In the grand YouTube tradition of trying a fitness challenge for 30 days in a row, vlogger Zach Gallardo recently decided to set himself the challenge of cycling 30 miles (just over 48 km) every single day for a whole month. He assigns no additional rules regarding elevation or climb on his bike rides; the only requirement is that he hit that 30-mile distance every day.
“I’ve gotten to the point where just riding my bike to get where I need to go isn’t really scratching that cycling itch for me,” he says. “So I am trying this challenge to see if it will change my habits, my fitness, my mood, and my eagerness to get on a bike and ride, and if it can reignite my love of cycling.”
He completes the first day with relative ease, but notes that a 30-mile bike ride in 110-degree heat is a lot more draining than the usual 10-mile rides he’s used to. It’s not long, however, before his enthusiasm begins to dip.
“At the beginning of week one, I started off strong, feeling excited to take on this new challenge,” he says. “But by day five of riding in Taipei’s round-the-clock merciless heat, my mood, energy, and eagerness quickly returned to baseline… and by day seven, my body tanked and I was forced to take a rest day.”
As the second week began, Gallardo says he is “dreading” his nightly rides, especially as the two hours per ride is starting to interfere with the rest of his routine. In addition to disrupting his social life and sleep schedule, the challenge is starting to have an effect on his body.
“30 miles is a distance that I would usually just do on a whim while out riding, but doing it each and every day was a lot more taxing,” he says. “My legs became so sore that I had to walk a lot more slowly, taking the stairs became painful, and I had periodic knee pain throughout the day, all of which compounded to make my rides even less enjoyable.”
Gallardo originally hoped that setting himself these daily targets would help him rediscover the enjoyment he felt while riding, but it actually has the total opposite effect of making it feel like a chore.
For the third week, he starts riding in the mornings instead of the evenings, and finds that this had a more positive effect on his mood. “Instead of the obligation hanging over my head for the entire day, the ride became a way for me to start my day off right,” he says. He continues to feel more of a benefit from the morning rides throughout the rest of the challenge, although he does require some additional rest days.
At the start of the challenge, Gallardo weighs 159.6 pounds with 16.8 percent body fat. 30 days and around 630 miles later, he has lost 4.2 pounds 0.5 percent body fat, while consuming 30 percent more calories each day than his usual diet.
“It’s important to make cycling a part of your life, rather than make your life revolve around cycling,” he says. “Also, listen to your body. it knows best. You’re not a machine. If your legs are screaming and it’s hard to walk and your feet are cramping and you’re getting dizzy from not eating enough food, guess what, you’ve earned a rest day. Cycling is supposed to be fun, it’s OK to be flexible!”