Wednesday, July 25, 2007

1 Year Cycling Anniversary

4,513.66 miles

biked 209 of the 365 days


It's just a coincidence that I got back into biking during the Tour last year as I didn't follow it at all. Jeff and I just missed biking and instead of sitting around missing it, started doing it again!

It's a little embarrassing to admit it, but we had both become quite sedentary for several years due to some negatives like health trouble and various life events, but also just having interest in time consuming sedentary hobbies. It was time to become more balanced! Fortunately, we both still loved biking and since we were both out of shape, we could build up our strength together. We bought mountain bikes since that's what we were familiar with and had ridden before.

It's pleasantly surprising how quickly the body can recover from sitting around. In case you are interested, or maybe beginning some exercise of your own, I'll write a little recap of our progress. Our first rides in July and August were generally around 15 miles long, though occasionally we did as much as 25 miles. We averaged 10 mph, a little less if it was off pavement. By September, we were still doing 15 mile rides with a few longer ones, but the average speed crept up to 11-12 mph. In September, I realized that I wanted to get a road bike since most of our route options were paved. For October, I began to increase my miles and effort to 'earn' the new bike. I wanted to ride at least as many miles as dollars I would spend on the new bike! In October, I felt like I had hit a plateau in my ability. I did 15 mile routes at 11-12 mph, but I got out more days. This effort paid off in November! I really felt changes in my ability in a matter of days! Nearly all my rides were ~25 miles long and I averaged 12-14 mph. And, I rode a lot of days! We had a wonderful, warm December and I remained dedicated to my biking. I continued with the 25 mile rides and increased my average speed to 13-15 mph.

At the very end of December and in January, a friend loaned me her road bike to try. My average speed on the road bike was ~16 mph. I loved the light, fast feel of it! I got my own bike in February and to review my progress with that you can go to my 2nd Quarter Bike Stats post! Also, you can see more information under 'Some of My Ride Stats' in the sidebar.

It has taken some effort and perseverance to go from sedentary to active, but I am happy to feel fitter again! It doesn't take very long to see some really big changes. I guess the 'trick' is to find a fun way to exercise. When I am out biking, I never think 'I'd rather be doing something else'. I'm always in the moment and enjoying it. Yes, even when it's hard and I'm tired and pushing myself and feel my legs turning to jelly. Actually, that's part of of the fun! It helps that I'm pretty good at pacing myself and setting manageable goals! It may help to have a slight competitive streak, not necessarily compared to other bikers, but just the desire to beat your own best stats. The satisfaction of finishing a tough ride and the flood of happy endorphins, makes the trouble all worth it.

What are my goals for the next year of cycling? Primarily, to keep up the momentum. As far as improvements, I'm mainly interested in increasing my overall average speed. I have decided that I prefer rides lasting in the range of 20-60 miles for now. Personally speaking, there is not a lot to be gained from pushing myself at my best speeds for longer than 60 miles or so. That's not to say I won't do it occasionally, just not all the time ;-) I like to keep my time in the saddle to under 4 consecutive hours, so that works with the 20-60 mile range.

Just one more note, biking is a very 'leveling' activity that people of all sizes and ages can enjoy doing together. For me, the best part of biking is that Jeff and I can enjoy it together and improve at about the same rate, so neither of us holds the other back. I would especially recommend cycling for this reason.

Btw, Jeff biked a total of 3,462.51 miles!


Ina said...

Happy Anniversary! What a great year you've had - best wishes for many, many more!!

Kristen said...

That is just incredible - congratulations! I wish my husband would bike with me. He does have a bike but hasn't ridden in years. He did buy biking shoes a month ago but that is as far as he's gotten.
Keep up the inspiring riding!

Meg said...

So inspiring! I tend to see cycling as getting from Point A to Point B, preferably with no hills in between. I've been thinking about riding to work for a long time now, the only problem is a significant (to me) hill at the midway point... but I did a practice run last weekend and it was fine. You are making me feel much more motivated to give it a go!

Devorah said...

Happy Anniversary and Way to Go! Are you going to ride the NYC Century?

Christina said...

happy biking anniversary!! I have just retaken up cycling this year, so I hope I can improve as much as you in the coming year!! wow, have you cycled a long way too :)

Riggwelter said...

What a wonderful story! My husband is the main rider, it's his chosen scource of transport, so he travels a fair few miles in a year. Since the children are all now in school, I can join him at times. I completely agree with what you say about not wanting to be anywhere else when cycling, no matter how much it hurts!
We have some wonderful countryside here, most of which is easier to get to by bike, and is usually uphill, but then there's always the down hill, which I love!
We are now currently discussing how we can get 4 kids attached to 2 bikes!