Friday, April 01, 2011

#30DaysofBiking: The Power of Gimmick & Repetition

I'm going to ride a bike every day in April. This isn't a big deal, it shouldn't be a big deal. I'm the guy who rides thousands of miles, right? Paris-Brest-Paris? Been there, done that. Great Divide Mountain Bike Route? Yeah, that too. 36 miles per day in bike commuting? Well, not any more...

You see, I walk to work these days. It's so close that walking is the best way to get there. I walk home for lunch. And often, on my days off, Christine and I walk everywhere we need to go. And sometimes, like this year, the weather in the Puget Sound area is exactly like an Oatmeal Comic.

As much as I love biking, and I do love biking and I still ride quite a bit, I'd fallen out of the habit. I'd ride, but I haven't been riding every day.

I miss my bike commute and I miss the repetition. The getting out there in all kinds of weather. I didn't need a kick in the pants, but I did need a nudge. A tiny, trivial nudge. A gimmick.

On Twitter, where a million droplets of nothing become something, I found that gimmick. It's called #30DaysofBiking. You can sign up here. It's easy, you just pledge to ride some (around the block counts) every day in the month of April. It's a gimmick.

But here's the thing. Gimmicks work. I found this out back when I was the Commuting guy for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and in various conversations over the years with hard core bike geeks. A surprising number of passionate bikers got their start because of some gimmick like Bike to Work Day or some bike commute challenge. I refer to these things as gimmicks not to disparage them but because they don't seem essential to riding. But again, gimmicks like these work.

I think #30DaysofBiking works because it uses Jerry Seinfeld's Productivity Secret. Do something, every day. It'll become a habit.

So, I'm getting back in the habit. I've already been out riding today. Not far, but I was out and about. I rode to the bank. I saw a rabbit scoot off into the darkness. I saw the new spring lambs grazing in the shadow of the freeway. The rain this morning was light and my jacket is good. My lights work great. So do my legs and lungs. The bran muffin at the coffee shop tastes too good to possibly be good for me.

But the riding, I think that's good. I'll be out there, every day. What the heck, I'm going to post here, every day this month. At least a few words and at least one picture. #30DaysofBiking.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA


Sewbiwan said...

I'm going to join! I said in my "why" portion:

"Because I'm a very nervous biker, I'm afraid of cars and I have my own problems with anxiety and panic, and I think it would be great to get on the bike even for just five minutes a day."

Guess I'll be out in the rain today!

Apis said...

I hope that it's alright that I co-opt your write-up of the PBP 1999. I'm posting it as a random reminder to my facebook friends of what makes us cyclists tick.

Susan Tomlinson said...

OK, I woke up this morning feeling all whiny because it is supposed to be a windy day, with sustained winds of 25 mph, which is windy enough by my standards to keep me off the bike. Pretty much every day here has wind--we think it is calm if it is only blowing 12 mph or so--but anything above 20 mph and I don't feel much like riding.

But your post reminded me that things like rain and wind are just part of the fabric.

Cyrus said...

Kent - I found your blog the other day and am enjoying it very much!

I think this post has some great points about the power of repetition. I mentioned in a blog post about the reasons to take the 30 days of biking challenge that it generally takes 66 days to form a completely automatic habit, so 30 days is a darn good start. I too am doing the 30 days of biking challenge (the biking part - I'm too lazy to do the blogging part also). Good thing we've had some nice weather in the Twin Cities lately!