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.
I’m a pretty hard core cyclist, but I don’t want to make the 30 days of bicycling commitment. I ride to work every week day, and I participate in a training series on one weekend day. Sometimes I ride the other weekend day. Sometimes I stay home and don’t even leave my apartment. So far this year I’ve averaged nearly 700 miles a month. April will probably be similar, but I guarantee I’ll take at least one Sunday off.
Thanks for the comment, Rich. I’m glad I have company. I don’t think the pledge was designed for you, 700 miles a month is plenty. : ) Enjoy your Sunday rest day!
My thoughts on #30daysofbiking are similar. I have no intention of biking every day in April. I bike to go places, and I don’t go places every day. Whenever we go somewhere, I choose the best mode to get there – feet, bike, car, bus. Today it was the bike. Tomorrow, it will be the car.
Agreed, I bike to go places too and sometimes I have no need to go anywhere. Why invent reasons to ride just because you’ve made a pledge? Again, I think this approach works for some people, it’s just not for me.
Love this! I’m trying to develop a more bike-centric lifestyle, but most of my biking will get to be enjoyed when I am on summer break. I take my home schooled daughter to co-op classes twice a week that are 15 miles away. Living in Minnesota, that’s too hard-core for me. But when I am not required to travel so far, I like to get around my own area by bike. I’m going to challenge myself to be car-free for at least one week this summer… and then maybe more if I meet with success with that. But that will include getting around by train,foot,bus, or bike – anything but the car! I do like challenges, but like you, I like to challenge MYSELF. I’m glad people have fun with doing group challenges, but it’s not really for me either.
Hi Nicole, Thanks for the comment. I love your perspective. Finding internal motivation is the ultimate goal, right? And everyone gets that motivation in their own way. Summer, when time pressures are minimal, is a great time to build a biking habit. Have fun!
Hey, I’m the director of #30daysofbiking and stumbled over here via a Google update! I appreciate your perspective and definitely understand that 30 Days of Biking isn’t for everyone. By no means do we intend to make someone feel guilty for not riding. Signing up involves a smidgen of accountability to other people on social media, but I don’t want anyone shaming other people for riding. It’s just a fun adventure we’re going on together.
Your mention of appreciating more one-on-one interaction registers with me. Despite being the co-founder of this very social challenge, I’m actually VERY MUCH a one-on-one person, too. 30 Days of Biking has been a good thing for me in that it’s often forced me to break away from my introverted mindset and meet and converse with people I wouldn’t ordinarily meet. The social factor is often more of a challenge to me than riding every day.
Correction: “shaming other people for NOT riding”
Hi Patrick — Thanks for reaching out. Like I said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with 30 Days of Biking. I know the intent of the pledge is not about shame, it’s about forming habits. Which is great for some people, who love making the commitment and tweeting/fb posting etc about it! But not everyone is into that. I stick by my one day at a time approach, which resonates with people too. Just giving a different perspective.
Pingback: Raven: Water Water Everywhere…No, literally everywhere | My Floating World
Pingback: six of seven | The View from the Crosswalk
I liked this post! Joy should drive more decisions!