Yesterday was a milestone day for me. It was my 600th straight day on the bike without a miss. I’ve cycled five miles or more every day since December, 2016. I’ve covered a lot of ground over these 600 days…20,195 miles to be exact. That’s a little over 33 miles per day. Not bad for an old man.
The streak was just a crazy thought back in early 2017. I’d ridden more miles than I thought possible the previous year and didn’t want to fall into the trap where I felt like I constantly had to ride more so I changed my focus instead. Why not just try to ride five miles or more every single day for the whole year? At the time, I thought it would be fun to see if I could stick with it for 365 days.
I almost didn’t. Eight days in we were still living in Ogden Utah and I woke up to eight inches of wet, slippery snow. It was nothing like the Utah powder the ski people love to brag about. It was more like wet cement. I headed out and couldn’t get any traction at all. I didn’t know how I was going to get five miles in that day. I was almost ready to give up and then a snowplow came by. I stuck to plowed streets and managed to cover seven miles. This was my shortest day…so far at least.
When I was starting out, I had people tell me that I couldn’t ride every day. They told me I’d need to take days off to rest, probably because I’m not as young as I used to be. I don’t hear that sort of thing any more.
So how does an old guy pull this off? Well, I think part of it is luck. I’ve been relatively healthy over this period. But maybe I’m healthy because I ride everyday. There’s also the challenge of finding a bike when you’re traveling but even that’s not as difficult as it used to be. I’ve used bikeshare on several business trips. It’s not ideal, but we’re only talking about thirty minutes so it works.
I think that another reason this has worked is that I don’t take it too seriously. I often go long and hard, but if I feel like backing off that’s what I do. Some days I ride shorter or slower. I’m not training for glory, so it doesn’t really matter. I’m cycling because I enjoy cycling and how it makes me feel. When the day eventually comes that I don’t feel like heading out, I won’t and that will be that. The streak will end and that will be fine. I have no idea when that day will be. It might be tomorrow. It might be sometime later. I suspect that whenever it happens a new streak will start the next day.
The streak has changed me and how I view cycling. Now it’s no big deal to go out and ride five miles. This is true no matter what the weather. I can do it in about 20 minutes. That’s important, because you get most of the benefits from cycling in the early miles. I still think five miles is the magic number. Most people can do it and that’s where the magic happens.
If you haven’t exercised in years, you should see your doctor and get a checkup. That’s the first step. Then, if he or she tells you to incorporate physical exercise and you decide that cycling is the way to go, just go for it. Go as long or as short as you want. If you need a benchmark, I think thirty minutes a day is about right. You’ll know. It all starts with one ride. You just might be surprised at where it takes you.