I’m going to ride my bike 1,000 miles this year. Want to ride along?
It sounds like a lot of mileage, but like anything else in life, if you break it into manageable chunks, it’s very doable. It’s so doable, in fact, that a newbie can do it. YOU can do it. I know this because I have done it before, and I started out as a total noob.
Before we do the math and figure out how you can ride a thousand miles this year, let’s start with why you might want to. Check out this article from the New York Times entitled, “The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life.” If you don’t feel like reading it, here are the nuts and bolts – get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week, of which 20-30 minutes is vigorous, to maximize the life-lengthening benefits of regular exercise. That’s not so bad, right? One hundred fifty minutes of exercise is just 30 minutes a day for five days, allowing for two exercise-free days of sloth, bad weather, and goofing around. So, do it because it’s good for you. But the NYT doesn’t say you have to ride your bike 1,000 miles to get those benefits – it just so happens that if you choose to do your 30 minutes (ish) of exercise five days a week on a bicycle, you will ride that 1,000 miles whether you plan to or not. When you work it out on paper, it looks something like this:
A few important suggestions and things to note…
- You need a few pieces of gear to make this plan work: a bike, and a helmet. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, not only from the sun but from any debris in the air. And sunscreen! (Take care of your skin, ladies!)
- You do not need Lycra pants, click-in shoes and pedals, or any other expensive gear. But if you’re going to invest, safety gear for your bike comes first – like a headlight, blinking taillight, and a mirror so you can see traffic approaching from behind you.
- If you have any medical concerns about whether you should start exercising, see your doc.
- Download an app like Map My Fitness to track your mileage.
- 10 mph on a bicycle is a slow, comfortable pace. You really can do this.
- If it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike, start on flat ground and take it easy. Focus on enjoying the breeze in your face, the sunshine, and the feeling of freedom that biking brings. The mileage will come.
After you’re biking for a while, some days you’ll ride for 35 minutes, and others you may ride for hours. Every little mile counts, and the math all comes out in the wash.
The year of my divorce, I biked 1,000 miles. I never intended to, and I didn’t have a plan. I bought a bike when my ex and I decided to call it quits (my version of the midlife crisis convertible, I suppose), hopped on in April, and with the support and instruction of a friend, I had ridden 1,000 miles by December. When I started in April, it had been a while since I had exercised regularly, and the first time I rode 5 miles I felt so accomplished. By August of that summer, I had completed a 60-mile ride. If my body could do this, I believe your body can too.
You can start in April as I did, or you can start sooner – the choice is yours. Just go. Get on, and go. Your 1,000 miles is waiting!