February Cycling Challenge Results

February Cycling Challenge Results

Fitness challenges serve an important purpose.  First they help the athlete focus on a specific part of their training.  Second, they provide a measurable milestone which provide feedback.  Third, if the athlete has taken the challenge seriously, it will result in improvements, regardless of whether the ultimate challenge was met.

The Challenge

A month ago I created a personal cycling challenge to help get myself moving more consistently and lose a bit of weight.  The challenge was to cycle every other day, increasing mileage as I went and cover 230 miles by March 1st, culminating with a 20 mile ride. This seemed challenging, but I knew if I could stick to it and put in the mileage, I could get close.

Reality Sets In

The first three rides were fairly easy, but aggressive.  I didn’t stick to the planned mileage, riding a mile or more than planned for the first two rides.  The third ride was a bit of a stretch and fell just short of the planned goal.  Then I started missing rides.  Two days passed before I rode again. The body was realizing and feeling how aggressive it was to go from riding 8 miles to 11+ miles in no time flat.

This was the start of riding whenever I could while not pushing my body too far. It was also difficult to get rides in during the week of the 18th when an important client was in town for a project.  While catching up to the plan was nearly impossible, I kept riding, trying to get a decent amount of miles in.  It is more important to listen to your body and skip a ride for recovery than to push too hard and injure myself.

The Results

I completed the challenge with 144.4 miles compared with the 230 planned challenge miles.  While this is only 63% of the distance, I still feel great about the challenge.  Yes, I missed the ultimate goal, but my average ride went from 8 miles to 12 miles.  I feel great and am quite happy to be spending more time on the saddle.  Time in the saddle is a spiritual place where I spend the miles brainstorming and solving problems.  The challenge was a success.

Cycling Challenge Actual vs Plan
blue bars represent actual rides with green being planned. Actual falls a bit short

Did I lose weight?  No.  Starting weight was 229.8 with the final weight at 230.6.  The change is statistically insignificant was the deviation across the month was 2+ pounds.  After all of those miles sure would have been nice to be slipping into a smaller sized short.  But at the end of the day, body weight ins’t necessarily an indicator of fitness.  I feel and look more muscular than when I started the challenge.  As an athlete works out, they build muscle, which is heavier than fat. So, a change in weight can be delayed as the body burns more fat than the muscle in builds.  A better measure would be waist and wrist size.

The Next Challenge

With March 1st nearly here, I am thinking about my next challenge.  I like the idea of doing another cycling challenge, but would also like to incorporate a dietary challenge.  Cutting flour and sugar from my diet completely worked extremely well in 2008 and 2009 during my racing best. So stay tuned…  a new challenge is coming.

2 thoughts on “February Cycling Challenge Results

  1. Great start Aric! Allow me let you in on a few secrets early on. I started out much like you. Low mileage and relatively slow – and without understanding that cycling is most definitely not running. At an average of 12 miles per ride and a high of 17 miles, you can safely jump to the 30 mile range on the two weekend days. Take 1 mph off of your usual average speed and you’ll be fine. You won’t lose much weight on short eight mile rides (that takes me about 23-24 minutes)… It’s the long rides that peel the weight off – 30+ miles or, guessing, around two hours for you.

    Also, for a two hour ride, you won’t need much in the way of food, maybe one or two gels or a power bar. As you get used to that distance, drop the food entirely – it’s not necessary for anything under two hours. Eat too much and you undo all of the good you’ve done on the bike.

    Finally, as I said before, cycling is not running. You can go every day as long as you alternate hard, easy and medium efforts (in that order, rinse – repeat) and you can increase mileage at will, usually doubling is no problem at all once your legs get used to the repeated effort, all you have to do is drop 1 mph from your average speed (this is important).

    The reason I’m sharing this with you is that cycling is a fat burning furnace if you’re putting in decent hours and giving it a decent effort… At this point, I can burn weight with impunity and it is wonderful!

    1. Thank you, Jim!! Great comment and great information!

      Everything has to start somewhere. While I have a ways to go to get back to where I was before (30+ mile rides), I can appreciate every mile and how much better I am starting to feel. I love the idea of dropping 1 mph from average.

      I rarely consume anything other than water on a ride less than 1.5 hours. For longer rides in the past, I’ve eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into cubes. For whatever reason, gels and more artificial supplements don’t work too well for me.

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