day, I was just really preoccupied and it slipped my mind. So I just started again the next day. Life went on.
Regular exercise is better than a streak. More realistic and practical. That is, unless you’re like me and fear you’re not going to continue at all unless you make yourself do it daily. That’s a kind of all or nothing thinking, and a friend adopted that. He went for something like 257 walks in as many days, then got buy traveling and just lost interest. He never got back out there (so far). Perfect is the enemy of good. Recently he bought a punching bag and a bunch of sand bags for the base. Over a month later, he still hasn’t set it up. I guessed why: the sand bags are too heavy to carry. I laughed real hard at that one.
But like Clear says, you want to make a habit sticky — obvious, attractive, easy. The best thing I ever did to start all of this was to leave my yoga mat out on the floor in plain sight. He also says to focus on the process, not the end result or goal. That will take care of itself. There is that part of habits when it becomes part of one’s identity: I just like thinking of myself as a 100-mile per week kind of guy. Even if it takes me 10 hours and I don’t go up many hills, I git ‘er done. But I have to put in the work; there’s no way around it. That’s the simple, not easy part. Some of you Cyclists with a capital E (for Ego) may be thinking, “Dude, that’s real slow, and fathlete is not a word.” In the immortal wisdom of one Ms. Taylor Swift: “Haters gonna hate. Shake it off.”
So yeah, I biked every single effing day for two years. Go ahead and check my Strava activities if you don’t believe me. (And if you’re on Strava, why aren’t you following me there already?) So far, there’s no reason not to continue… yet. At least not a real good persuasive one. To do a 15- or 20-mile ride in a day is not too hard, as long as I have the time. To do them every day for a week gets more challenging. And then just never stopping, although I sometimes went down to five miles on occasion, but also up into the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s at other times. Along with the other activities, it could add up to four to six hours in a day. I’m lucky to not have had to work for about two-thirds of that time. That’s always the catch, and the reality is catching up to me. A Dude’s gotta eat, and enjoys doing so, and is fortunate that he’s able to ingest comestibles, unlike many poor, hungry, malnourished, food insecure, famished people. A dose of reality is always good.
This is what I wrote in the notes of the ride on that 731st day in Strava:
Began 10/11/2019, so with 2020 being a Leap Year, this ride makes it 731 days. IN. A. ROW. Or, 63,158,400 seconds, 1,052,640 minutes, 17,544 hours, 731 days, 104 weeks and 3 days, 200.27% of a common year (365 days). As for how far I rode, I did 5,005 miles in 2019, 6,666.66 miles in 2020, and 4,318 miles so far in 2021. So about 12,100 miles. Not bad. Pretty good, actually.
What’s probably gotten me so tired, aside from not enough sleep, is I think the incredible amount of mental effort, discipline, dedication, and so on that I have expended to make this happen. Those things take a toll on body, heart, and soul. A nap is de rigeur most of the time. Quite often other things slide by, like cleaning. Many of my bike efforts fall short because of the daily grind being so, you know, deflating. I’m not doing fast, hilly rides, or vigorous yoga, nor have I graduated from walking to jogging or running. And that’s okay. A younger, quicker, smarter dude than I would hang it all up for a month then start lifting weights, swimming, taking spin classes, seriously eating a ton more of vegetables, giving up sugar, and probably eschewing TV and movies in the process. In other words, all the fun, legal things that make life tolerable. So that’s not likely. I’m no quitter.
After all, It’s Libra time, and Librans seek balance. I don’t put much stock in the planets affecting us — we have some amount of free will here in The Matrix. I’d be the first to admit I am a work in progress and have a long way to go. But still, I ride. To go places, see things, and meet people. Sometimes they bike with me. Most times, I’m out there solo, on my own, and that’s okay, most of the time. Legs and heart pumping, head down, eyes up, breathing in, breathing out. And maybe it’s as simple as all that: the experience is new every time, but it’s also somewhat the same. Putting on the gear, getting the pedals ticking over, navigating the streets. I may see a brilliant sunset spilling through the trees, a spider’s nest on the path, a coyote staring at me, hear a fellow rider ringing their bell back at me, or smell the damp dankness of the trees and the earth. Hopefully you can access nature by bike or foot, too. Because all of that is really good stuff which you’ll miss if you’re stuck in a coffin on wheels.
Someday I’ll take a break. But not today, no. Not today. Today I’ll ride my bicycle, and get some kind of meaning, awareness, joke, idea, or just something less definable out of it. Or maybe not, As the old Far Eastern adage about enlightenment in the Tao Te Ching, attributed to Lao Tsu goes, “Those who speak don’t know, and those who know doesn’t speak.” If you bike a lot like me, maybe you can relate, if not, maybe you don’t, but that’s ok — it’s not for everyone. But take it from A Dude, if I may quote myself: “I may make it look easy, but it sure as heck ain’t. even if it’s simle” And that’s OK. Do what works for you. Until it doesn’t, then do something else. Right now, I’m gonna hit the sack. And be thankful that I lived to bike another day. For now, that’s plenty good enough for me.
So yeah, that two years just happened. I’ll end with this oldy but goody from another Larry, Larry the Cable Guy: “Git ‘er done.“
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