The pulse of Awolnation’s Sail is flowing slowly, steadily and intensely through my headphones. Sweat is dripping from my brow onto my hands as I keep peddling faster despite the burning in my legs, but I hardly notice as my tires hum on the asphalt. I am experiencing flow and have tunnel vision on the hill ahead. All I can think about is tackling the hill and what is on the other side when suddenly I hear a loud snap and my right leg violently flies off the pedal.
The 30 day biking challenge originally came about because I was having trouble making it to the gym, but there were added bonuses as well. I hate the commute to work and this would be a way to forgo rush hour traffic. Could I solve all of this by simply making it a habit to ride my bike to work, meetings, and around town?
I also am always finding new ways to save money and relaying them to my clients. This challenge provided solutions I hadn’t even been looking for and there were only two rules:
1) No driving allowed in the city of Denver for 30 days.
2) Be safe.
The money saved was on more than just gas; I saved on vehicle upkeep, parking, and tickets. I help people save money every day, and although extreme, during the challenge I was practicing what I always preach.
Warren Buffet famously said that he tap dances to work. I always had trouble with this quote because even if you love your job, there is no one that loves the commute to and from work, especially when you’re dealing with Denver drivers.
By the end of the 30 day challenge I could understand where Buffet was coming from a bit more. I came to truly enjoy the serenity and Zen of getting to and from work. Biking relaxed my mind and I was able to come up with some of my best ideas and brainstorms during my commute.
Every day was granted a positive start, no matter what was in the calendar. Plus the ride home was also a chance for me to clear my mind; I arrived home without any baggage from the workday.
Biking is an all-around very healthy thing to do, without the wear and tear on your body and joints that can come from weightlifting or running. With minimal effort I was active and burned calories throughout the day.
To keep the challenge accurate and simple I used MapMyRide, a free iPhone app that tracks miles, time, calories, and routes, among many other things.
Here you can see the tracking from a few weeks in:
My bike is what I would consider ‘garage sale quality’ (see below), so I wasn’t necessarily expecting smooth sailing throughout the challenge, but overall riding was much easier than I had anticipated. Fortunately Denver is full of great bike paths and bike routes that take you wherever you need to go.
1) The biking challenge certainly cost me some extra time in commuting, although not as much as I had predicted. Biking around the city of Denver is often just as fast as driving if not faster.
2) I broke, and therefore had to replace parts that cost more than I had expected, including a stem for the handle bars – $25, a pedal – $27 and a tire – $32 with a grand total of $84 spent on the bike.
I spent around 14 hours on the bike, which took me 184 miles and burned around 7,878 calories* which is equal to 2.25 pounds of body fat. My car gets 20 miles a gallon, so I saved 9.2 gallons of gas and decreased my carbon footprint by stopping 180.7 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the air**.
I saved about $72.50 on gas and parking with gas prices at $3.50, but spent $84 on bike repairs and came out spending an extra $11.50. Although I did not save money this month, as I continue to ride my bike I will start to save as repairs have already been made.
Most importantly I felt better and over time learned to focus on deep thinking and meditation during the ride.
As my pedal snapped at the beginning of this article, and my foot flew off my bike, I did not panic. I gently tilted and corrected, and rode the rest of the way with no pedal. I did not stress or worry, as I would have done if something would have happened to my car. Instead I kept my focus on the hill and the ride.
The challenge shows that making small changes in your life can lead to various large impacts. When you make a positive change in one area of your life, it bleeds into other areas and inherently your life is improved. On the flip side bad decisions and behavior have the same affect; this is where the phrase ‘downward spiral’ comes from. Unfortunately the phrase ‘upward spiral’ is not commonly used, but it does exist.
Our lives are the sum of every choice that we’ve made, and by deliberately making choices that have positive impacts we can shape our lives to be healthier, happier and richer.
Because of the 30 day biking challenge I will be a bike riding regular and will continue to ride my bike to work and meetings every day that time allows.
*Calories are estimated and are a mixture of calculations from MapMyRide, and a formula written by Dr. Edward Coyle of the University of Texas who has worked with athletes to measure their calorie burn rate while biking.
** Calculated using U.S. Energy Information Administration calculation: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=307&t=11