Way back at the start of August, I set myself two challenges. The first was to climb the national ‘Three Peaks’ of Britain in three weeks. I did just that, ascending to the summits of Scafell Pike, Mount Snowdon and finally Ben Nevis over three consecutive weeks in August. (Watch the short films by following the previous links or all together in one place here.) The second challenge, prompted by an email from Cancer Research UK, was to join the charity’s ‘Cycle 300‘ campaign in September, cycling 300 miles over the course of the calendar month. I’m delighted to say that today, September 30th, the electronic mileometer that is Strava counted my 300th mile and I’ve managed to raise £300 in the process. Job done! Or should that be ‘job begun‘?
It’s been an interesting few weeks…
…made up of some 24 rides ranging in length from 5 miles to 37 miles; a mixture of commutes and ‘leisure’ rides that, combined, took me over finishing line of 300.
Now I know there are plenty of people out there who regularly cycle 300 miles every month. I dare say a few of you cycle 300 miles a week, especially if you are currently on a long trip. I must have averaged well over 300 miles per week on my own long cycle journeys across the continent and here in the UK. But, as I pointed out in the reflective piece about marginal gains last week, I’ve never really been a ‘leisure’ / ‘weekend’ cyclist. For me it has either been very long trip cycling or regular commuting. I’ve only occasionally headed out on the bike at the weekend for spin so the incentive of ‘Cycle 300’ for Cancer Research has opened my eyes to a regular mixture of commuting and weekend cycling and I have to say, I’m a convert.
Here’s the Strava chart of my rides throughout September:
The first thing you might notice is that the longer ‘weekend’ riding didn’t always take place at the weekend. This is a reflection of my work pattern mixing supply teaching and a rather flexible job in an arts centre where I usually don’t have to commit to specific days at work.
What you can’t however see on the chart is the terrain. The western side of West Yorkshire is about as hilly as they come and sometimes clocking up just 30 or 40 miles can be a strenuous workout. Not that I’m complaining. The Cancer Research ‘Cycle 300’ campaign is primarily to raise funds for the charity but there is a second reason it exists; to encourage people to become more active. It’s certainly helped me do that in September and has caused me to reflect upon a more balanced, regular commuter / leisure cycling mix when it comes to my own cycling. It’s certainly true that if I am ever to hope to cycle the length of Japan in the summer of 2020, one of the things that I need to do is regain my level of fitness. Prior to setting off on the three long rides across the continent, my work-life situation made it easy for me to regularly commute by bicycle four or five times a week. That’s not the case now when, through necessity, I am often a slave to the car. So, as the summer slower drifts into autumn, a bit more weekend ‘leisure’ cycling is not really a preference; it’s also, increasingly, a necessity…