Saturday, May 11, 2013
I was alerted to this challenge by my employers at Knapp's Cyclery. They explained that the goal was to ride 1,319 kilometers (818 miles) in the month of April. This would represent the cumulative distance of the five professional bike races taking place in Europe during this same time period. Right off I stated that I would likely log 500 more miles in April than the challenge called for. It seemed like a fun idea to sign up. When I logged on to the Strava site I was awestruck to see that there were 28,000 riders participating in the month long challenge.
On April 1st I begin downloading my Garmin 800 to Strava at the end of each day of riding. I noticed that the participants were ranked by the total number of kilometers ridden. This added a competitive element above and beyond the initial goal. After three days I was ranked 145th out of all the riders. I was surprised to see that participants were from all over the world, the current leader residing in Australia. The United States had 9,000 riders of which I was ranked 45th. With my competitive nature kicking in I began plotting how I would get in extra distance to move my number up. I started adding more miles to my commuting by riding more circuitous routes, averaging fifty miles per day on work days. I would shoot for one-hundred or more on my days off. I rode in this manner for the first eleven days of April before my body demanded a rest day.
As the month went on I sort of adapted to the increase, which was one-hundred miles per-week more than my normal. The average went from 300 hundred to 400 hundred weekly just like that. I was feeling pretty tired most of the time, but I had learned how to cope with it. Deep down I was afraid of getting sick or injured. When I rode over a bump and felt my calve muscle knot up I thought that would be it. Miraculously, by virtue of icing it twice a day and wearing compression socks when off the bike it steadily improved without rest.
Besides the Strava challenge I had other things planned for the month like the hilly Lake Nockamixon 200k and the vertically challenging Princeton 300k. In a pure mileage contest heavy climbing is a dumb idea, but if I had any sense I wouldn't be riding a fixed-gear. I did every ride as planned.
The final week was the hardest. I needed two rest days, but still kept the same average daily miles. The final day of the month I rode just thirty-two miles to bring my total for April to 1703 miles. I finished the challenge in 49th place, world-wide, and 16th in the United States. Not too bad for a fixie.