During the month of October I completed a 1500 kilometer Great Cycle Challenge raising money for kids cancer. Here is a summary of what I learned.
While this isn’t a large ride for most people for me it was coming from a background of little to no cycling. It was still challenging as I had to commit to an average of 5 kilometers per day for 30 days.
1. Consistency is hard
Probably the most difficult part of the challenge was consistency. If one day was missed due to bad weather this meant making up an extra 5 kilometers on the next day.
As I was not cycle commuting fitting in the ride each day had to be deliberate and consistent slotting an additional activity in to my existing daily life.
2. Riding is tiring
As I lift weights 3 times a week with barbell squats in each of those work outs my quads were taking a real hit from all the lifting and the cycling.
Initially every day felt like they were worn out and had no energy left in them.
3. Riding gets easier
As I mentioned it was tiring but it also did get easier after approximately 2 weeks. Cycling the required distances became easier and easier. Less breathing was required and my legs slowly adapted to the extra effort.
4. Cycling is meditative
I meditate each morning when I first wake up but also noticed a very similar experience when cycling. With headphones in and lots of environment to pay attention to I noticed that it’s different than driving a car.
Although I drive similar roads to where I was cycling I pay far more attention when cycling. I noticed more greens, more trees, more blue sky, more clouds. My mind was quieter with less story telling too.
5. Cars are cyclist friendly
Some people say they’re afraid to cycle because of the danger aspect. I noticed however that the majority of cars are very cyclist friend.
Most would slow right down and pass cautiously or when approaching a corner or roundabout they would stop and cautiously allow you to go first.
6. Habits stick
After meditating in the morning I would jump out of bed and put some tracksuit pants on to immediately get in a quick ride before work.
At first this was difficult but then it became part of my morning routine and quickly turned to habit. Longer weekend rides on a Sunday also became habit.
7. There is no hurry
Finally I noticed that when I drive my car to work my mindset is that of a rushed commute. The only focus is on getting from A to B as quickly as possible (driving sensibly of course).
But when cycling I don’t have this destination based mindset. The process of the journey is far more relaxed and enjoyable.
While these benefits are probably obvious to those who cycle frequently I found them enlightening nonetheless. I plan to continue incorporating cycle fitness for health and mental health as part of my daily living. Given the cost of running a vehicle too (my car costs around $4,000/year to run with 65% of that fuel) I hope to also save some money.