Friday, January 3, 2014

Challenge: January Transportation Riding

Here we are, already into the new year. Some people have set resolutions for themselves while others opt out of this tradition. Typically, as I've admitted over the years here, I tend to avoid resolving to do anything in January. However, a challenge presented itself and now (even though I'm not calling it a "resolution") I find myself in the midst of a new goal of sorts for January. If you use Strava, you may be familiar with their challenges throughout the year. This one in particular is a more subdued challenge issued, basically asking cyclists to ride as many miles as possible in the month of January.
*Image from Strava
Most people who have joined this challenge (or really any challenge on Strava) are looking to log serious training miles. When they say they're going to cycle "x" number of miles, I know that the majority are joining with the mindset that it is for purposes other than what I intend. I decided to join this challenge - not because I have any intention of doing training rides this month - but rather, I'd like to see how many miles I can ride purely for joy, transportation, errands, etc. The number they've selected is 600 kilometers (or just under 311 miles) to be given the opportunity to purchase a "Prove It" t-shirt. There are markers along the way, and no one is being forced to complete 600 km, but I thought it could be interesting to see if it's possible to complete the same mileage, purely for pleasure. If it were summer, I'd say putting in 300 miles would be no issue, but because I work from home and the weather is so unpredictable in January, it could mean a lot fewer riding miles, so I've issued a self-challenge to see what I can do during the 31 days of this month.

With that in mind, I have set forth some rules for my challenge:

- I will not count any rides that are done specifically for the purposes of exercise, training, etc (which shouldn't be hard as I tend not to do those this time of year). I will, however, count rides I take to the gym to workout, since most people drive a car to the gym, and thus I consider it a transportation ride.

- Speed is not a factor in this challenge (nor is it for the Strava challenge), so I will be riding like I would any time for transportation purposes. I want to see what it's like to have a mileage goal, but still ride as though the mileage doesn't matter (if that's possible).

- Any ride accomplished on my road bike will not count towards the mileage goal (this will prevent me from sneaking in faster rides on clear days, simply to make up mileage).

- The goal (with the exception of transportation to workouts obviously) is to wear clothing I would normally wear when going out to run errands, etc. Again, this shouldn't be an issue as it is typically what I would do anyway.

The purpose behind all of this is not to torture myself, nor to make riding a bike into a bigger deal than it is, but rather simply to see what happens when the weather is uncooperative (or at least not what I would ideally like it to be). While I know that I can ride regardless of the weather, I'm curious to see if having a challenge in front of me will help me choose a bike more often for transportation. Will I wimp out and walk or drive rather than riding when the weather gets iffy? I suppose only time will tell.

Have you set a cycling goal for yourself during the winter months to see you through the tough times, or is it a non-issue for you to ride in the cold, snow, ice, etc? Perhaps you wait it out until the weather gets warmer or you live in a climate that is warm during this season?

6 comments:

  1. I live in Vermont. Biking to work in the winter is out of the question. It's dark and my commute is 11 miles one way, on narrow high speed roads. However, I have a different approach for the other half of the week (I work part time). If the roads are dry I will do errands until temperatures dip to 20F. I keep warm with layers and use chemical warmers. Otherwise I walk everywhere. I live in a small city where everywhere I need to go is within walking distance. Last year I joined Chasing Mailboxes, D.C.'s Errandonnee, a challenge to ride and complete errands in February, but only because there was a string of sunny days that dried the pavement. As bike riders, we all have different tolerances for weather and road conditions, and, most especially, what we perceive as safe.

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    1. So true! I am finding my tolerances very quickly. We had about half a foot of snow fall just this morning and I realized it just wasn't going to happen because it was so icy. I have chose the bike in other snow falls, but I think knowing what works as individuals is so important.

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  2. I'm a cold weather wimp. I admit it! Biking in the winter is something I want to do, but find painful. So, much of my winter is "arm chair biking". Plus, we are having really cold weather this year.

    So good to see you back!

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    1. I hear ya! I am not a lover of the cold - particularly the bitter cold - but I've kind of made my peace by wearing multiple layers on the slightly warmer days of winter. I just miss being on the bike if I wait until summer to find us again.

      Thanks...definitely going to attempt to be better about posts. :O)

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  3. I don't have a winter specific goal, but I did sign up for the bikejournal.com Commuter Cycling Century Challenge. The goal is commute to work 100 times during 2014. They count days rather than trips or miles. Since I don't have a summer commute (college prof. who leaves the hot south during summers!), I'll have to ride at least three days a week during the other three seasons.

    It usually doesn't get too cold here in Memphis, so winter challenges aren't that challenging. My coldest ride so far was a 28-degree breezy day, which was doable for me. Tomorrow, though, they are predicting a high of 12 degrees! I'm not equipped for that kind of cold, so I'll be in the car.

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    1. That sounds like a great challenge, Kendra! I like the idea that you do it for the entire year and not just a specific amount of time... I would think that would keep most people motivated throughout the year.

      I think 28 is doable too. I think what bothers me the most in winter here is the ice as the snow becomes more compacted. Good luck with your challenge! Sounds like fun. :O)

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