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Don’t break the chain

Published 2012-03-30

I’m two weeks into the Strava Classic Challenge (climb a cumulative 100,000' feet from March 15 to April 30). So how am I doing?

(Day 15 of 46)

By now I should have climbed 34,340 ft.

I have actually climbed 30,483 ft.

I am 3,858 ft. behind.

This is pretty awesome (and I daily chip away at that delta), but I’m still behind the puck. Thing is: so what? Sure I want to hit 100,000' but that’s not actually why I’m doing this. I’ll get to the “why” in a minute.

Concurrent with this effort I’m taking a photo every time I summit Council Crest. I’m posting these photos to Flickr and Pinterest. I also created my own fun little one-joke website: Can You See Mt. Hood from Council Crest? (Hint: probably not.)

The weather has not been cooperating. Last week: snow and slush; this week: pouring rain (but quite a lot warmer). I usually ride over this hill a lot — at least once a week, several times a week in good weather — but this is more sustained climbing and mileage than I’ve committed to in a long time. In the worst possible weather, natch.

Thing is, this doesn’t feel like a commitment. NOT riding my bike over the hill takes a commitment. (I made myself do so on Sunday).

Two years ago I attempted to ride 100 miles a week and, despite living a simpler life (Jenny was working and we had one less kid), I just couldn’t make it happen. At the time I thought this was because I was overly obsessed with goals and measurement, but the effortlessness with which I’m piling on distance now suggests something else. What else, I’m not quite sure.

All’s I know is: I think all the time about my next climb up to Council Crest. I feel almost like I’m making a chain: every time I summit the hill (and take a photo), I add a link to the chain. To miss a day — even to snow — would break the chain. If nothing else, I am a person of obsessive habits. By turning a “goal” into a “habit,” I’m playing to a strength. Two years ago I made a Grand Goal and felt like a failure every week I didn’t hit it. This time around I didn’t have a goal, I had an excuse, which gave me permission to reshape my daily habit.