Last year, I set a challenge for myself. Well, truth be told I had been setting this challenge once a year for the last 4 or 5 years, and just never got around to doing anything about it. The challenge was to ride 1000 miles on my bicycle in a single year.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. This is not, in the scheme of things, a super noteworthy challenge. Lots of cyclists ride for 1000 miles every year, and much much more than that. But to me, it was a challenge. The years that preceded the 2018 riding year I managed to log 497 miles (2017), 635 miles (2016), and 696 miles (2015). I was actually going backwards, getting farther and farther away from my goal each time.
But then 2018 hit, and a renewed love of cycling came with it. I had been training super hard for the MS rides, and had also opened up a Westminster Group ride that turned in to a much longer weekly milage grabber than I thought. So late in August, I was riding with a few friends and watched with glee as the GPS rolled over to 1000 miles. I’d finish the year with 1,430.
So my friend David looked at me and said “What if we did 2,000 miles in 2019?”
What if indeed!
The deck is totally stacked in my favor. First of all, we agreed at the onset that indoor spin class miles would count toward our total. That’s silly. The spin bike regularly has me going faster and farther than I feel like a similar effort would do outside in the real world. But, I’ll take it. Then I added a whole bunch of events and trips, including the DC trip (256 miles all by itself) and an upcoming tour across Ohio (370 miles). If I stayed on top of my training, and just showed up to do the events I had signed up for, I should easily hit 2,000.
As of today I’m sitting pretty at 1,291 miles, good enough to be just under 300 miles ahead of pace for the goal. That’s kind of silly when you think about it. Two years prior I could only string together 497 miles in a 365 day calendar. I’m way ahead of that, and we’re not even halfway through the summer. A lot has changed.
To be sure, it helps that cycling is fun. You can get this kind of snowball effect, where the better I do the more I want to ride which makes me do better. When I wake up in the morning, I never wonder if I’m going to have to ride. I’m wondering if I’m going to get to. That’s a pretty solid deal!
But I also think it’s important to set goals that can actually challenge you. There’s a sweet spot when it comes to goals. Too easy, and you’ll either feel like you don’t need to do it or you’ll feel nothing when you actually do. Too hard, and you’ll be tempted to give up halfway through, feeling a bit like a failure along the way. You need something that you’re not sure that you can do, but that you’re willing to give it a shot.
Of course, this isn’t victory lap time. I still have 709 miles to go, and who knows what could come up between now and then. But I am feeling confident, and I am feeling like this is a goal worth chasing.
What are your goals for this year? How hard do they seem to you? And what are you doing to chase them down?