Swim: 2,000 m/66,000 m
Bike: 27.4/297.9 miles
Run: 0/100.7 miles
My brother and I were on a backpacking trip a few years ago, and after a grueling first day of climbing several thousand feet over about 13 miles we crashed into our tents for a solid night’s sleep. The next morning I actually felt refreshed, and although 13 miles awaited us that day I felt positive about my apparent lack of soreness. We ate breakfast and packed up camp, still feeling pretty good about things. But the second the straps of my cheap, decade-old backpack touched my shoulders, the soreness from the previous day’s efforts shot through my body like lightning and suddenly made me feel like I had already been hiking all day.
This #30daysofbiking challenge is hitting me in a similar way, although thankfully it’s not as extreme. As of today, I’m halfway through the monthlong challenge to ride my bike every day. With rides ranging from a single mile made up of 17 laps around my driveway to 23 miles in the country, I’ve kept up with the challenge and ridden every day so far.
Like the backpack on that hiking trip, the constant biking is having a pronounced effect on my body. I wake up in the morning feeling excited about the day’s ride, ready to get on the road. But the second I start to pedal, those muscles wake up and let me know that they remember what I’ve been putting them through. But it hasn’t been bad (a nice bike makes things a little easier) and I actually can tell that I’ve become a stronger biker in just two weeks. Here are some of the thoughts that flow through my mind while I’m on the road:
– Weather: Riding in warm weather is so much better than riding in the cold. As a runner, I long for cold temperatures – I’ll take a cloudy, 40 degree morning over a humid 80 degrees any time. But as spring unfolds, I’m finding that I love riding in the warm weather. Maybe it’s something about wearing fewer wind-catching clothes to slow me down, or the fact that I’m not in direct contact with the pavement (hopefully), or that I’m moving much faster, but it just seems more invigorating when it’s warm.
– Aero: I’ve been riding a lot more in the aero position in the past week. I figure that if I’m spending so much time on the bike, I should be putting that time to good use by actually learning how to ride better instead of just logging miles. This goes back to the warm weather, but wearing lighter clothes seems to help when riding in aero, too. It’s easier to move back and forth and to feel more in control without constricting sleeves and layers. I am getting much more confident about riding faster and longer in that position, and it’s interesting to see the effect on my riding. I feel more powerful, and can usually push a higher gear than I would be using if I stayed upright.
– Strength: Like I mentioned above, I think I’m getting stronger. I can power up hills in my neighborhood that once might have forced me to downshift. I just feel like there’s more juice available. Aside from the initial feeling of mild soreness when I start the ride, my legs feel really good, like they have energy to burn. Also, with more riding I am becoming even more familiar with my bike, and feel more confident with my speed and with cornering and steering while in aero.
– Running: There has to be a downside to all this riding, and that downside is my lack of running this month. I’ve only been on two runs so far, for a total of about 11 miles. But when you have to fit in a ride every day, it takes time that I might have once given to running. I don’t feel too bad about this, after my 10k PR at the beginning of the month. I’ve got a good base and the running will pick up when the April challenge ends.
– Mileage: So far I’ve ridden 143.8 miles in April, by far the most miles I’ve ridden in a single month. My (drastically insufficient) goal at the outset was to ride 100 miles this month. I’d never done that before, so it seemed like a lot at the time. But I rode my 100th mile last Sunday, on the 10th day of the challenge, and my April mileage is only 10.3 miles from topping the combined mileage from the first three months of 2011.
This challenge has been so much fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the second half of the month plays out.