Halfway through the National Bike Challenge, Lincoln’s residents are doing a great job of logging miles. We checked in with one rider, Michaella Kumke, who has been posting daily updates on her journey. It’s an inspiring one! Have a story to share? Contact us! -Elisabeth
Rise to the Challenge
by Michaella Kumke
The trails were slushy and sloppy after an overnight, dusting of snow. It wasn’t more than an inch of accumulation, but did I really want to bike to work in that? I mean, I could just get in my heated car and go. I wouldn’t have to don layers of clothing, strategically pack my bag and leave my house in plenty of time to travel almost five miles only to change clothes once I arrived so I would be dressed like a working professional. Yet, I stepped up to the challenge and got on my bike.
The moment I saw the footprints and tire tracks ahead of my wheels I felt reassured by my decision. I could do this. I had to do this. I made a pact with myself just one day prior that I would, so I couldn’t quit already.
After taking a “selfie” and impulsively posting it to my Facebook wall with the description “Day 1 of the Bike Challenge,” I launched an unintentional campaign for cycling. That was May 1st. Now, more than 70 days—and even more photos—later, this impulsive act kick started a successful and rewarding attempt at personal accountability that has spread to others.
During the 2012 National Bike Challenge, I tracked a meager amount of miles. So when the Challenge started again this year, I decided after snapping that first photo I would get on my bike every single day, even if only for a short jaunt, and ride. For more experienced riders—commuters, fitness riders or competitors—this may not seem like a big deal, but to me, it was.
What I experience while on my bike more than makes up for the time I would spend driving my car to work or other stops. Besides, the savings really isn’t all that much; maybe 8 minutes at best on my work commute. Here’s a glimpse at some of the highlights from my challenge so far:
Day 6, a father patiently coaching his daughter to ride without training wheels
Day 10, the waning hours of my single life and the anticipation of something even better
Day 16, feeling a true sense of being present and belonging
Day 28, a nostalgic visit to City Campus, a reminder of lessons learned and achievements since
Day 33, silly games I sometimes create to motivate me to ride
Day 36, getting an amateur sense of how it might feel to ride in a professional race line
Day 44, quiet opportunities to enjoy art and natural beauty along Lincoln’s trails
Day 46, hues of a nighttime summer sky I wouldn’t have noticed even through my car’s moon roof
Day 48, appreciating the opportunities for solitude and clarity a bike ride brings
Day 55, even a surprise downpour couldn’t dampen the joy I feel on my bike
Day 61, the day I started to entertain selling my car and replacing it with a second bike
Day 66, disappointment in USA-holes who littered the trails and streets with their 4th of July “patriotism”
Day 68, the reality that my bike time often awakens my senses to my surroundings
Day 73, perhaps one of the most rewarding days yet. A colleague asked for my input as she prepared to purchase her own commuter.
I take joy in learning that my personal challenge has become personal for others. Since I started this haphazard endeavor, at least seven people have informed me they have decided to ride their bike or purchase a bike, inspired by my Bike Challenge posts. I think that’s fantastic.
I am not a person lacking in reasons to smile or laugh, but I know I do more of both these days. Without a doubt, a portion of that increase is a direct correlation to my increased amount of cycling. I love seeing fellow bicyclists out and about on the trails and streets. I love exploring this community in a slower, more intentional way. I love the rewarding sense of accomplishment that comes from arriving home with a Great Plains headwind taunting me the entire way. I love that the Lincoln cycling community is one undeterred by challenges, and that in fact, we rise to these challenges powered by passion and a love for something good.