September 26, 2012 will be my 1,000th consecutive day of cycling. (Coincidentally, this is my mother’s birthday.) It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always sensible. But it did always happen, at least for the last 1,000 days. I have ridden a minimum of 10 miles on each ride. I’ve ridden the road bike, the mountain bike, my Florida commuter bike, the stationary bike, the Cycle Ops trainer and even my wife’s bike in order to get a ride in every day.
I’ve also had my share of mechanicals along the way. Most of these were flat tires that I managed to patch or replace the tubes and make it safely home. A few times, I had to stop several times to pump more air into the tire in order to make it home. During a Florida ride, I took 3 nails in the same tire and had to call my wife to rescue me. And once I had to call a taxi to get me home after discovering the unopened glue in my patch kit was dry as a bone and my spare tube already had a puncture.
I have enjoyed the beauty that is New England by riding many of the roads in Northwest Vermont, Eastern Massachusetts, touches of Rhode Island and New Hampshire, some of Southwest Florida and even a little smidgen of Quebec. My trips have taken me past Walden Pond, Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, Little Women and the Lexington Battle Green. I have seen ospreys, great blue herons, great white herons, burrowing owls and egrets to name a few. I have also met new cycling friends from Massachusetts, Florida and Massachusetts as well as my numerous friends from around the globe on dailymile (www.dailymile.com).
I managed to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol, drop 25 pounds and all but eliminate the severe pain in my surgically repaired knees. To be honest, I’ve still got more gut to cut. Along the way, I have had a few scrapes, bumps and bruises but no worse than what the average child gets on the playground. I have had to work through extreme wrist tenderness and butt pain. A focus on cycling form has done wonders for the wrists. And thanks to several dailymile friends, the discovery of Chamois Buttr’ has proven to be a miracle ointment for the bum!!
Most if not all of these things could have been achieved without riding every single day. So why do I do it? Honestly, there is one simple reason. When I miss one day of cycling, too often that turns into a week or more before I’m back on the bike. By asking the question: “WHEN will I get my ride in today?” instead of: “Will I get my ride in today?”, I can maintain the consistency I desire and need in order to improve as a cyclist. Although I am still a novice at this sport and not really very good at it, I have improved and learned a lot. Although like many things, the more you learn about something, the more you realize you don’t know.
Although I am very pleased with my cycling streak, I wish I had the discipline of many of my dailymile friends to take rest days, recovery days and incorporate a great variety of cross training into their workouts. I know that would be much healthier and in fact, help me improve more quickly. But for me, it doesn’t work that way. I spend too much time restarting my training. For me, that isn’t the fun part. I love heading out for a ride on a beautiful day where I feel like there are no limits to where I can go or how long I can ride.
During the winter months, I spend a lot of time on the indoor trainer or the Cycle Ops trainer. It’s not always easy to sit in the same place while pedaling 20, 30, 40 miles or more. What motivates me to sit there and get the miles in during those cold and dreary months is the thought of that first springtime ride. There’s nothing like heading out in March or April for a long ride and feel good doing it!
I’ve had a lot of help keeping this streak alive. Family and friends have been mostly supportive, even if they don’t necessarily understand it. My dailymile friends have been very supportive, motivating and inspiring through thick and thin. My family also thanks the dailymile community for providing me with an outlet for my cycling commentaries and providing me with an ear so they don’t have to.
I know the streak will end one day. I’ll be disappointed when it does, but I know it’s bound to happen. Until then, I’ll keep cycling and counting the days.