Janice Banham and bike early AprilI took the 30 Days of Biking challenge this year, pledging to ride every day in the month of April. I needed to change things up after months of long work hours with little exercise left me tired, out of shape and not much fun. The pledge was simple. Just ride every day. Any distance, any destination. Sign me up.

I’ve been cycling for years, commuting to work, on weekend jaunts, triathlons and week-plus tours. Still I could find all kinds of reasons to do nothing for days or weeks – too tired, too cold, flat tire, pressed for time, can’t find my lucky socks, yada yada.  The dust gathered on my ride while the fat cells partied on my hips.

So on April 1 with the temps in the low 40s I bundled up and trundled out on my two-wheeler to work. It took me a good long time to get there but I arrived with a smile. I got up the next day and did it again.  By Day 3 I was on a roll. Whatever else did or didn’t happen that day, I had miles in the books and a smile on my face. Some days my husband rode along too, a nice bonus.

The pledge swept away the excuses and helped me get creative. If I couldn’t ride to work, I’d pedal to the grocery store or the pharmacy afterwards. Ordinarily I would think nothing of firing up the car for those little errands, but I found its not a big deal to ride instead. My plummeting gasoline bill is another bonus.

Barry Branham biking on MelroseDid I make it all 30 days? Well, almost. I did surrender on three rainy days. Thunder & lightning are a little too freaky. And there were a couple times when I was just checking the box, like another rainy day when I pedaled a few blocks to the coffee shop to meet a friend.  Round trip was maybe a half mile. Hey, they said any distance right?

I figure the morning I went out for a short ride before my first colonoscopy (with a bike bottle full of the fun stuff they make you drink before) made up for the days I missed. If ever there was a good excuse, that would have been it.  I picked a route with plenty of, ahem, facilities and rolled out to see the dogwoods in bloom. As usual, it felt great once I got myself out there.

Today was the best. I was signed up for a Barnes Jewish Hospital training event in downtown St. Louis – 9 miles farther than my usual 13 mile commute, through unfamiliar territory in city traffic, starting way early. Oh so many excuses not to ride.  But it was the 30th, how could I not? I rode with my husband as far as his office, explored a new route the rest of the way, met up unexpectedly with a friend on the way back, and enjoyed every mile.

To the good people who dreamed up #30DaysofBiking: thank you!  And what about tomorrow?  Hmm, isn’t National Bike Month in May? Bring it.