30 Day Challenge – Day One

Recently several things crashed together in my head: conversations with friends about good fortune and living without fear, Cindy Ratzlaff‘s comment at RWA that you don’t have to be twenty-one to have your whole life ahead of you, my son turning ten a few days ago. We spent the boy’s birthday in Denver, where the cycling culture is very alive and well. While I was at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science I picked up The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook by Caz Nicklin. Like most kids, I spent quite a bit of time as a child on a bike, but in the last thirty years, riding a bike had become a “sport”, not a basic mode of transportation, or something I did for fun. I had a mountain bike hybrid I rode only when pressed, because the forward lean put too much pressure on my wrists and elbows, aggravating joints I wanted to keep healthy for writing. But something about the book (probably the cool fashion and the retro cruiser bikes) got me thinking. If I have the rest of my life ahead of me, I want to spend more of it on a bike.

Meet Persie.

Classically stylish...

Classically stylish…


She’s an Electra Townie 21d (because despite Nebraska’s reputation as a pancake-flat-flyover-state, Omaha is really rather hilly so I need all twenty-one gears). I named her for her color – persimmon – and for my son’s favorite character, Percy Jackson from Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. She was a big splurge, even before I added fenders, rear rack, basket, and saddlebag – but I absolutely adore riding her. I’ve been reading blogs written by women cyclists around the world. They cycle to work, to the grocery store, everywhere, and while most of them live in larger cities where driving a car is a bigger pain in the fanny than riding a bike, they make it look cool. Like, really cool. Like, bike in skirts and tweed and funky helmets and boots, and add saddlebags and baskets for loaves of French bread.

Biking. Come for the exercise, stay for the accessories. I can get behind this sport.

This morning, as I hauled myself to yoga to work out the kinks from twenty hours of driving on vacation, and a desk job that’s given me rather severe tendinitis, the yoga studio owner suggested a hot yoga challenge. In the past that’s meant taking a hot yoga (it’s Bikram-ish) class every day for a set period of time. Thirty days…sixty days…ninety days. As I sweated through the class – which I’d ridden to on Persie – both ideas came together in my mind.

For the next 32 days (because my birthday is in 32 days) I’m going to take a yoga class every day, and bike everywhere I can. I live in what I lovingly call suburban strip mall hell, but the good news about that is that the things I do most frequently: take my son to school, go to the grocery store, go to a coffee shop, go to yoga, are all within an easy ten minute bike ride. Today I put my mat, towel, and water bottle in Persie’s saddlebag and biked to the yoga class. And home again. Let me tell you, I’m quite a sight after ninety minutes of yoga done in a room heated to 105 degrees and 50% humidity, but I pedaled home feeling extra virtuous and the shower felt extra good.

That’s the challenge. Thirty-two days of yoga, and thirty-two days of riding my bike where I can. I’ve decided to blog about it because I need the accountability. Hold me to this, dear readers. Expect a post a day, pictures, observations, things I see that are cool, car/driver behavior that is cool…or decidedly not cool (I’m looking at you, whoever was driving the Lexus hybrid SUV that wouldn’t wait literally three seconds for me to turn left into a parking lot and therefore honked at a middle-aged woman on a bike).

What about you? Have you been mulling over a challenge, to read more, get more sleep, eat fewer carbs? I’d love some company, so if you want to jump in and set an arbitrary timeframe for a particular task or goal, please do! As Cindy said, we’ve all got the rest of our lives ahead of us…time to start living!

5 comments on “30 Day Challenge – Day One

  1. Landra Graf

    Yay! Go biking!

    I’ve been considering getting on a bike, but every time – I stop myself. I get scared. Instead I’ve been trying to stay on an elliptical 3 days a week. I’m committed to being a healthier me.
    No soda or caffeine of any sort, which I’ve managed for nearly six months. Eating more fresh foods and vegetables, still a work in progress.

    I applaud you for having the courage to get on a bike and I remember the rampant hills of Omaha with great fondness. You will definitely need all those gears. Can’t wait to hear more about your progress.

    • Landra, I just saw this, which puts the bike ride tweet in context. Oh my gosh, yay you!!! Even a quarter of a mile is an accomplishment!

      I also gave up soda in January, and my beloved chai lattes in February (9 teaspoons of sugar per drink – oh, wow). Adding fresh fruits and veggies is always a work in progress with kids. I just signed up for a CSA share, and couldn’t believe the abundance of vegetables to try. I had to scramble for basic recipes, but it was worth it to eat food that had been in the ground twelve hours earlier.

      Keep it up – you inspire me! 🙂

  2. jcm

    Anne – you go girl! I live in Golden, Colorado, the slightly less tragically hip alternative to Boulder, and have been an active (to the point of silliness) cyclist since the mid-80s. There is just nothing quite as great as riding to your destination in the cool of the morning. I commuted to my job downtown for several years, and the days I biked in were measurably better mental health days – for me and all the people I interacted with. Transforming a bike ride into transportation rather than a work-out is something I wish more people could embrace. Good luck – and remember Mad Eye Moody’s exhortation: “Constant Vigilance.” Being a long-lived cyclist means being a very aware cyclist.

    • No way! I was just in Golden in June, visiting a friend after spending a week in Winter Park. It’s a lovely city, with a really charming downtown and park.

      I totally agree about the mental health component. I can’t believe how much calmer I am most days. I think that’s because I refuse to ride with music…it just seems reckless and a risk I’m not willing to take. Most of my riding is along a street with a 40 MPH speed limit, or down an access road that’s basically a speedway. Yes, yes, yes to constant vigilance!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Shawn

    Hi Anne! I googled images of Townie Electra in Persimmon and your Persie photo popped up! I smiled because mine is Persy. I want to add fenders and can’t decide between black and silver. I saw your fenders and am now seriously learning towards black. Are yours matte?

    Loved your blog and hope you are still pedaling along with Persie!

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