challenge · cycling

Let’s get started! ##30daysofbiking

Any distance. Any destination.

Join me in taking the 30 days of Biking pledge. Let’s ride everyday in April.

Spring riding isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it involves getting wet and muddy. But I like that it’s not yet about speed or even about distance. Spring riding feels adventurous to me. I just feel happy to be out there.

Unlike later in the summer, I find the people driving cars are happy to see me. I’m a sign of warm weather to come. Mostly they wave and smile.

These days there’s more and more of us out there on bikes. Through the pandemic, more people than ever started to ride. It’s safer than the gym and public transit. It’s good for the environment. Given rising fuel prices there’s yet another reason to ride.

My reason for riding is usually convenience with bonus smiles. That’s my daily commute. Recreational ride is all about the miles and smiles.

See you out there!

Ride your bike. Share your ride.
challenge · fitness

So many challenges, so little time…

Is it me, or are there even more January 1 challenges than ever before? Or maybe it’s just that I’ve reversed myself my views on challenges. I wrote here a while back that I found challenges, well, challenging. In that post I also laid out a beyond-challenging challenge for myself to readjust my eating/movement/sleeping/hair part, all for the better. Did it happen?

Yeah, no.
Yeah, no.

Later on, though, I found the challenging nature of challenges more intriguing, and decided to dip a toe in. My gateway challenge was the 218 workouts in 2018. Seemed simple enough, and of course in January there seemed to be oodles of time to do all those workouts. I did finish– on Dec. 31. Just in time!

These panels are supposed to explain just-in-time delivery. All I'm getting is that one guy has a headache, but then another guy gives him a box. Maybe just in time?
This supposedly explains just-in-time delivery. One guy has a headache, but then another guy gives him a box. Maybe just in time?

In 2021 I completed several Ten Percent Happier meditation challenges: work life, anxiety, and anti-diet (it was all about intuitive eating and was fine; I’ll blog about this sometime). I’m now coming up on day 2 of their 14-day Getting Unstuck challenge, which is all about changing habits. Good luck to me…

I’m guessing that getting unstuck from super glue is easier than getting unstuck from entrenched habits. But we’ll see.

For this year, I also signed up for the New York Times Eat Well Challenge, mainly for professional and blogging purposes. I’m wary of being preached to about “good” and “bad” foods, which, as we all know, are not things. Tracy and Sam and I and others have blogged about this fairly extensively, and our work is still not done. I’ll be reporting back on this challenge when it’s done (or when I give up, whichever comes first).

And then of course there’s the Yoga with Adriene annual January challenge. This one is called Move. I like the name: short, to the point, no attempt to dress things up. I love Adriene. I love Benji the yoga dog. I love yoga. I own multiple internet-enabled devices. Therefore, I’m all set.

Don't Adriene and Benji just make you want to do downward dog right now?
Don’t Adriene and Benji just make you want to do downward dog right now?

I think that covers it for my currently-running challenges. Hey readers, what challenges are you doing? What challenges are looking tempting? What challenges are just too absurd? Tell us– we want to hear everything.

challenge · cycling · holidays · Zwift

I did it!

I successfully met my challenge of riding 5500 km in a year. I did the final 20 km this evening to make it to 5500 km for the year. I wish I could say I finished up doing a race or some significant challenge but instead season 2 of Witcher was involved.

I originally thought that 5000 km was a reasonable goal and I’ve been trying to get there for years. Usually, most years, I top out at 4000 or so even in years when I’m doing the Friends for Life Bike Rally and riding in the southern US for a week or two in the winter.

It’s also arbitrary in a bunch of ways. For example, I’ve not been counting casual errand running or bike commutes. There’s no good reason why not except that I don’t use my Garmin for casual rides and so those rides aren’t tracked automatically.

Then along came Zwift and the pandemic. That made a huge difference to how far I ride in a given year. Last year I made it to 5000 km for the first time ever since I’ve been tracking these things. This year same thing. At some point in the middle of November I hit 4600 km and knew I’d easily make the 5000 goal. Instead, I decided to increase my goal to 5500 to make it a goal I’d actually have to work for rather than one I would just casually and easily float past.

What was the upside of the stretch goal? Well, it kept me riding regularly through the holidays. I rode my bike on the trainer Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Yes, I might have preferred walking outside with Cheddar but we had rain over the holidays and my knee wasn’t quite up for for very much walking.

Thanks for everyone who rode with me at the end. Hi Jenny! Hi Sarah! Thanks TFC teammates!

Sam’s Strava year in review stats page
challenge · fitness

Books and bikes: On the home stretch of 2021 challenges

“My two favorite things in life and libraries and bicycles. They move people forward without wasting anything.” Drawing of a girl on a bike climbing a hill.

There’s a lot of stress going on in the world right now. The pandemic and climate change related weather disasters to name the big two. But I’m focusing some of my attention–because it helps me stay on an even keel and get the work I need to get done done, while being a caring, engaged family member–on book and bike related personal challenges.

One of the ways my life changed with the pandemic is that absent all the activities in the world that involved other people–conference travel, holiday travel, theatre, concerts, and so–I’ve had more time to read books and ride my bike. They’re also both things that make me happy and given the state of the world, I’ve been lucky to have room for both in my life.

This year I set my GoodReads reading challenge to 24 books and my riding challenge to 5500 km. The books challenge doesn’t include things read for work and the bike challenge doesn’t count everyday commuting (for no good reason except I don’t track it using my Garmin and I can’t be bothered manually adding those rides, it’s all arbitrary anyway.)

With 19 days to go, will I make it?

Books

On the reading front, the answer is clearly ‘yes.’

“You’ve read 23 of 24 books.”

My daughter has booked a yurt for a few days away in one of the National Parks. We’ll walk and bike, cook food, play cards, but also, read books.

Here’s the next two on my list:

Two books: “Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness” and “Fight Night”

I just finished My Brilliant Friend, which I loved.

What are you reading over the holiday season? What do you recommend from 2021?

Bikes

On the riding front, I’ve got some work to do but I think it’s an attainable goal. I have 358 km to ride in 19 days, which works out to just under 20 km a day.

I’ve been doing some more group rides and badge hunting to get the kilometers in. December is #daily20km for me.

Neokyo badge hunters’ ride

Wish me luck!

challenge · motivation · new year's resolutions · WOTY

It’s WOTY-Challenge Time!

In this last month of the year, two thoughts bubble up: What’s my word of the year (WOTY) and what’s my challenge? Many of my fellow bloggers here are thinking about their words. Nicole, for example, says she is looking for a word that expresses the opposite of existential dread. I look forward to what she comes up with. We will have more WOTY posts, to be sure.

Last year my word was enough. For the early part of the year, I reminded myself with some regularity what my word was. I needed the specific boost. Just now, when I sat down to write this, I realized I’d forgotten what my word was. Yet, when I looked back and found my word, it was like a carillon. Oh yes, now I remember my word and I didn’t need the reminder after a certain point in the year, because I had installed an enough-ness fuel gauge in my bodymind dashboard and was taking conscious note of the fuel level on a more regular basis. That realization, in and of itself, topped up the fuel in my enough-ness tank. My word did its job. Pause for mini-celebratory dance.  

In a recent Peloton class one of my favourite instructors, Christine D’Ercole, said that we should give ourselves user names that, when we say them out loud, have the same effect as an encouraging hand on our back. That’s the effect I’m looking for in my WOTY. A word that encourages me. A carrot word. Not a stick word. 

Colourful assortment of letter tiles
Surendran MP on Unsplash

This year’s word builds on enough. I’m not going to give it to you straight out. There’s some stage décor to put in place first. It turns out that enough is a pretty damn bold word. Enough gives me the courage to plunge into learning new modalities (including two separate yearlong trainings, one in Non-Violent Communication and one in Internal Family Systems). Enough inoculates me against being overwhelmed by the voices in my head and in society, who say that I’m past due on expanding into new disciplines. Enough grants me the audacity to incorporate these new techniques into my work now with the simultaneous confidence of a seasoned practitioner and the caution of a novitiate. I am integrating my existing skills base with the fresh skills I am learning and honing to offer more holistic coaching and workshops.

At first, my word for next year wanted to be something like mastery. But two reasons held me back from that choice. First, the word is outmoded and even ugly, in a world that is waking up to all the hidden and subtle ways we perpetuate inequities. Mastery comes with a heavy burden of colonialism and racism.

This first reason would have been more than enough to keep the word out of contention. But there’s more. The word feels static. As if we can master something and then that’s it. One and done. Thank you very much. You may now come to me with questions. I’ve moved on to answers. No. That’s not how I feel about the skills I already have facility with, nor how I feel about the new tools I’m adding. There’s dynamism in the process. Learning is cyclical, not linear, building and looping back on itself to collect new gleanings.

I wanted a word to express my desire to keep learning, integrating, experimenting and refining. In that spirit, my word itself is freshly coined, by me.

Skillflow.

That’s my word. Say it out loud. Feel it on your tongue. Listen to it come out of your mouth. Do you feel how open the word is? Versus, for example, the word skillful, which closes in on itself with that final letter L.

Skillflow: (noun) the continuous, regenerative cycle of learning and applying our skills; the flow of fresh skills mixing with honed skills in a reciprocal renewal of energy.

I am already enough AND I’m going to learn so much this year. I’ve got my word.

So … I wrote all those words above yesterday and I felt plugged in and buzzing with possibility. Excited for the year to come. Up to the task. Empowered. Then I woke up this morning with a possibility hangover. That’s when the part of me who is fearful of failure gets very loud. I was down in the dumps. Questioning everything from my right to even propose a WOTY to my very existence. Apparently, my word is threatening to some part of me that fears that a hand on my back will push me right over a cliff into a humiliating failure; that I’ll choke on my carrot word. Sigh. Thank you, fearful voice. Breathe. Notice that I am learning new skills around befriending that scared voice. Allow her words to flow through me, instead of getting stuck inside like a brick in an impenetrable wall of the-truth-of-who-I-am.      

My word for 2022 is skillflow.

How about that challenge I mentioned? Challenges are my version of resolutions (but not). A friend calls them my annual devotional tasks. They are ways of being I want to try on for size, with no commitment to extend after the year is over.

Last year my challenge was twofold—to continue not to shop for anything from Amazon.com except books and movies (an extension of my 2020 challenge) and to commit to a poetry exchange with my friend (and fellow blogger here), Kim. We agreed to send each other new poems we’d written every second Sunday. We have two poem cycles left and the whole process has been fresh and bracing, plus liberating and connecting. Excellent. Last year, I wanted a challenge that wasn’t all about self-discipline and denial, which has characterized quite a number of my challenges (like not shopping for clothes for a year). This year I want a challenge … well … I have no clue what to do this year.

I’d love to hear your WOTYs and any ideas for a challenge.

challenge · cycling · fitness

Who decides what’s a challenge?

Mary Anderson set herself a challenge, to cycle through her home state of Vermont on her ebike. Her goal: to visit all 251 towns in one go. Since hitting the road on October 6, she has logged 205 towns and 1,317 miles. You can read all about it here.

Here’s Mary:

Mary and her ebike

I found out about her challenge when she shared it with the Cycling Past 50 group we’re both part of on Facebook.

But I was sad to see that immediately someone declared it wasn’t much of a challenge since she’s riding an e-bike. “You’re riding along with a motor? How can that that be a challenge?”

Grrr.

Mary replied telling him she was 64 and recovering from numerous breaks and tears and injuries. But that’s not the point.

Luckily before I could even start typing a Fit is a Feminist Issue regular commentator Kimberly Van Orman was typing, “Where is it written that only “challenging” rides are worthwhile anyway? Who decides what’s sufficiently challenging? Challenging for whom?”

Later in a messenger exchange with me, she continued. “I have an ebike. Vermont is the GREEN MOUNTAIN state. I can assure you that it was still a physical challenge, too.”

Thank you KVO.

We’ve been defending e-bikes on the blog for awhile now. Recently Joy Cameron has been blogging here about her e-bike and bike packing adventures.

But the point is bigger than e-bikes. It’s about you getting to decide what’s a challenge for you!

In local (for me) news, Guelph, Ont., woman to celebrate special birthday with 100 walks for 100 years. I hope no one chirps up in the comments to say it isn’t a challenge because she’s walking rather than running!

challenge · fitness

No-vember?

“No”-vember

I made it through October and now I’m arriving at my office in the dark, biking home in the dark, and there’s white stuff falling from the sky as I type.

November is a month of many things, including cold and here in Canada, the start of snow.

November is also a month of challenges.

It’s Mo-vember.

It’s also Gratitude Month. I’ve blogged about that here.

It’s No Spend November.

For many of my writer friends it’s also NaNoWriMo.

Lots of different challenges are going on, but another friend says that for her, it’s NO!-vember. She makes November not a month of taking on new challenges. Instead she makes it a month of saying NO to things.

Me, I’m all in on the Month of Gratitude. It makes me feel good, even while I know it’s somewhat forced and artificial, it also works. But I can also see the appeal of a month of “no.” Of course it’s more complicated than a simple across the board NO. Some things you want to say YES to. Instead, it’s a month of permission to decline things.

For me, I don’t think I need that permission. That’s too close to my pre-existing grumpy November mood.

But for you, maybe it works for you. Is there anything you’re saying NO to these days, as a conscious effort? Or is there another November challenge you’re taking on that I haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash. Painting of the word “No” in yellow on a red background.

challenge · cycling · fitness · Zwift

8 days to finish Zwift Academy 2021! Here’s my plan

I have eight days left to finish Zwift Academy 2021. It’s been both easier and harder than in past years. Past years were a mad dash to the finish. It’s been easier to complete and schedule the workouts but I’ve also been finding the workouts themselves tougher. I feel more than a bit out of bike shape after a summer of more low key outdoor pursuits.

I did the last workout, #6, this afternoon. It was supposed to be the afternoon of the Guelph Fall Colours Ride organized by the Guelph Coalition for Active Transit but that was rained out. Instead I hopped on the trainer and slogged through the last of the formal structured workouts.

Zwift Me. Sam’s Avatar doing the workout on her pink Tron bike

Here is Zwift’s description of the workout: “When you attack in a race or surge over a short hill, an intense burn always follows. This workout ensures you’ll hit these types of efforts stronger, pushing through the burn and helping maintain a high pace without fading after each effort. The anaerobic capacity (AC) effort at the start of this workout helps build up high lactate concentrations, essential for building FTP. The 1min rest that follows is enough to help recover adequately so you can complete the workout strong, but it doesn’t leave so much time that lactate concentrations will decrease. The workout is key when it comes to boosting your FTP and tackling longer segments with a higher level of fitness.”

GCAT Fall Colours Ride postponed to the 23rd due to rain

Here’s my riding plan for the next week:

Monday: Casse Pattes course ride over with TFC Dynamite team mates

Tuesday: Race Casse Pattes with TFC Dynamite in the Zwift Racing League

Wednesday: Zwift Academy Recovery Ride

” A Zwift Academy Recovery Ride is a social ride and an essential part of any training plan. Recovering from hard work allows you to adapt and develop. To do this you need to learn how to go easy and that is exactly how you should pace yourself on this ride. You will need to complete at least two recovery rides in order to graduate from Zwift Academy. These rides will be available exclusively in the event calendar so make sure you plan accordingly for these events. One recovery ride will need to be completed during the 1st block and one will need to be completed during the 2nd block to graduate. Recovery rides for block 2 are available from October 3 – October 25 . If you missed completing a recovery ride, recovery rides will also be available during makeups from October 11 – October 25.  Recovery Rides must be done with the group, and cannot be completed alone.”

Thursday race: Team Time Trial with TFC Phantom

Friday rest day

Saturday: Rescheduled Fall Colours Ride

Sunday: Finish Ride

“A Zwift Academy Finish Line ride is specifically designed to capture your gains over the duration of the Academy. It is set up identically to the Baseline Ride and will measure the exact same segments you started the Academy with. Riders are challenged to get PR’s on the segments and ride easy between the segments. There is no drafting and no leader. “

I’ll report back and let you know if I improved!

accessibility · challenge · fitness · walking

We’ve made it to Saskatchewan!

We’ve got some fit feminist groups doing the PaarticipACTION challenge this year. You can read about our kick off here. There are at least two teams that I know of. Teams are limited to 8 so we had to break into groups.

My team has made it to Saskatchewan so far.

We’re in Saskatchewan in the ParticipACTION challenge.

So far I’m enjoying the challenge and the hope of winning the team trip to the Yukon. It’s been a good reminder for me to get out and walk everyday. I’m still biking lots too.

With my horrible end stage osteoarthritic knees, I’m never sure how much is too much. Yes, walking hurts but it’s not making things worse and I like being outside and walking with family members and our dogs.

Mallory, Sarah and I are considering a hiking back country camping trip this spring and I’m really curious to see if I can do it. Knee replacement seems to be on hold forever and I’ve got to get on with my life. I’m not sure if I’m just getting used to being in pain or if walking is actually less painful some days.

Here’s galleries from three of my walks since the challenge began!

Walk with London kids after emergency dental visit!
Beautiful fall colours on my morning walk with Cheddar
Mum and me and the dogs walking on one of the Guelph trails
challenge · fall · fitness · season transitions

FIFI has a ParticipACTION team and you can join us!

I don’t know about you but for me the autumn can be challenging activity wise, as I pack up the canoe, and the small sailboat, and there’s no light left in the evenings.

To help with some bonus incentive, I joined the participACTION October challenge and made us a team. Join me?

It’s time to get moving in ParticipACTION’s Team Challenges. Join the Fit is a Feminist Issue team by entering code b3xyfrg in the free ParticipACTION app. Let’s get active together! Make sure you’ve got the latest version of the app: https://bit.ly/2GR6y3c

If the team is full by the time you get there, please feel free to start Fit is a Feminist Issue, 2 and so on. If you do that and you want others to join, pass along your team name and code in the comments. Thanks!