The 25 for 52 Challenge
Words: Randy King
Photos: Greensboro Trek; Randy King; Sports Management Group; Mary-Whitt Jones
Here at Big Mountain Riding, we’re fans of a good challenge. And we’ve learned that a long-term riding goal encourages discipline and yields unexpected pay-offs. So, for 2011, I decided to challenge myself to logging an average of 25 off-road miles on the bike each week for the entire year.
Truthfully, that doesn’t sound like much, right? One good ride a week and I’d be good to go. Aha! This is where a long-term challenge presents its own hurdles. Winter’s early dusk and iffy weather meant nights when I had no desire to get suited up and out in the cold, dark rain. (It also meant evenings when my neighbors saw me dash out to my 4Runner in the cold rain and come back in the dark, drenched and mud-caked an hour or so later. And an average needs to be fed. So, a slow start to they year meant that I had to really pedal up the miles in the second half of the year to pass that 25 mile weekly average. I did it though, with the exception of the median weekly mileage, which ended up .3 less than 25 miles. I had hoped to get it to 25 as well.
The vital stats: 1,503.5 miles for the year, for an average of 28.9 miles per week. Median weekly mileage: 24.7. Highest weekly mileage: 48. Lowest weekly mileage: 2.
- Weeks of more than 40 miles: 9
- Weeks of 30-40 miles: 19
- Weeks of 25-30 miles: 9
- Weeks of 20-25 miles: 5
- Weeks of 10-20 miles: 7
- Weeks of less than 10 miles: 3
Challenges: The beauty of a long-term riding goal is the switch to a work-a-day cyclist mentality. However, that’s the biggest challenge too. There are many days – too hot, too cold, rainy, feeling sick, etc. – that I did not want to leave the comfort of home and the big couch to pedal a few miles by myself. But a work-a-day cyclist gets it done.
Other challenges were more mundane: the more one rides – especially in the rain and mud – the more mechanical damages one racks up. And a week at the shop is 25 miles not ridden. I found an easy solution: Get another bike! Logic, who can argue with it?
I opted for cheap and reliable. My Redline Monocog rigid 29-er single speed didn’t lose derailleurs to downed tree limbs. And I felt much less guilt about slogging it through the gritty wet sand on rainy rides.
Tracking the mileage also proved a small challenge. I relied on MS Excel and documenting my mileage the next morning at the latest. The few times I forgot to document several days’ rides immediately, I ended up struggling to remember mileages.
The bikes: 2011 Trek Fuel Ex 9, 2010 Redline Monocog, 2005 Gary Fisher Tassajara.
The damages: 1 XT rear derailleur, 1 Avid brake rotor, 1 Shimano press fit bottom bracket, 1 9-speed SRAM rear cogset, two new Shimano chain rings, 3 SRAM chains.
- 12th place in the Triad Wednesday night training series single speed class
- 2nd place in the Tuesday Night Time Trials in Danville, VA
- DNF’d the Wild 100 – a race I had rocked the year before.
- 1st Place SS class at the Southside Scramble Angler’s Ridge Race
- 3:30 for the Point to Point race at Warrior Creek
Trail Systems: Anglers Ridge in Danville, VA; Cedar Ridge in Martinsville, VA; Candler’s Mountain, Blackwater Creek and Peaks View Park in Lynchburg, VA; Hobby Park, Northeast Park and Country Park around Greensboro, NC; Garin/Dry Creek Regional Park, Lake Chabot Regional Park in the East Bay area, CA; Slatyfork, WV; Oxford, NC – The wood work of Tar River trails; The woods roads and singletrack of my parents’ farm in MN.
The Pay-off / Lessons Learned:
- Satisfaction of exceeding a goal. It is rewarding to know that you are pushing toward something bigger. It definitely helps make a ride in the cold rain easier to cope with.
- Definite advancement in skills and the ability to see the bike’s potential. I rode the rocks and gnar-gnar of National Trail in Phoenix, AZ in Aug. 2010, riding on a Giant Trance X full-suss. In Feb. 2011, after the 25 for 52 challenge, I returned. Unable to rent a full sussy, I ended up on a 26″ hardtail. However, I rode more of the tech stuff and ledges than I had on the suspension bike. A year of frequent riding – and lots of time on a rigid SS – had upped my game. I realized that I know thought of stair sections, for example, in terms of the full length of the stairs not just each individual rock drop.
- Camaraderie of racing/riding buddies. Show up at the trail head more frequently and you will end up riding with more people. And a casual racing scene like Greensboro, NC’s Wednesday Night Time Trials forges friendship among riders as they see each other week after week and compete for total points in the series.
- Urge to ride more. Yes, I finished up the year with a 4-week push of more than 41 miles per week. Yes, I wound up wanting to ride my bike in the woods even more. Inspired by the 25 for 52 challenge, I started off 2012 strong, winning second place in the open category in a USA Cycling sanctioned race and earning an invitation to the National Championship Qualifiers, road-tripping to Cleveland to experience two days of Ray’s Indoor Mountain Bike Park, and checking out the sweet mountain bike park in Boone, NC.
- Desire for longer rides, uninterrupted. I did end up wishing for fewer, longer rides though. A long epic is at the heart of big mountain riding, and this challenge made me hanker for those 4-8 hour rides up and down mountains. Ah, that’s for another challenge, I guess.
© 2012 Big Mountain Riding