The Rewards and Challenges of #30DaysofBiking
By: Judy McDowell
April 01, 2019
It began with a simple challenge and a pretty cold day. Earlier in the week, I was scrolling through social media and happened to see the hashtag #30daysofbiking. It was the end of the cross-country skiing season, and I was itching to get out on my bike. Thirty Days of Biking seemed like a great way to jumpstart the season.
What Is 30 Days of Biking?
Through a little bit of research, I learned that 30 Days of Biking is a challenge for bicyclists to get out on their bikes every day during the month of April. Participants are encouraged to post pictures and videos of their rides on social media with the hashtag #30daysofbiking. Any bike and any distance counts, which means that a stationary bike during a blizzard is OK. Should be easy, right?
My Experience: Blizzards, Bakeries and…. Biking!
I made a spontaneous commitment on the morning of April 1, 2018, not really knowing what was to come. Here’s a little bit of what I experienced:
DAY1: I rode 5 miles in 24 degrees.
I roped my husband into the adventure first thing in the morning. We biked around our block out in the west metro. I wore every bit of my cross-country ski clothing (ski pants, long underwear, buff, hat, and ski mitts) to stay warm. My daughter commented on my post saying “You guys are crazy and I love it!”
DAY 3: A snowstorm dumped 6 inches of snow on the metro.
Nevertheless, I jumped on the bike, rode down the driveway and promptly fell to the ground; a slip of the back wheel threw me into the ditch. “Any bike, any distance,” I remember thinking. My next thought was, “I definitely need a fatbike.”
DAY 12: I was starting to love these early morning rides.
The sun was up, the gravel (read “muddy”) roads around our home were still cold and firm, which makes for easy riding. I also realized that it’s a short ride into our town to the coffee shop for breakfast, which makes for a great start to the day.
DAY 14: Another storm was on the way.
Inspired by the snow, the challenge, and the need to get a ride in, my husband said, “We really need to make a video of this.” We did it all – the ride and the video – then spent the rest of the day inside. But hey, I got my biking in!
DAY 15: Halfway through the month.
With all the snow, it was a little hard to move the bike. I walked it up the driveway and then rode it back down again. Then I helped clear the foot of snow so we could actually go somewhere.
DAY 22: I completed my longest bike ride yet – 12 miles.
We took the regional trails from the Hopkins Depot to a bakery for dark roast coffee and a really divine egg sandwich. I was learning how easy it is to ride to the places I love – the library, the great little café in town, the local brewery, the ice cream shop. (Yeah, it wasn’t open yet, but now I knew how easy it would be to get there by bike this summer.)
DAY 24: The Dakota Rail Regional Trail was snow free.
Lake Minnetonka was still iced in. With all the regional trails now open, my biking world opened up to me. I started studying maps and making big plans for summer.
DAY 30: The last day!
I celebrated by riding to the local drive-in via regional trail, of course. I enjoyed a burger and a raspberry shake and congratulated myself for biking every day in April, making a bunch of online friends, and sharing my love of biking through social media.
That was my month of biking every day – and perhaps my best month of biking ever – but the fun was just beginning. With the great jumpstart, here’s how the rest of the season turned out:
- I set a biking goal of 1,500 miles. That’s pretty attainable, I know, but it was enough of a challenge that I needed to get out most days of the week to achieve it. Ultimately, I rode close to 1,600 miles from April through October.
- I tried bike commuting for the first time. Luckily, my route (18 miles one way) is mostly on regional and local trails. During the summer, my goal was to commute once per week, and I mostly reached that goal. More importantly, on the days I commuted, I arrived at the office in morning with lots of energy and arrived at home fully de-stressed after the work day – a win-win in both directions.
- I made a point to experience every regional trail in the Three Rivers system. If you haven’t tried them yet, you’ll need to take my word that these trails are fantastic off-road routes that offer great scenery while leading you where you need to go, whether that’s work, play, or food (my favorite destination). My favorites are:
- Dakota Rail Regional Trail – This trail provides a great ride along Lake Minnetonka. Nothing beats this on a summer day when the sail boats are out and the lake is a deep blue. Ride from Wayzata all the way to St. Boni. For a bigger adventure, take the trail into Carver County along Lake Waconia and all the way to Mayer.
- Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail – The newest of Three Rivers’ regional trails, this route includes 1.7 miles of wooden boardwalk over wetlands and through woodlands. It’s a treat to ride, even if you have no destination in mind.
- Medicine Lake Regional Trail – Save this one for a day when you have plenty of time as this trail allows you to bike all the way from French Regional Park to Elm Creek Park Reserve. Once you reach Elm Creek, there are an additional 20 miles of paved trail right in the park – spectacular!
Are You Up for the Challenge?
30 Days of Biking is open to all, whether you are a road biking speedster or a complete novice. People from all over the world participate, so you will see posts from bike enthusiasts in China and Italy as well as the next town over. You can find info about the challenge and make your pledge today. But, don’t delay – it starts today!
In addition to the benefits I mentioned above, the challenge is a great way to socialize on bikes. Events are listed on the website and provide a nice way to meet up with others for a group ride. Rides start at bakeries, breweries, bike shops and more. What could be better?
Finally, what does all this mean for my 2019 plans? Of course, I am starting the 30 Days of Biking challenge today. After that, I plan to up my goal to 2,000 miles over the biking season, commute two days a week, and build in a bike camping experience as well. Sounds ambitious, but I am betting that I can do it. Oh, and by the way, my husband gave me a fatbike for my birthday so now I have no excuses, even during the blizzards to come!
See you on the trails!
About the Author
Judy McDowell is the Community Engagement Manager for Three Rivers, overseeing the park systems outreach to underrepresented populations as well as Donor Relations and Volunteer Resources. She has worked for the park system for over 30 years. She’s also been biking for a long time, with her claim to fame being a year-long bike trip that she and her husband Tom took through Tahiti and French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia, way back in the late 1980s. Besides biking, Judy loves to camp, cross-country ski, read classic literature with her family book club, and spend hours crafting in her studio.
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