In previous years I have passed up on making the pledge for 30 Days of Biking because I didn't think I could commit with my busy schedule. This year was different and even though my schedule was still hectic, I decided to make the pledge anyway and commit to ride my bike every day in April. I would learn a lot of things about myself, my bike and where I rode over those thirty days. I would like to share these revelations and maybe they will inspire others to make the pledge next year.
Choose ride apparel right before a ride. The weather forecast from the night before may have changed since, so I would always find out what the live temperature and conditions were before selecting what I was going to wear. This saved me from wearing something too warm or not warm enough.
Google Maps with Biking Directions helps when planning a ride. When there was an area I wanted to ride but was unfamiliar with the bike infrastructure there I would visit Google Maps and on the menu tab I would select "Bicycling" and it would highlight trails, bicycle-friendly roads, dedicated lanes and dirt/unpaved trails. This made planning a route much easier.
Wet lube lasts longer and works great in rainy weather. As you may know, April can be a very wet month here in Minnesota so I always use a wet chain lube as opposed to a dry one. With wet lube I don't have to reapply as often even if riding in the pouring rain for several rides.
I relied on my Garmin Edge 1000 in map mode when traveling unfamiliar areas. To avoid dead ends or stay on an impromptu route this came in very handy. I could glance down at my Garmin and determine quickly if I should continue forward or take that turn ahead.
I learned the real battery life of my electronic devices. When using my Garmin and lights everyday I could gauge whether I had enough battery for another ride or two or I should recharge before heading out. It didn't take long to figure this out.
If everything is ready the night before it makes it much easier to go for a ride and have more time to do it. I would set out my electronics, helmet, shoes/boots and have my bike ready to go the night before so all I had to do is get dressed for the weather. I then had no excuse to not ride.
I could arrive to work early and ride the bike infrastructure nearby to save time. With plenty of trails, roads and even singletrack within a 5 mile radius of my work I would budget my time, leave the parking lot and ride. This allowed me to get back to work, get in a shower and change before I had to start my shift. Having a shower at work was nice for those rides I got a bit sweaty on.
I had to clean and maintain my bike more frequently when riding every day. Mostly it was just a matter of keeping the drivetrain clean since I was riding a little bit of everything (gravel, singletrack, wet pavement, etc.). Using wet lube attracts dirt and grime which required wiping down the chain and cleaning up the cassette/chainring. Since I had the bike in the stand I might as well clean the wheels and the frame too.
Wearing glasses makes it easier to see when riding in the rain. I did ride quite a bit in the rain during April and my glasses helped out a lot. I wasn't getting pelted in the eyes with raindrops while I was moving at a pretty good pace allowing me to see the road, other traffic and avoid hazards.
Riding everyday made it easier to climb hills and ride longer distances. I found this especially to be true on the last day of 30 Days of Biking when I rode 56 miles of gravel and hills at the Miesville 56. I even beat my time from last year and I was was rolling with 4.5" fat tires as opposed to 2.8" tires a year ago with the same bike.
My cyclocross boots got much more use than previously. I rode a lot in the morning and that was the coldest time of the day so instead of wearing my shoes with shoe covers, I opted for my waterproof cyclocross boots. They were made with neoprene and really held in the warmth. With all the rain we had in April they were my go-to footwear for keeping my feet dry also.
I paid more attention to my friend's activities on Strava. Not only did they gave me ideas for future rides to keep things fresh but it was fun to follow their progress and improvements during 30 Days of Biking.
Riding in the morning is my favorite time of day to ride. I rode in the afternoon and evening also, but riding in the morning for me was a great way to start the day. Afterward I would shower and feel great going into the rest of the day. The angle of the sun, the birds chirping and being out in nature made it a pretty great experience.
Commuting to work is a great way to get in two rides during a day. Taking different routes each time made the ride more interesting also. I could get in a ride during my favorite period of the day, the morning and roll with the sunset on the way home in the evening.
I watched the weather forecasts much more closely than normal, especially the hourly forecasts which seem to be the most accurate. With temperatures and possibilities of precipitation all over the place during April it helped me plan accordingly for the apparel and gear I would need for the ride.
|Image Credit: 30 Days of Biking|
If you've never made the pledge for 30 Days of Biking before, I highly recommend it. I'm positive that it will teach you 30 things about yourself, your bike(s) and gear that will make you a better cyclist.