Great Cycle Challenge: My Motivation and the Sweet Payoff

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As of 6/21/17

Once I’ve decided that I am going to do something, I do not let anything get in my way. This has been evident over the years in terms of my schooling efforts and relationship efforts but biking gives the most direct, tangible example of these traits. Long distance cycling is all about perseverance and maintaining focus until the goal is reached. This year, I find myself already surpassing my personal record of miles in a year with only half the year gone. The reason for that incredible total? Setting myself the goal of the Big Ride: a 5-day excursion from Iowa City to Jamestown, NY. With that in mind, I have tried my best to come up with a training plan that will allow me to complete the goal. The other factor in the achievement of that mile total is the Great Cycle Challenge.

When I first proposed the idea of biking to New York State to my wife, it came with the idea of attaching a charity to it. That’s the reason this blog exists in the first place, to provide said charity with some tangible proof that I was serious about riding. We haven’t done the leg work that is required to get a reputable charity attached, but we did find the Great Cycle Challenge, which raises money used for the funding of children’s cancer research.

So far, this challenge has focused me even more than just my original plan of biking to New York. In the beginning, I set a goal of 1,000 miles for the month, which would surpass my total mileage record in a month by just over 100 miles, and those records came this year as well in April and May. I have already surpassed the 1,000-mile for June goal with just over a week left in the challenge. I adjusted my goal to 1,500 miles and I am pushing harder, biking more than ever before.

I have never pushed myself to this extent before. Every long ride I had ever done prior to this month was a one-off; an explosion of distance and then days off the bike. Now, I’m biking back-to-back centuries each weekend and as of writing this, I put up 100 miles in commuting in just two days–a goal I typically try to reach by the end of a 5-day work week.

IMG_20170610_150637I would be lying if I said my motivation was purely to reach the new goal of 1,500 miles in the month of June. The truth lies in the fact that the Great Cycle Challenge leader board is a mainstay on my computer, the tab always open and ready to be clicked on. I’m in a one-sided mileage “battle” with one other person in the state of Iowa and he is currently beating me soundly. As of 6/21/17, he has me beat by 98 miles for the month. Every day, I try to put up more miles to close the gap and he stays right with me. This personal competition with no reward, no stakes, is enough to keep me motivated and digging deeper still, pushing my exhausted legs to pedal just a little bit farther each morning on the way to work.

I have even perused the national leader board. Here, things get messy. The first place holder has over 4,000 miles. But if you click to her page, she has one “ride” logged (more like a swim) and it’s a 4,000 mile trip from the states to Sweden taken in April. I’m not sure why that is on there. Second place belongs to a legit biker who is over 2,000 miles already, consistently putting up 100-mile rides nearly every day. That dude is a beast. Third place is over 2,000 miles as well but has one ride that is 1,800 miles long in one day. Not sure what that is about but I am pretty confident in my understanding of time and physical exertion to know that such a feat is not possible despite what all the children’s books say about anything being possible if you try hard enough.

Even counting those two in the top three, I am currently sitting at 16th in the nation in miles. As far as I can tell, that’s 16 out of 32,972 registered riders.

Overall, this challenge has me working harder than ever before, allowing me even more motivation for training for the Big Ride in July. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the process of checking the leader board, measuring myself against other tremendously dedicated riders. The challenge has me biking more commuting miles and cutting out rest days. As of writing this (6/21/17), I have biked a minimum of 11 miles for 23 consecutive days with my next lowest daily total at 20.5 miles.

I have just a few more days left in this. Whether or not I reach 1,500 for the month or beat out the other cyclist in Iowa, this has been an amazing challenge for me, the GCC will definitely be an annual mainstay for me for many years to come, and I’m pumped to finish this June strong.


If you’d like to follow along with my daily rides and/or help me reach my current donation goal of $1,500, please visit my challenge page. I’m currently sitting at $1,068.25 in donations, which is way better than I thought I’d do for my first time fundraising but I have a little ways to go to catch up to Iowa’s first place rider in donations who is sitting at just over $2,100.

Thank you all for your support.

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