By Threes – the story so far

January 26, 2014

Back on Jan 3, I posted my fitness-related new year’s resolutions. One of them was:

Ride bike at LEAST 3 miles/day, every day. Indoor stationary bike if circumstances dictate, but outside if at all possible.

Now, I’ll excuse myself here on an (admittedly weak) technicality. I didn’t say this streak would start ON January 3rd 🙂 Ok, it was implied, and yes it was intended, but – it wasn’t long before I faltered.

However, now I am determined to build up this streak. Three miles isn’t a LONG way to ride a bike; and, if that’s all I ever did, I wouldn’t have logged much saddle time or mileage; but, there is nobility and respectability in sticking to at LEAST that minimum every single day. I view it like a kind of daily devotional to my determination to become fit. Even through periods of poor eating, little other exercise (both of which have certainly occurred in the young 2014), this WILL be a constant, something to tether me back to my goals.

I’m currently on day 5 of this streak, that is, having successfully done it 5 days now. Nascent, yes. Impressive enough to write home about, no. But it’s the beginning.

I like the idea of blogging – at least very briefly – about each of the rides. One of the driving ideas behind this blog is to capture my thoughts, my ride reports, my experiences in order to preserve them for future reflection; and, since beginning this “By Threes” undertaking, I’ve been pleasantly surprised just how much “stuff” mentally goes on in a three mile ride. At least for me – and who knows if I am typical 🙂

It’ll be really tough to make a point to make a brief post every single day, but it’s my intention to try to do so as much as feasible.

Very briefly then, to catch up:

Day 1: Tues 1/21/2014. Rode 3.2 miles before leaving for work. EXTREMELY cold this day. I seem to recall the “nominal” temp was something like 8 degrees and the windchill was around 8 below. I rode from my house to the local (Forest) Park, once around the nearly-mile loop there, and back. My first day with my new earphones, which I bought recently from WM specifically for cycling. I can’t be bothered right now to go look up the brand, but I like them a lot. They have a nice “loop” for each ear that works well to keep the earbud in your ear. I’ve ridden now a couple times in some pretty good wind – 15-20 mph or so – without any issue with the earbuds. Not a ton else to report about this ride except that I’m glad I started the “By Threes” undertaking.

Day 2: Weds 1/22/2014. Another very cold day – only a few degrees warmer than yesterday (so, windchill was around zero, maybe a little above or below). Also headed out before work; this time I rode to the park, around, and then to the gym, where I lifted. This was my first time at the gym in I-don’t-want-to-say. Logistically, a morning ride to the gym is now more involved than it was last year, due to my clipless pedals. So I ride with the cleated shoes, and on my back a backpack with my weightlifting journal and regular sneakers; upon arrival at the gym I change shoes, lift, and then change back to head out. Lady at the gym whom I’ve seen & spoken with many times there asked me if I’d ridden my bike there this morning. I was proud to tell her I had 🙂  One notable “evolutionary” note:  today was the first time I’d started pedaling without first clipping in.  Prior to this, spooked by the pedals, I insisted on clipping in the right foot, then starting to pedal and clipping in the other. This morning I felt confident enough to start pedaling and clip in “on the fly” and I’ve not looked back since.

Day 3: Thurs 1/23/2014. 3.5 meandering miles today. I’d brought the bike to work with me, with helmet and shoes in tow, intending to ride to Chipotle for lunch and back. This was one of the coldest days of the year thus far – at lunchtime, the outside temp was around 6 degrees, with a windchill of well below zero. I did in fact set out on the bike, but, being not yet fully comfortable with the pedals (and specifically stopping/starting quickly, as I’d have to do a few times on the way to Chipotle) I ended up meandering around a circuitous route in order to get there. After I’d put in a good maybe half mile or more without having really left the confines of my office’s campus (!), I realized, “Hey, I could practically just circle the campus once more now, and ride back to the parking garage, and that’ll be 3 miles.” So that’s what I did. I definitely have some work to do to recover the cycling shape I had last year, as the little rises in the campus – combined with a fairly stiff wind – left me huffing and puffing. I made it back to the garage extremely cold and glad to amble back in to order lunch from our in-office food court.

Day 4: Fri 1/24/2014. 4.3 miles today. After dinner at Chipotle, I drove over to close to my friend Mr. V’s house. I rode south on Lamar onto the trail that he and I have oft-times ridden; and at about 2 miles in I turned back for the return. One thing I’ll note: while I’m still getting acclimated to the new pedals/shoes, they seem VERY solid for climbing, at least for small inclines. I’ve yet to ride any respectable hills with these, but rises in pavement – including a little run-up on Lamar that Mr. V and I always hate because it comes right at the end of our rides together, when we are most tired – are a LOT more efficient now than with platform pedals and tennis shoes. Riding style up inclines varies, of course, with terrain – you treat small pitches upward differently than long, climbing grades. Thus far I’ve done a few of the former, and only minimal of the latter; but on the former, I can quickly engage some power and blast up little rises much better than in days of yore. And this is while still overweight (even relative to last year) and out of shape. I really look forward to experiencing these things when my fitness is sufficient to do them credit.  Another thing I’ll note is that it was either on this ride (I think) or possibly the ride before, where I developed what may become my eventual style for unclipping.  It’s still something I am working out, but my new style is to slightly swivel my hips a certain way, unclip the right, and then unclip the left.  I’m working to make this motion muscle-memory-automatic as I slow to a stop.

Day 5: Sat 1/25/2014. Nearly let the day slip by without getting in my base 3 miles. I caught a quick nap in the evening, then got online to check out the announcement of the 2014 RAGBRAI route (about which, more later). At about 11:40ish PM I saddled up for a quick ride to the park, loop and back. Today is the first day in some time that I had some flashes of the joy I had in 2013 on the bike. It wasn’t BLISTERINGLY cold, so I could dress more normally – leggings, shorts, long sleeve shirt, and regular full fingered cycling gloves as opposed to bulky wintery gloves and blue jeans, as I’ve ridden in a couple times this week. I felt really at home on the bike in these threads, and with the earlier-mentioned new earbuds streaming Pandora, it was like old times. I really started cutting my teeth riding the bike in the cold months – November, December 2011, then my first “real” bike (the Crosstrail) bought in January 2012. I rode avidly in the winter of 2012, and in a peculiar way, maybe the way you never forget your first love or your first car or your first house, I in some ways feel most “at home” riding when it’s cold out. Not BRUTALLY cold – I don’t enjoy that – but just crisp, cold. My ride tonight reminded me of that feeling, and I like it very much. Part of me wanted to keep riding beyond the base 3 miles, but for varying reasons I did shut it down. I’d like to get out for a longer ride soon.

So the streak stands at 5 days. A friend at work has run a minimum of one mile per day, every single day, for something like 600-700 (I don’t recall which) days. Another friend’s son, who plays the violin, is about to reach his 1000th consecutive day of practicing the instrument. I read online earlier of a cycling friend who had a streak of 104 days last year riding at least a mile. There’s respectability in streaks; a consistency. It speaks to an underlying dedication and commitment, which is something that I’m finding I need as I continue my battle to lose weight, attain much better fitness, and make my return to randonneuring.


One Response to “By Threes – the story so far”

  1. Jim Bangs said

    Bill, Having and maintaining streaks is just another way of discipline and dedication to a chosen lifestyle. When the streak gets broken because of some event in your day please don’t beat yourself up about it. Just know you will start the next one on the next day! It has become your lifestyle to carve out some time for not only exercise, but time for yourself which I have found is very, very important. My time on either my bike outside or the spin bike indoors makes me and my mind touch base with the base thoughts that are important to me. Keeps me working on the self-improvment thing!!
    Good Luck and nice job,

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