April 1st is not only April Fools Day, centered around pranks and jokes and various forms of tomfoolery, it’s also the beginning of 30 Days Of Biking. According to their site, 30 Days of Biking started in 2010 as a way to encourage people to ride their bike. “We ride our bikes every day in April, no matter the weather, no matter the distance. We started in 2010, and thousands of people from around the world have joined in.” At this count 6997 people have signed up. Have you?
Make a pledge. Join others and ride. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?
I’m not so sure. Is joining others and making a pledge a motivator? Will the pledge keep you going every day for 30 days? Maybe. Perhaps. Yes. The answer is different for everyone. But what happens if the pledge doesn’t work? What if you make the pledge and fail? What if you just don’t want to ride everyday? Maybe you enjoy a nice leisurely walk instead?
I’m not claiming that #30daysofbiking approach is bad or that it doesn’t work. There is nothing wrong with #30daysofbiking. I’m absolutely sure that it does work (for some people); those who really like being part of a group, and/or who like clubs and pledges and challenges and group rides.
But what if you are not one of those people? What if you don’t like any of those things? Should you feel bad that you can’t or won’t make a pledge and join the group? Should you hide during the month of April, avoid Twitter and Facebook and the countless #30daysofbiking tweets that remind you of your failure because you didn’t make a pledge?
I’m a classic introvert and #30daysofbiking is not for me. I’m guessing I’m not alone. I’m also not a joiner. I don’t like clubs. I don’t like exclusivity. I’m not a big-group person, instead I prefer connection and one-on-one interactions with people. As long as I’m confessing, I might as well tell you that I don’t like group rides either, I cringe at the thought of riding to Portland with 9,999 other people. I’d rather ride to Portland with my family. In general, I prefer to ride alone, or with one friend, or with my kids and I really like riding with Tim, he’s the best riding buddy I could ask for.
Maybe you still want to try 30 days of biking? Go for it. If you make the 30 days of biking pledge, but don’t make it 30 days, don’t feel bad. Maybe you can’t ride one day. You get sick. Or your kid gets sick. Or you have to go to a last-minute meeting and biking to work doesn’t fit into your schedule. If you didn’t ride one day or two days or 20 days, did you fail? Should you just give up and quit? What will motivate you to get back on your bike in 3 days or 5 days or next month? Do you need another pledge to kick-start your habit? Do you need to wait for May, #biketoworkmonth, to try again?
For those of you who don’t want to make pledges and tweet about #30daysofbiking or #biketoworkmonth I give you permission to opt out. And feel good about it.
For me, joy is the ultimate motivator. Most of the time, I feel joy when I get on my bike and ride. Joy (and freedom) helped me form a biking habit. When I started everyday biking, joy kept me going tomorrow and the next day, and the next and the next. Until eventually, I formed a biking habit and I didn’t have to think about it anymore, biking simply became the way I get around most of the time.
For me, and others I hope, one-day-at-a-time is a better approach. So here you go, my one-day-at-a-time pledge:
“I will try to ride my bike more. I will ride when I really want to; when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, I slept well, I have lots of energy, I can think of nothing better than getting on my bike and pedaling to work or school or to the store to get groceries. On those days, I will ride.”
But tomorrow I may not want to ride for whatever reason. And I will leave my bike at home. And I will feel fine. There is always tomorrow, a new day, and I made a one-day-at-a-time pledge.