I was a part of the National Bike Challenge, though just for September this year because I had a miserable time getting the NBC hooked up to my Endomondo account earlier in the season and I just didn’t care to take the time to figure it out (I used to be entered automatically through my GPS account).
Over the last few years I was happy if I ended up in the top ten percent of the National and Local Leader boards. I figured if I was in the top ten percent of nuts who go to the trouble of tracking their workouts, well that was something. On the other hand, of course, it really isn’t, because the real nuts don’t bother tracking anything – they know they’re going to get their miles. My cycling buds, Mike and Chuck, both have more miles than I do and neither one are in on the challenge… Of course, they’re both retired too, so there’s that.
Still, of the more than 92,000 Americans participating in the challenge, I cracked the top 200 as of last weekend (I’m currently around 250 for the Nation – I’ve dropped a few places in the last few days). I am top ten for my state (top 0.5%) and that includes STRAVA, Endomondo, Map My Ride and Moves users… While it’s not a big deal on one level, it’s still pretty cool on another.
I don’t participate for props, or to be better than anyone else, I suppose it’s like running a 8 minute mile in a 5k running race. If you’re a guy, you won’t even sniff an age group podium at 23 minutes in my area. Still, we run them anyway and we all check our splits and place, both overall and by age grouping. We know we’re not going to win but dropping from a 9 minute mile, and all of the places associated with the increase in performance simply makes the effort a little more worthwhile.
Then there’s the political side of the Bike Challenge. They talk about saving expended greenhouse gasses because of miles ridden, but even when I’m just taking a trip to the bike shop, I’m blowing out less CO2 by taking the car, only because I take the long route, but many of my miles are pure enjoyment miles. Now, to really get much too intellectual on this, I’m going to breathe whether I’m on a bike or not, but my respiration is definitely increased while I’m riding, so I’m blowing out more CO2 (a pollutant by the ridiculous EPA’s standards) than I would if I were riding the couch instead. On the other hand, because I ride my bike, my normal respiration the other 22-1/2 hours of the day (give or take) is greatly less taxing than if I were that couch jockey, which I most definitely am not. However, I have to eat more food to fuel the effort of riding a bike, so that requires groceries that have to be shipped, often across the country, to get to the store. Then I have to drive there so we can pick enough groceries up for the week and then drive home. Of course, we were going to do that anyway, so there’s only the added food required to pedal my bike so you actually have to write that trip to the grocery store and 99.9999875% of the shipping – because that stuff was going to be shipped anyway. In other words, I’m just writing down words to seem witty. It’s all bullshit and I really don’t care anyway, as long as I get to ride my bike. Well, all but the fact that my good buddy Brad is out harvesting his soy beans right now and his are used in the production of carbon fiber. No shit. Really. My carbon fiber bike is made with a renewable foodstuff grown and harvested by one of my cycling buddies. Can’t say that about an aluminum frame. That’s made out of a pop can. I digress…
What’s really important is this:
Now honestly, the 1,038 miles in August is probably a little more impressive simply because I had DALMAC in the first week of September – I had almost 450 miles before we even hit Labor Day. I was almost halfway to that 1,058 miles before I hit the Second full week of September – and it was a good thing too, because after DALMAC I had to slow things down considerably for a week so I could recover a little bit. The second week I only managed 150 slow-ish miles. That said, I only missed one day in September, on the 10th… So in three months, July, August and September, I had all of two days off of the bike. Two, out of 90+. Now that, I like. Best of all and contrary to my once firmly held belief that a day off at least once a week was necessary, I went through all 90 days with, at worst, only a minimal pain here and there (I had a sore Achilles’ here or there – that was the worst, but it never rose above “meh”). No overuse injuries, nothing other than the occasional saddle sore to deal with (Aquaphor is the best thing ever for a saddle sore btw).
To wrap this post up, now that we’re into October and I surpassed my yearly mileage goal (6,000) by more than 500 miles with three months left in the year (I have more outdoor miles this year than overall mileage in 2013 and 2012), it’s time to take some time off to indulge my other hobby. It’s time to pack up the camper and head up north for bow hunting season. My weekends will be filled with plenty of quiet time in the woods and some bro time with a good friend whom I haven’t been able to hunt with for years. While this may sound fairly easy, and we do camp in style (movies every night, good food, plenty of coffee…), I’ve never gained weight over a hunting season – in fact, I’ve lost weight every season. Living outdoors is a lot of work. That said, it’s always worth the effort. 😀
I love this time of year! Life is good.