Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in...
Without even a full day to reflect on the significance of (nearly) keeping the 30 Days of Biking pledge, it's time to head over to the National Bike Challenge website and make another commitment. While it is highly unlikely that I'll unknowingly be obligating myself to pedal another 10 days in 30 degree weather, I do have to stop and ask myself just what these continual commitments are all about.
I love riding my bike. I look forward to it. I daydream about where I'm going to ride next. Do I really need to make a formal commitment to stay motivated?
Without 30 Days of Biking, I'm sure I would have ridden at least eight of the thirty days in April. Eight is precisely the number of days that the temperature was above 60 degrees at the time I chose to ride. That's an average of twice each week. There are a lot of people that would consider two days per week a fair amount of outdoor exercise.
But when I look back at the actual data, just waiting for the temperature to break 60 would have kept me off the bike for two straight weeks. Any momentum I would have gained during four of the first eight days in April would have been lost waiting for ideal weather conditions to return over the next thirteen days.
Ok, I guess I can admit that the pledge forced me to lower my threshold temperature for suiting up and riding outside. Certainly I could have toughened up and gone out in 50 degree temps. That would have added at least another - wait, seriously - three days? There were only a total of 11 days above 50 when I had time to actually go outside and ride?
I guess having a goal, making a pledge, and keeping a commitment to myself contributed to picking up another 20 days and 250 miles of riding in sub-60 degree, unusually cold, April weather. Even with taking two days off - one due to a snowstorm as I was leaving Minneapolis and another because I was too tired to ride after a long effort the previous day - I still managed to ride the same amount of miles as all of last April. Last year, by the way, we had 22 days above 50 (and only 1 below 30 and I was in Duluth that day).
At this point, you're probably just as tired of my armchair weatherman routine as I am. The weather is going to be what it's going to be - no use obsessing about it. May will be better. As long as it doesn't go right to 80 and stay there, we'll all be fine. Extreme weather will no longer be an excuse.
But what of the other obstacles that crop up? An afternoon graduation party that wipes an entire Saturday off the calendar? A honey-do project that can no longer be put off? The temptation to stay out too late and sleep away half a Sunday? What will help you pedal around these impediments and keep your momentum going?
Only you know where you'd like your bike to take you this season. A relaxing jaunt on a scenic rail trail. A long-distance ride to raise money for a disease that plagues a loved one. An outing with the kids.
You may have a goal to lose a stubborn ten pounds. Cut back on trips by car and save your gas money for something you've been dreaming about. Soak up more Vitamin D. Do your part in cutting CO2 emissions. Get some energy back.
A simple pledge, a formal commitment, a declaration to yourself and others, just might be all it takes to make this your best bicycling season ever...
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Keep riding and be safe!