Tag Archives: 30 days of biking

mini challenges

For anyone that follows me on Strava it’ll come as no surprise that I like to use challenges to motivate me and keep me active.

Strava are without a doubt the king of challenges and the whole concept is part of their DNA. Users can create and compete on segments to earn the KOM (King of the Mountain) or QOM (Queen of the Mountain) crown for the fastest time. Strava also give you trophies for your top 3 times on segments and give you table positions based on age and weight and in comparison to members of any Strava clubs you belong to. They’ve also recently released a new concept called Local Legend on some segments for riding a segment multiple times.

one of my local segments

Each month Strava also host regular challenges. For both cycling and running they have cumulative distance and elevation challenges as well as one-off distance challenges such as the monthly 100km Gran Fondo for cycling and 5K, 10K and Half Marathon for running. Most months they will also have partner challenges that more activities count for.

Although the regular challenges are mostly based around running or cycling they seem to be making their walking challenge a regular one.

Outside of Strava there are other challenges, mostly based on streaks of some sort. The 30 Days of Biking is one of the well known ones for cycling but there is also the Marcothon running challenge, multiple 12 Days of Xmas challenges and the less serious Coffeeeneuring and Errandonee challenges

This year I’ve been working on a Metric Century challenge to ride a minimum of one 100km spin each month for 12 months. This was originally inspired by a post of Tempo Cyclist but prompted this year by Paul of 36×25 who coined the term Resolution Ride. I’ve missed at least one month this year due to Covid lockdowns but have made it up with an extra ride the following month. So far I only have one ride left to give me 12 for the year.

Part of what attracted me to Audax was the challenges they also run. As if long distance cycling wasn’t challenge enough they have a number of streak and cumulative challenges. In 2018 I completed the Four Provinces Challenge. I’ve also started the RRTY challenge a few times including this year. I’ve decided to put my current attempt on hold as the multiple lockdowns are playing havoc with Audax Ireland having to pause and resume a number of times during 2020. I’d rather wait and make sure I can get a clean run at 12 in a row, ideally starting and finishing in late Spring or early Summer.

The ultimate Audax challenge is the Super Randonneur, completing a 200, 300, 400 and 600km event during the Audax calendar year. I don’t know if I’ll ever be capable of that but it is one I aspire to.

As far as mini adventures go though this looks like the ultimate one….

challenge complete ✅

Week 4 was the toughest week so far. Week 1 and Week 2 I was really lucky with dry and calm weather that made the early mornings a lot easier. Week 3 turned a bit nasty with Storm Ellen and some pretty damp days. Week 4 was worse! Storm Francis landed on Tuesday and 5 of the 7 days were wet, not just damp but wet. It was hateful.

Storm Francis was well predicted and although we missed the worst of it we were still under an orange warning for most of the day.

I didn’t intend to even try going out Tuesday morning as this was the worst of the rain and wind. I did waken as usual but the rain was battering off the roof. The rain continued for most of the day while I was at work and I’d pretty much decided I wasn’t going to be able to get out at all. Once home though I decided it was starting to fair up slightly and decided to give it a go. Even a short run would have been enough to keep my streak going. In the end the rain was constant but the wind was bearable coming from the South and I completed my normal 25km circuit. Riding in the storm felt almost as big an achievement as the mileage and streak challenge!

soaked but still smiling

Wednesday was my day off and I was able to coordinate my spin with a dry weather window. It was still pretty windy but this was expected. What I didn’t expect was the heavy downpour between Convoy and Kilross that left me soaked through and killed most of the fun of the ride.

© strava

Friday morning was the end of the 4th week and finally the end of the rain. It was such a relief and as the forecast was good for a few days I was feeling good again and ready to push on for the last few days.

My Saturday morning 25km took me past my first challenge marker of 1000km for the month finishing with 1007km.

© garmin

Sunday was the best spin of the whole month. It was a Club event and completed a full lap of the River Finn. It was to replace the Covid19 cancelled Lap The Lough and called Lap The Finn. It was a really good social day, my first Club spin since February and at 128km my longest spin since November 2018.

click the image to view on strava

Setting out on my final spin of the month on Monday morning I was really feeling the day before and regretting the extra 23km up and down from home, all the turns on the front plus the few sprints and hard pushes up hills. It was a really nice morning and a perfect spin to finish out the month but boy was I glad to see home 😆

© garmin

I’m really glad I started this challenge. It’s given me back my motivation to ride again as well as helping me to build my fitness to a level that I haven’t felt for a few years now. I have a new, longer term challenge in mind but I’ll post more details on that over the next week or so.

Yesterday was a planned rest day. Today was forced rest as we’re back under a yellow weather warning again so I made myself feel better by going bike shopping. I’ve a deal done on a fantastic upgrade but until the Bike to Work paperwork is sorted I don’t want to jinx it by posting photos. Watch this space……

week 3

This was supposed to be a straightforward week but it became anything but! The wheels almost came off the wagon at the very start. I woke Saturday morning to thick fog which made cycling a very bad idea so had to reschedule to the evening and after work for the first time in a long time. As traffic was busy I decided to go a different route than usual which was a good bit hillier. It had become very hot during the day and my legs were like concrete after the lack of sleep from Thursday and a busy day at work.

even at 730am the fog was very thick!

I had planned Sunday to be my 100K spin for the 2020 Metric Challenge but I felt crap when I got up, totally lacking in energy and motivation and with a bit of a dodgy stomach. Instead of cycling we went to Fanad Lighthouse for the afternoon. I was in a lot better form when I got home and went for a fast and enjoyable 40K.

fanad lighthouse

Monday and Tuesday I was feeling much better and back to the early mornings before work. So much more enjoyable and put me in the perfect form to go for my 100K on Wednesday.

I knew it was coming on Wednesday but it was Thursday when the real tough days began. The country was battered by an unseasonable Summer storm caused by the remnants of Hurricane Kyle. Parts of the country were under Red and Orange weather warnings but thankfully we were only under Yellow as Storm Ellen crossed Wednesday night and left its mark throughout Thursday.


Thursday morning was smack bang in the middle of the worst of the forecast so I decided in advance to wait until after work especially as the winds were set to ease. Driving to work with bits of branches all over the roads and lots of broken larger branches I was particularly happy with my decision. That evening was pretty wet but only slightly breezy and quite warm again.

Friday I had planned to get back to morning rides but I woke to heavy rain and clouds so low it was still almost dark at 6am. Visibility was crap so I went back to bed for an extra hour and waited until evening once again. This was probably the least enjoyable spin of the month. The wind was back up, frustratingly stronger than during the weather warning, and I got caught in a very heavy shower as I approached Ballybofey. Very much a tick box spin and a hateful way to finish the week.

© garmin connect

A total of 266km for the week keeps me well on track and gives me a total of 765km for the month. Still ahead of my target 1000km.

week two

14 days done and still going well. A busy week from a family point of view required some careful organisation to make sure I didn’t break my streak.

© garmin connect

I managed to keep up the early starts this week with a 6am spin on the same route as last week each day before work. I’m definitely preferring mornings for training versus evenings but especially so this week. It’s been very warm and humid every morning, except for a chilly, foggy Saturday. The evenings were even warmer and would have been a real struggle.

foggy saturday morning river view

It was my days off that provided the challenges. Catriona wanted to go visit the Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk on Sunday which required an early cycle. Having just an extra half hour in bed I squeezed in 55K and was back early enough to get away at a decent time. The Boardwalk was very busy with lots of people making the most of the good weather but it turned out that we were better off being a little bit later. Monday morning was interesting with legs that felt like concrete slowing me way down.

Thursday was a big family day with Conor’s Confirmation ceremony that had been postponed from earlier in the year due to lockdown. We got all dressed up and went to the Mass before returning home to celebrate with family and friends.

With some last minute jobs around the house to be done and a trip to the barbers needed it meant another early start to squeeze in 50K and get home with enough time. Managed to get two decent climbs into the mix also to make the ride count that little bit extra.

click the image to view on strava

The craic was so good last night that the party went on longer than I expected and I wasn’t in bed until almost midnight. The humidity made sleep difficult and I was awake at 5am with no chance of sleeping again. Somehow I managed to drag myself out of bed and on to the bike. Definitely the toughest morning so far and the closest I’ve come to throwing in the towel.

I knew that this morning would leave me virtually half way to my mileage target. I had a mini plan to get in an extra kilometre or so but my legs were having none of it and I counted myself lucky just to make it home!

ocd alert © garmin connect

Week 3 starts tomorrow morning and is looking to be less busy. Planning to complete my August Metric Challenge ride on Sunday so I should be ahead of my target again by the end of the week 🤞

week one

My first week of the 31 Days of Biking challenge is complete and so far, so good.

© Garmin Connect

I’m aiming for 230km per week so after Week 1 I’ve banked 36km in case I have issues later in the month getting in my mileage.

Four of my runs were early mornings, getting away at 6am for a 25km blast before heading to work. This route is nice and simple and doesn’t require too much thought or effort at that time of the morning.

© strava

Half of it is on the main N15 and although the roads are still quiet it’s a lot busier than I expected, especially with HGVs. I guess they’re trying to beat the traffic through the night and early morning.

My longest spin was 74km on Sunday, to the Ghost House, but as Monday was a Bank Holiday I also managed to sneak in a bonus 57km spin. This was in support of our Club Beginner Group that is in its second week. I cycled up and down and then completed 25km with the group, providing support and advice as they gain confidence on the road and in traffic. It was a very social night, very relaxed and very enjoyable.

I had planned to get 50-60km in again on Wednesday, my second day off, but life intervened. Family duties took priority which meant I didn’t get out until quite late in the day and was under pressure to get home for 8pm. 33km had to satisfy me but it kept me on track.

© strava

Only 7 days in and I’m starting to see benefits already. I can feel my legs getting stronger and I seem to be getting faster as my morning times are improving. I’m not sure how much of this is due to weather conditions through the week but at least they’re heading in the right direction.

Week 2 starts tomorrow with some additional challenges that will require careful time management.

31 days of biking

There are a couple of streak challenges out there that have caught my eye over the years. One of these is “Every Day in May“. The aim of this challenge is to complete a physical activity every day for the month of May with the option of raising money for charity while doing so. The challenge is designed mainly for walking and running 5 or 10K each day but in 2017 I decided to do it as a cycling challenge. I completed the challenge with a total of 1500km for the month.

That was the year when I was at my fittest and strongest on the bike. I did my first 200km Audax that May and went on to complete the Four Provinces Challenge and a total of five 200km Audax events for the year starting a four month streak for RRTY that unfortunately died when I missed December. RRTY remains an aspiration for me as does the next level challenge of Super Randonneur.

may 2017 © strava

I had the Four Provinces medals framed by one of my friends who is a photographer and it is one of my favourite possessions.

I originally came across Every Day in May when I saw a reference to “30 Days of Biking“. By then it was well into April so I went looking for something similar. I completed Every Day in May in 2019 again, mostly with walking activities, but I’ve never gone back to do 30 Days of Biking. I looked at it earlier this year but with Covid19 restrictions I couldn’t build up enough motivation to ride my bike at all never mind every day.

My running has been going well and I finished the None2Run program at the end of June.

graduation day 5k

Since then I’ve played around with a number of 10K training plans and ran a further four 5Ks while trying to find a good progression plan. Eventually I settled on a modified version of N2R that was suggested by another member of the N2R Facebook group. It involves slow/fast running intervals instead of walking/running for the 25 minutes. It’s the perfect program for me as I eventually worked out that I don’t really want to run 10K, I like intervals, like running early in the morning and don’t want to give up more time in the morning before work. Unfortunately, I’ve managed to pick up an injury after completing the first week when I ran a 5K. It was my fastest 5K ever and I think that was the problem.

27:27 5K pb

The injury is the same as the one that stopped me in my tracks in December. It’s a strained left calf muscle and I worked out in November that it was caused by running too much, too quickly in the program. I figure I’m once again running too fast, too quick and have aggravated the same muscle. I need to slow down and build speed and distance more slowly but first I need to rest and heal.

Initially I decided to walk on my run days but that’s taking a full hour and isn’t really resting my calf. Instead I’ve decided to take on the 30 Days of Biking challenge for the month of August, making it into a 31 Days of Biking. I’m going to keep getting up before work for a 25km/1 hour spin and keep up my longer spins on my days off. In 2017 I managed 1500km and I’ve only hit 1000km three times ever, with the last time being May 2017, so I’m also setting a distance target of 1000km for August just to keep me fully focused each week. It may seem odd to increase my cycling activity to rest my leg but cycling and running use quite different muscles or at least the same ones in different ways.

So far I’m off to a good start with an early morning 25km yesterday and a 74km spin this afternoon to the Ghost House. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so I’m planning to add another slightly longer spin to keep me ahead of schedule for the month.

The plan is to be a lot fitter and stronger by the start of September and ready to get back running again.