Bike challenge accepted, achievement unlocked!

March 10, 2016

Originally published on Bike Auckland

A guest blog by Vivian Chandra, from Amnesty International, used the Auckland Bike Challenge to figure out a cunning way for a busy working karate mum to fit some biking into her week.

Well, it’s now March and so the Auckland Bike Challenge has come to an end. I was asked to write a few words about it, and to be quite honest, I feel like a bit of a fraud… I came last on our organisation’s leaderboard and didn’t even get on my bike until Week 2!

I guess, however, it makes for a more honest blog. I’m not what you’d call a cycling junkie… I try to ride for fitness when I can (and with a Mr almost-5 and a Mr 8 and a full-time job, the ‘when I can’ is few and far between) and most places I go, I drive – yep, even to the shops literally around the corner.

So I thought I’d use the February challenge as a bit of a personal challenge: if I made more of an effort, perhaps this cycling thing would stick.

Bike Rack!

Firstly, a big SHOUTOUT to the @amnestynz crew who wholeheartedly got behind the bike challenge, to the point where we had an overflowing bike rack most days! I must admit, our wee office tends to have at least 2 to 3 regular riders anyway, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to get a few more of us on our bikes. But it was great to see how the competitive nature of the staff, coupled with the constantly updated online leaderboard, spiced things up a bit.

I had bought a bicycle a few years ago, and according to my Endomondo, these were my stats for 2015:

  • 384.96km total
  • 35 rides
  • Average 11km per ride

So as you can tell, not really much of a rider. In fact, those stats are from a total of 17 days. I rode 17 days out of 365! That is only 5% of the year.

Thinking about those 17 days, I realised that while I enjoyed riding, the problem was that I was attempting to do too much. I had set myself a goal of riding to work every Tuesday. I live in Mangere Bridge, so that’s a distance of around 12km. After work on Tuesdays, I’d head to my karate dojo in Morningside (another 4km) and then after training for an hour, I would ride home (another 12km). Needless to say, I didn’t manage to do this ride every Tuesday. I barely made it at all.

As the Auckland Bike Challenge was condensed into one month, I knew I needed to make a slight change to really get some riding done. I’d aim for fewer km, but more rides. So I started driving to my dojo, parking my car for free on the side of the road, and riding from there to work, and then back to the dojo after work.

Immediately, I stumbled across a problem. In order to be able to ride from my dojo to work, I needed to put my bike in my car EVERY DAY. So I tweaked the grand plan slightly.

Solution: my parents live less than a km from the dojo; and as a bonus, my car will be safer at their house (behind the gate) instead of on the side of the road.

So for now, my bike lives permanently at my parents’ house, and my rides to work average 4km instead of 11km. This new plan also means that the car drive prior to the bike ride has all the seats available, making child drop-offs that much easier.

The only downside is that my bike now lives about 11km away from home, so I can’t easily go for rides on the weekends. (I fixed that this past weekend by going for a run). The main thing is, the plan works for me, for now. Here’s hoping this dastardly plan keeps working and I’m still riding in 2017!

PS If you are just starting off on your cycling journey, make sure you get a helmet that makes you happy! Here’s mine:

Avengers Bike Helmet

— Vivian Chandra (@vivsterNZ) blogs at www.vivianchandra.com and works at Amnesty International NZ, which took part in the Auckland Bike Challenge in the ‘small office’ category.