Not every day, surely?
Yes every day. Just not all the time. But not for ever, just for a bit. It could be a bite-sized chunk, say 7 days, two weeks, or perhaps a month or even longer. Change up from the 3 rides in the week and one or two on the weekend to a ride every day, day after day after day.
You may be thinking ‘Well I commute every day so that’s close,” but I’m not talking about commuting. I’m talking about setting a goal, getting out of your comfort zone, making it a somewhat extended slog that will take you and your backside to places never before pedalled. Not literally, that may just about be impossible on this well-ridden planet, but more figuratively, more – forgive me for this – transcendentally.
If you’ve got 90 minutes a day in the week to ride, do 90 for the 5 days. Aim for a longer social ride on one weekend day and a shorter one on the other. Or, aim for 300km a week over the 7 days. Or 45 minutes a day for 30 days. Whatever it is, set it, and get it done.
Everyone can benefit from taking on such a challenge, unless you’re in the process of getting ready for a major one day race or a multi-day event, and even then, taking on a ride-a-day challenge, so long as it is far enough out from your event, will still be beneficial.
How so? Well, I did just this, 100km a day for 30 days, and here’s what I found.
- BURN FAT
It’s very difficult to ride so consistently at a high speed or at high watts. You’ll generally settle into somewhere around Zone 2 which is around 60-75% of your FTP. To burn fat the body needs lots of oxygen, which is why at this effort level you’ll more of it than at a higher workload.
2. EAT BETTER
Riding daily and achieving the goal you set means you’ll need to do all you can not just on the bike but also off it too, to ensure you’re at your best. Eat better and you’ll feel better off the bike also, and an improvement in the foods you eat (more veg, fruit, better carbs) will help improve the efficiency and overall functioning of your immune system. Eating well also can help cut down inflammation for better joint health.
3. SLEEP BETTER
More sustained effort daily means more fatigue, meaning you’ll require better sleep. Better remember does not necessarily mean longer, but deeper.
4. DRINK LESS ALCOHOL
As with the food, you should at the least feel the desire to cut down on the booze. One rough day in a 14 or 21 day challenge and you’ll not want to repeat that… trust me!
5. BECOME A NICER PERSON
Exercise releases endorphines, dopamine and bunch of other good stuff that releases tension and stress and makes you not just feel good in yourself but also more agreeable to be around. The very act of getting outside (studies show that even just a 5 minute stroll can bring amazing benefits) brings sunlight onto the skin and into the eyes which has a positive reductive effect on the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls anxiety. Wouldn’t you like a nicer you? Imagine that!
6. INCREASE MITOCHONDRIA & UTILISE YOUR LACTIC ACID
The kind of Steady Eddie riding you’ll likely be doing on a multi-day challenge (Zone 2) increases mitochondrial density as well as MCT-1 transporters.in the blood. Mitochondria are key components of skeletal muscles, providing energy for almost every muscle cell and MCT-1 transporters flush lactic acid to mitochondria where it is used as energy.
7. INCREASE PEDALLING EFFICIENCY & IMPROVE FORM
During a challenge such as this, you’ll be looking to get each day’s ride over as efficiently as possible. You’ll want to take care of the saddle pain as well as you can. You’ll want to strain the legs as little as possible and to get through a ride feeling relaxed, not bunched up and stressed from gripping the bars too tight or straining your upper body with each pedal push. This will encourage you to really focus on your pedalling motion and upper body form. Riding every day kind of re-sets your form in a very positive way.
8. FALL IN LOVE WITH THE BIKE ALL OVER AGAIN
Go, reconnect with your love. Let the bike move you as you move it. Remember why you fell in love with cycling again the first place.
9. F&$K STRAVA!
Forget all those KOM points, forget the numbers, sit, pedal, smile and repeat! Riding every day, you get into this beautiful space where you’re giving the body and the mind a chance to commune, to get into the flow. This is partly because you’ll not be riding fast, and it’s also because the repetition not just of the pedalling motion but also of the days, one after another, can get you close to that transcendental space, where maybe for just 5, 10 or, if you’re lucky, 20 minutes you’ll almost stop thinking, and just be in the moment. Bliss.
10. CREATE HEALTHY BLUEPRINTS
Once you’ve finished your ride-every-day challenge, you may slip back into old habits.Two glasses of wine of an eve, too much junk food, not enough sleep. Yet what this kind of challenge can show you is a way to get back to feeling good. You’ll know that less beer means better sleep, eating right means better recovery, more water in the day leads to better skin, and riding more often just makes you feel damn good! These are your blueprints and can serve as great anchors.
I recently took on just such a challenge, back in November 2021, for the men’s health awareness charity Movember. Without really giving it much thought, I decided I’d ride 100km a day every day for 30 days.
3,000km in a month.
I posted the news on my FB page. A friend messaged me almost immediately.
‘Seriously? That’s ridiculous.’
Then a coaching client I’ve known for years Watsapped.
‘What?! You’re always telling me that rest is as important as training!’
Then another friend, a strong, determined guy, called me.
‘I tried this a few years back, got to day 19 and quit. Good luck!’
In the preceding 10 months put together I hadn’t ridden more than 3,000km. I was on something like 2780km from January 1st to end of October. I have osteoarthritis in both knees, the left the worse of the two, and I’d been suffering from a bulging disc that kept me off the bike from April to the beginning of June and then again all through August.
You can see that clearly from my Strava log for 2021.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have rushed into this thing. But it was on Facebook by this point so the ego demanded I get it done…
Days 1 to 3 flew by. The weather was great, I was sleeping well, was off the lovely Belgian beers, eating pretty well too, and the weather here in Taipei then was clement. The problem though was that I was trying to get an average of 30km/hr for each ride, chasing lycra-clad prey on the path ahead and pushing too hard. This is not a good idea when you have 27 or so more rides ahead of you.
One aspect though from those early days was that there was this effervescent joy to the riding. It’d been so long since I’d done a one day 100km ride and here I’d done three, and felt great. Then days 4 through 8, that was a different story. The legs hurt, the neck hurt and goshdarn did my arse hurt.
The weather had turned too. Grey skies which though thankfully light on wind were loaded with some serious winds. But then something happened. The pain in the body subsided. No longer was I fighting the wind, which was still roaring, but instead I was working with it. I wasn’t fighting the bike, rather I felt moulded to it. I’d stopped looking to get to the end and instead I was just in it, on it, being there.
Here’s a video from my Youtube channel documenting the rides.
Friends I hadn’t in weeks if not months joined me for rides. Others pitched up whom I’d never met before, they just got in touch and we arranged a time and off we went. I had some great conversations too. They asked me why I was doing this for Movember. I explained that when I was younger I’d experienced depression and had kept it bottled up. The worst passed but I wanted to support a movement that encourages men to talk about their emotions.
Also, the bike had rescued me on many an occasion and was always there to offer me, if not an escape route, then a diversion for one, two, three or five hours.
Lo and behold, these guys opened up then to me, and I listened, and then they listened, we maybe drank a coffee or chewed on an energy bar, we almost always ended up smiling and I realised that it was the bike, first and foremost, that brought us all together.
The 1000km mark came and went, then the 1500km point, then the 2000km marker and I knew I’d be getting this done. My legs had become like mahogany, hard as heck, if not tanned! I was getting lean too, losing the love handles I’d had since I stopped racing in 2016.
I had one bad day when I almost gave up though. Day 22. I left the bike ride til late afternoon then fell asleep on the sofa. When I awoke at 7pm the temperature had dropped and a storm was raging outside. I had an indoor trainer that a company had lent me to test, a prototype that didn’t work well at all. I jumped on, thinking I’d be done in just over 3 hours but not a chance – 25km felt like 35 outside.
4 hours of torment followed. I went through 8 jerseys and three pairs of shorts. I hadn’t been on a turbo since 2016 and I likely never will again after this experience. But… got it done.
After that it was pretty much plain
sailing riding. The last day I could have rode with friends but I wanted it just for me and the bike. I had joy this time too, but it wasn’t the light, sparkling kind I had when I started this challenge. It was much deeper. It’s not an overstatement to say that getting through 100km a day for 30 days changed me. It brought me back to fitness, rekindled my love for the bike and showed me that when I put my mind to something, I am going to get it done.
Did I go a bit too far into it? You could say that, and yes I did get tired at points, but it was more the mental side of things than the physical. Would I do it again? Probably not, unless I had absolutely nothing else to do, as work can suffer a bit as can cleaning the house! But 50km a day for 30? Sure. The benefits for me far outweighed the negatives.
So, I fully recommend taking up a ride a day for multiple day challenge. Give it a go, and live to tell the tale!
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