camping · challenge · charity · cycling · fitness

The bike rally day 3 is a slow roll into Kingston, also red dress day!

It’s the shortest day on the rally, just 60 km into Kingston. Now that’s not nothing but it’s less than half of what we did yesterday. It’s also Red Dress day or Dress in Red day, your choice.

Here’s Sarah and me at the start. Or as Sarah and I like to call it, the hurry up and wait, part of the morning. You rush to have breakfast, get dressed, take down tents, pack bins and load bins on the truck, but then you can you can’t leave until all of the trucks and loaded and have left.

But the weather was good this morning and so we sat in the grass pretty happily. It is overcast and in the low 20s. No bright sun, no rain, just perfect riding weather.

We also took the time to take team photos in all of our red dress finery.

Rally’s Angels

Here’s our ride on Strava.

Ride on Strava

Why the slow roll approach? Well we’re staying in the residences at Queen’s tonight. Thanks Queens! And while there are hot showers, laundry, real beds, and air conditioning, we don’t have access to our rooms until 1. So if we leave camp at 9 that’s 4 hours to do 60 km.

Our team decided it was a good morning to stop for coffee en route. Sarah and I were also slowed down by our first flat of the rally.

Here are all the bins in the courtyard of the residence at Queen’s

Here’s some video from the day

And our team at the Kingston sign.

Rally’s Angels

Tonight it’s team dinner plus a drag show in the park after. If you’re around, stop by.

“DRAG IN THE PARK: Trellis HIV & Community Care, Tourism Kingston, and the greater Kingston community invites The Friends For Life Bike Rally to DRAG IN THE PARK, a showcase of fantastic (and slightly naughty) entertainment under the open sky in Confederation Park (that’s the big park between Kingston City Hall and Lake Ontario). The show will start at 7:30pm on the veranda of the Kingston Visitor Information Centre.”

Tomorrow we ride Kingston to Johnstown, about 110 km.

We’re now halfway to Montreal and I think about $30,000 away from our 1.5 million dollar fundraising goal. If you’ve been thinking about donating, every bit helps, and here’s the link.

challenge · fitness

Considering pointless fitness goals

Recently, the Atlantic featured an article on the notion of “pointless goals”– challenges that don’t seem to make sense. Their canonical case is the guy who decided to walk all the way from Los Angeles to New York– wearing a bear suit. Which he did.

Jessy Larios, alias @iambearsun, walking in his bear suit along a US highway somewhere.

Larios said he did it sort of on impulse, although he ended up raising money for charities. It was quite hot inside the suit. But he said he met a lot of very nice people.

People do variations on this theme all the time. While riding the NYC Century (I did the 75-mile route), there were folks riding it on single speed bikes, folding bikes and even unicycles. One guy did the New York City triathlon on a BMX bike. And for the annual Halloween bike ride in Boston, there’s always that person riding the route in wheelie position.

This got me thinking: maybe Larios is on to something here. We are definitely in a challenge-oriented epoch. Many challenges confer a semblance of purpose: write a novel in a month, or try one new recipe or yoga pose or language lesson or book chapter every day for a month.

There are also the infamous 30-day fitness challenges. They seem to be focused on some (possibly bogus or even downright unhealthy) so-called wellness or fitness goal. We’ve all seen the plank, squat, abs, strength and other challenges. They tend to come in graphic box form with teeny-weeny print.

In a way, lots of goals we set are pointless. After all, what does it matter if we visit every state or province, or climb all the 4000-foot peaks in New Hampshire (a popular one where I live)? Or (as my niece seems on her way to doing), collecting all of the Squishmallow stuffed animals? Warning: clicking on the link may make you want to buy one. They’re totally adorable.

And yet. It feels kind of cool and fun to set and complete a pointless goal. I once (accidentally, it wasn’t a planned goal) rode a rental bike on the beach at the Atlantic Ocean and also the Pacific Ocean (different bikes, obvs) in the same week. Yeah!

Now that I’m on sabbatical and have more time to be out and about and also travel some, I’m shopping around for pointless fitness challenges. Here are some I have in mind:

1. Swim (or at least immerse myself) in all of the Great Lakes this fall. The hard ones are Superior and Michigan, but I *could* do the drive to Mackinaw, Michigan, and then up to Sault St. Marie. Why? Who knows. It just seems like a fun thing to do.

Uh oh. I just found this site by swimmers who dipped in all five great lakes in 24 hours. See? Once you get started, you have no sense of where to stop, and before you know it, you’re walking in a bear suit outside Iowa City, looking for a gas station restroom.

Maybe there’s a way to do this in a controlled manner. How about this pointless fitness goal., which I actually want to do:

2. Ride all of the Rail Trails in the Rail Trail Hall of Fame. Yes, this seems like a lot of fun. I’ve already ridden five of them. Only 31 to go. Honestly, some of these trails I’ve been salivating over for a while.

I’m in no hurry to complete this pointless goal; it seems too nice a goal to rush. And I want to include as many of my friends on bikes as possible on my quest.

3. Another swimming goal that lots of folks have done, but I haven’t (yet): swim in open water (fresh or salty) outside in nature every month starting, well, now (August). During the pandemic, loads of folks started wild swimming. Yes, some of our bloggers have been swimming wild and swimming cold for a long time. But it’s okay to come late to the party, right? The reason is simple: use this pointless act as a way to get me out in nature, really immersed in it (no pun intended).

By the way, I’m going to count January ocean swimming in South Carolina or Florida as having fulfilled that month’s immersion quota. Consider yourself notified.

Readers: I’m in need of inspirational suggestions. What sorts of pointless fitness goals are you actively involved in, or tried and completed, or want to do, or rejected after one day? I’d love to hear from you.

challenge · clothing · family

Sam’s first few days of not shopping

In my blog post A year without buying clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry…Can Sam do it? I declared that I was going to go a year without buying clothes, shoes, jewelry, and purses. That’s July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

I’m two days in and thought I’d report on how things are going. Lol.

Mostly I’ve been responding–deleting emails from Fluevog and text messages from TomboyX, my favorite shoe and underwear companies respectively. I’ve unsubscribed from mailing lists. I’ve taken the Poshmark app off my phone.

Friends have been asking if I stocked up at all. I did make offers on a bunch of stuff I liked at Poshmark and had some of those offers accepted. I did buy a number of good quality black and white t-shirts, some new underwear, and bras. In the bra case I was replacing the underwire version I’ve rejected during the pandemic.

Have I been tempted to buy anything?

Not really. I went on autopilot registering for an upcoming cycling event and put the event jersey in my shipping cart. But by the time I checked out, I remembered, and took it out. Bike jerseys are among the last thing I need. I think I own about 30. Last I counted that was 31. See Old shorts, thinning lycra, and too many bike jerseys.

Tour de Norfolk bike jerseys

We parked outside my favorite consignment store in Guelph today and I did consider the sale rack. But I resisted. I didn’t even go in and see if any of my stuff had sold.

I’m still undecided about a friend’s upcoming wedding. I said I’d make an exception for unexpected big events. I think though there must be something I already own that I can wear. Time to try on all the dresses that I reject as being too dressed up for work.

For those of you who are doing this challenge with me, how are you finding it so far?

challenge · clothing · fashion · fitness

A year without buying clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry…Can Sam do it?

I’m going to take the plunge and quit shopping for clothes (also shoes, purses, jewelry) for one year, July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023.

Why?

Well, I’ve been inspired by Mina Samuels’ account of her one year no shopping challenge. See Making Room in My Mind: A Year of No Shopping.

Not having much stuff with me is one of the things I loved about my sabbatical years in other countries. I arrived with a suitcase of clothes and wore them for the year. I had a few work outfits, a few hanging out at home outfits, some bike clothes, a bathing suit (not 7!) and a raincoat. That was about it. I spent a lot less time deciding what to wear and since I only brought clothes I really liked with me, I was pretty much always happy with my choices.

Simpler life on sabbaticals suits me and while I haven’t been able to make that work at home, I’d like to try.

I’ve also been stress shopping in pandemic times and I’d like to stop that. In terms of pandemic stress bad habits, it’s not the worst but who really needs a nap dress or a #workfromhome llama onesie! I also now own Pride Hunter rainboots AND bright pink UGG rainboots, and leopard print crocs with fur inside. Really, that’s enough frivolous footwear for a lifetime.

Sam’s frivolous footwear
Animated Sam in her llama jammies onesie

Regular readers know that I’m a critic of fast fashion and I used to teach about the ethics of consumption in the context of fashion. While I mostly buy made in Canada clothes, not fast or inexpensive, there’s still not much good in owning as much clothing as I do.

I also hope to get rid of stuff I don’t actually wear. Possibly that might include the nap dress. Lol.

Finally, I’d like to put some money away for travel once the pandemic travel panic eases a bit and I feel like, for me, the bother/pleasure is right again.

Why not?

I get a lot of pleasure out of clothes, and clothes shopping, and putting outfits together. Why quit one of things that makes me happy? The thing is I’m curious. Can I get a different sort of pleasure working with what I’ve got? That’s its own sort of sartorial challenge, right? I confess I was tempted by Nicole’s challenge, wearing the same dress for 100 days, but when I went to the website that sells the wool dresses connected to the challenge, I somehow ended up with three different styles and colours in my cart. I don’t think moderation is the path for me here!

Why blog about this here?

Well, mental health is health and we write about well-being broadly construed here on the blog. I like Mina’s description of making room in her head for thoughts other than shopping. Also, there are some fitness implications. See exceptions below! Most importantly thought putting it out here makes it real, makes it more likely that I will stick with it. I’m also taking all shopping apps off my phone. Do you have any other advice to make this easier? Wish me luck!

Any exceptions?

I will make exceptions–say if my cycling shoes break–or if I need a new pair of cycling shorts. I’ve been shopping for a new non-underwire bra for work clothes and while I am hoping to snag one before the 1st of July. If I don’t, then that too will be an exception. I am not putting off the challenge for the sake of finding a decent bra.

A cute cat waving goodbye

Goodbye Luc Fontaine, goodbye Lesley Evers, goodbye Fluevog and Poshmark too (used clothes are still clothes…)!

Sam’s #OOTD Instagram
More #OOTD instagram
challenge · fitness

On Challenges

I’ve been thinking about challenges lately. The kind we encounter, yes, but also the kind of challenges we issue ourselves or the ones issued by others that we choose to take up. In the fitness world there is no shortage of challenges available – do x activity for y days, run/ride/move xx miles in yy amount of time, etc.

When I learn about a challenge that gets my interest I often have good intentions. I’m a planner and a procrastinator, so give me an opportunity to create a “challenge plan” in my calendar or excel spreadsheet and I’m a happy human. My enthusiasm for these types of challenges often wanes quickly once I’ve finished mapping it out though. I do best with more flexible challenges where I get to do different activities, but I think the bottom line is that I don’t really like to be told what to do or what I “should” be doing. I also do better with long-term challenges where I can take a (sometimes lengthy) break and still reach my goal.

June calendar showing dates 22 through 26
June calendar showing dates 22 through 26. Photo by Behnam Norouzi on Unsplash

I recently learned that Robin Arzon, a Peloton fitness instructor, posted a “31 day challenge” to move 30 minutes every day in June. Honestly, what caught my attention about this is that there are only 30 days in June… Admittedly, I did not see her original post and received 2nd hand information about it, but when I looked it up I noted that it did extend into July 1 to get that final day in there. I’ve been looking for something to “motivate” me to move a bit more, having just wrapped up a busy season at work and coming back from a short vacation where I noticed my energy level and willingness to explore on foot were both flagging. Figuring if Robin can stretch into the next month I could just go ahead and start on May 31, I jumped right in with a bike ride and yoga class. I was enthusiastic. I was excited. And then came day 2. I didn’t sleep well. It was rainy. My house is under construction and the noise is deafening. My dogs are a nervous mess because of the noise. By 2pm the workers had called it on account of the weather and the dogs and I were in a napping heap on the couch.

Amy’s two dogs resting on a gray couch with gray blankets. One dog is brown with an orange collar, the other dog is white with lots of black spots.

I could have let myself feel guilty about that decision. In actuality, I did have a small twinge of guilt. But I’ve been doing a lot of work on my internal monologue about listening to my body without letting thoughts about what I “should” be doing overtake what I need in a given situation. I know I can push through and do a 30 min tired, cranky workout but it may make me enjoy movement less (and resist it more) the next time if I don’t listen to what my body is really saying.

Looking at my journal I note that I have several “challenges” that I am tracking for the year. I’m part of the FIFI “222 in 2022” group and I’ve set a personal bike mileage goal for the year. I have also challenged myself to meditate daily and to read more books this year than last. I’m trying to get a research manuscript off to the publisher by year’s end, and dang if that isn’t both a challenge and challenging!

I know my success rate at challenges is often influenced by how challenging life is throughout the duration and I try to stay attuned to the rhythms and cycles of my schedule. I try to be compassionate with myself and to examine why I wasn’t able to complete a challenge from a neutral place, not from one of “failure” or good/bad judgements.

As for today, I write this on day 3 of my (and Robin’s) 30 in 31 challenge. I have the energy and the time to work some movement in while the pups and I retreat from the noise and mess in our upstairs cocoon. As for the rest of the month, we’ll see how the challenge and the challenges fare.

Amy Smith is a professor of Media & Communication and a communication consultant who lives north of Boston. Her research interests include gender communication and community building. Amy spends her movement time riding the basement bicycle to nowhere, walking her two dogs, and waiting for it to get warm enough for outdoor swimming in New England.

challenge · fitness · Guest Post · walking

Walking with the Conqueror Challenge (Guest Post)

By Kirsten

Greetings!  Your intrepid, approaching 50, woman is back to share her journey to fitness and hopefully inspire both herself and maybe you too!

The pandemic has been hard – we’ve all suffered mentally, emotionally, physically.  The winter(s) were especially brutal if, like me, you dislike having to put on 17 layers to just go outside and don’t have indoor exercise equipment.  Alas, I digress.   Now, onto why I’m really here…

There’s this “new” exercise fad that all the “exercise gurus” on social media say, especially for middle aged/peri/menopausal women (like me!) is way better than hours at the gym or HIIT, etc.  Of course, in reality it’s not new at all. We as a species have been doing this exercise for at least a couple  of millenia now.  What is this, you wonder?   WALKING!  Wild, amiright? 

In April of this year I was working from home and still had primary possession of Giselle. See her photo at the end of this post.

I happened to come across this advertisement on social media that was called The Conquerer Challenge.  I investigated and did some research.   The company behind this challenge has put (I’m sure) thousands of hours of work into it. 

The concept is simple, Sign up on the website, select your challenge, download the app to your phone, and off you go on your adventure!  There’s  so much more to it though – it’s an international community of incredibly supportive people, all on a fitness journey who are challenging themselves and others to be more active.  And when one warrior falls (walking buddies, such as my Giselle, or an unexpected physical ailment – damn knees!) everyone rallies to support and motivate!

In April I started a 75km trek from Cairo, Egypt to the Great Pyramids in Giza.   I paid the company about $30.  My google fit app is paired with the Counquerer Challenge app on my phone and every night my km’s are uploaded and my journey is logged. (You can manually log distance as well. For example, I log 1km for every hour of archery I do and the app provides a conversion chart for other movement activities, from rowing to housekeeping) For every 20% you complete, the company plants a tree.  Along the route you receive random virtual postcards with details of the part of the journey you’re on. 

It took me almost 3 months and I completed my first challenge!  What a ride!  It was very encouraging to see how much progress I made on a daily basis and to see my completion percentage and the amount of time it took.  You choose how long you have to complete the challenge, so it really is a self challenge more than anything.  At the end you get an actual medal in the mail with a completion certificate and the distance on the medal.  I am onto my second challenge and am climbing Mt. Fuji.  It’s another 75km trek because I’m still working up the courage to do a longer walk (Niagara Falls 113km for example, or the Great Wall of China at 259.1km). 

The idea of fitness for me is about attaining optimal health.  Walking is truly one of the most accessible forms of exercise out there and if done in proper supportive shoes, is so incredibly easy on the body (well, on my round body, yours may be different) and it can be a great social activity.  Find a friend and create a team and do a challenge together!  It’s amazing how fast the km’s add up and it’s exhilarating to say – I walked 20km this week.  Sure, some people will walk 20km in one day but each person’s journey is their own and cannot be compared to anyone else’s.  Walking has so many other benefits; fresh air and vitamin D, you can explore new to you places in your city/town, you can spend quality time with your pet, your quality of sleep improves and best of all – IT’S FREE!!!. It takes relatively little energy and you will find in time that you WANT to go out.  If for no other reason to see where you are on your journey every day. At the end you can say  – look what I accomplished!

I have found that I tire the dog out when we go for more than 2 km at a time (she’s not that big really) and I’m about to start a full time in person office job, so my frequent daily walks will be reduced.  It’s your journey, walking will also help your mental health and the movement and sunlight will help decrease/eliminate any depression or anxiety you may be going through.  It can be a great meditative time and you will find as you progress that you are walking a bit faster and covering more distance in a shorter period of time. You can catch up on the newest music, listen to your favourite Podcast, listen to a book.  

Who knows, one day when you get to the Great Wall of China you can say, I’ve walked this and it only took me x number of days!  I’m a Conquerer!  I hope you decide to start a walking journey of your own (and I seriously can’t recommend it enough), so far since April and as of writing this, I’ve covered 93.1km (that doesn’t include today’s kms  yet).  I’m so proud of myself – as a lifelong non active person, this has been such a motivating, enjoyable and rewarding experience!   If you’re in the Kingston area and want to start a walking group – hit me up!  I’d love to walk with you and share a journey!    

Giselle

Kirsten (aka Kiki) is a woman approaching 50 who has struggled with exercise her entire life. She lives in Kingston with her 2 cats and occasionally a Shar Pei named Giselle. She is currently taking archery lessons and hopes to start curling again this year. Kirsten is also an active participant in a virtual distance challenge and is currently walking from Cairo to the Pyramids at Giza.

challenge · cycling · fitness · traveling

Five Decisions that Shaped a First Cycling Trip

Early in the year, my friend invited me to cycle a 132-km rail trail in western Ontario known as the “G2G Trail” (Guelph to Goderich, which Sam has blogged about before) over the May long weekend. I said yes, though I hadn’t cycled seriously since summer bike tag with the neighbourhood kids over 30 years ago.

Thus began a series of decisions during a challenging but adventure-filled two-day cycling trip.

Decision 1: Get advice and follow it

Elan’s bike, Zoë, with much cycling gear gifted and borrowed.

From reading online articles about cycle touring I discovered water camelbaks. Where I got my bike tuned up I learned about comfortable saddle heights. I followed advice from fellow FIFI blogger FieldPoppy to spin at the gym in advance. Thanks to suggestions from friends, I purchased my first pair of shammy shorts and found myself unpacking and re-packing my gear 3 days ahead.

Result: Much gear and preparation that reduced my uncertainty somewhat.

Decision 2: Buy into shared optimism

Cheery friends, and our mascot, Hammy.

We all knew it was going to rain. The weather report had not shifted all week long. But the sun was shining hopefully when we set out from Guelph. Wearing all my gear, I looked like I knew what I was doing. At every kilometre sign, one friend did a fist pump and whooped with excitement. “Will she do that the whole way?” I asked another in our group. “Yeah, probably,” was the reply.

Result: Sponging up the eager optimism of my more experienced cycling companions, I gained confidence that all would go well on the trip.

Decision 3: Weather the storms

Very Wet Elan.

That’s not just a metaphor–there was a real storm. On our first break, while happily dangling our feet over a stream flowing under a bridge, we started getting texts and calls from friends, warning us about the bad storm that had already struck town. Trees down, power out. Yet, high on optimism and snacks, we headed back out on the trail towards the quickly darkening sky.

Water flowing on the trail.

Half an hour later, the storm hit us fully. The rain and hail that pelted our skin felt like glass. We were thrown off our bikes by the wind, and rushing water drowned the shale path. We had no time to find shelter as we were crossing a long, wide pasture area, so we took as much cover as we could behind a tiny tree. Since we were already soaked, we sat in the grass and had a beverage.

Result: When you can’t change something, go as far as you can go and then stop.

Decision 4: Get past the counting mindset

Do not ask when the buttertarts will come, yet be assured that they will sometime arrive.

Trail signs tell you how far you have gone, apps describe how fast you are going, watches share how long you’ve been going for, and digital maps show how far you still have to go. For me, counting minutes and miles was making the journey feel much, much longer, so I stopped. And when it no longer mattered the time or kms it took to get to where we were going (such as the Mennonite grocery store for fresh butter tarts), our destinations came a lot sooner.

Result: When my brain emptied of countdowns, it filled with good ideas, meditations on my work and my life, and thoughts of gratitude for the trip.

Decision 5: Feeling every moment, with friends

Kind trail stewards make available pay-to-take provisions for trail users.

There were some great-feeling moments: seeing two fuzzy fox kits, discovering coolers of drinks placed by trail stewards, finally catching sight of our Milbank B&B after a long day of riding in the rain. I cheered when a sore pulse in my right quad muscle suddenly went away. On a downward grade I stopped pedalling and, looking up, was thrilled by the trees tops rushing above me.

A relatively dry part of the trail. Not pictured: much wind.

There were also not-great-feeling moments: being cold, wet, and tired; annoyed at the ever-blowing headwind; frustrated by the muddy trail that slowed us down to a crawl. But by being fully present during those moments, and feeling supported by my friends, I stayed aware of what was going for me and those who helped me to get to where I was.

Result I: My group’s present-mindedness led us to appreciate all we had achieved together over two days of hard cycling. And our achievement let us be satisfied with ending our trip a little sooner than planned so that we could celebrate with warm pizza and cold drinks at a local craft brewery.

Result II: Me thinking about when my next cycle tour will happen.

Friends celebrating the end of a great cycling trip.
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