A month behind bars

What I learned by riding every day in August

During the past month of August I rode every single day. Over the 31 days I racked up miles on road bikes, gravel bikes, mountain bikes, carbon, aluminum, steel, full suspension, hardtails; about everything short of a recumbent or a tandem, which I do have but it’s in disrepair at the moment.  

What constituted a ride? That’s a good question. I didn’t set any hard and fast rules; my standards included getting my heart rate up, breaking into a good sweat, and being out for at least an hour, but typically much more depended on the day’s responsibilities. 

Outside of the duration, I had some guidelines depending on what bike I was riding. On the road I pedaled to the next town or two, on gravel I explored every dirt road I came across, and while on the mountain bike I chose to stay on the trails instead of cruising the fire roads. 

What I learned by riding 31 days straight

1. The first step was the hardest. Putting down the computer, leaving household chores and getting kitted up and out the driveway was often the hardest part. Once rolling I kept wanting to go farther from my house and deeper into the woods.   

2. I got skinny. The biggest difference was how my clothes and gear fit. My legs also got more vascular. Not freaky, body-builder veiny, but noticeable. 

3. Riding everyday made me happy. Actually happy is an understatement, I was super blissed out. My joyous attitude couldn’t be broken. Seriously, my wife’s car transmission gave up the ghost and I had a water issue come up at my house. Both are arguably major calamities, but whatever, I’m riding everyday.

4. My butt didn’t really hurt. Actually nothing did, my back ache subsided and overall I felt stronger and stronger. 

5. Everything got easier. The world seemed to shrink, honestly. Climbs weren’t as long or as challenging. Technical sections were easier to float through. Steering and weighting the bike became second nature, I could rely on autopilot. However, if I wanted I could crank it up and get the mojo quite quickly, too. 

6. It took more time for my legs to 'wake up' as the month wore on. The first 15 days went amazingly. Maybe a bit too well. After a decent gravel ride, then a group ride, the next day I woke up with aching thighs and a distinct lack of ‘pop’. It was short lived though, until near the end. 

7. New and better routes kept coming to mind. It’s said that “variety is the spice of life” and it’s true. Being on the bike daily let me figure out new loops and new ways of connecting roads and trails together. 

It wasn't all peaches and cream

8. My hands were wrecked. My hands are always calloused to some degree, but after riding every single day for 31 days straight my palms just below my fingers were torn up. Shaking hands with people was sometimes met with “dang, dude, what’s up with your hands?”

9. I hit a wall. Not literally, but around day 25 my legs felt like sausage casings filled with diarrhea. I was still going decently fast on the road and cleaning hard climbs when off-road, but it felt hard like I was pedaling in wet cement. The ache was there and the snap was gone. 

10. Oddly enough in September, after I took a day off of riding, my knees and hips began to feel sore, much more than any day in August.

Should you ride everyday for a month? 

Absolutely, positively, without question, I 100 percent recommend it.

Pick a month, maybe your birthday month, perhaps during the slow season at work, or the month with the best weather, but do it! Revel in the glorious days, push through the difficult rides, let the bike and nature teach you new things, feel the power of riding for a month straight. It will be good for you. 

What did I do on 1 September? I built up a new bike and rode it around my neighborhood. 

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