A 3000 Mile Virtual Cycling Journey

I was tired of being unhealthy, so I jumped on my bike and virtually rode across the country.

After surrounding myself completely with cycling as my new obsession to get fit, I decided to make a big decision. I decided in December of 2018, that the next year I would set forth on a journey unlike any other I had done before.

I chose to make it a goal to cycle 3,000 miles in one calendar year to get myself in shape. This would be the equivalence of riding from Ocean City, MD to San Francisco, CA. 

Being that I had a business to run and a family to support, I was not going to be able to physically complete this in real life (just yet). So I decided that I would make the journey fun. I would somehow “virtually” complete this ride.

By virtually, I mean that I would track my progress on a map. Simple right? This would serve as motivation and keep it interesting. Afterall, I thought I could do it, but it was going to take a lot of time and potentially be boring, and I was correct on both fronts.

Long story short, I did in fact complete this challenge. It took a lot of focus, effort and support from my family. I’m grateful for all those that helped along the way.

A 3,000 Mile Virtual Cycling Journey : Jeff Welsh

Ride Rules

I did set a few rules for this personal challenge. I felt it necessary in order to stay within certain boundaries. The rules were as follows.

  • All rides had to be tracked on my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt bike computer
  • I could use my bike trainer indoors during the winter months
  • I could ride outdoors anywhere to add miles, even when I was on travel for work
  • Data had to be collected in a spreadsheet after each ride

Most of the miles were completed outside and on a gravel bike. Fortunately, the trainer made a huge difference to ensure I would stay on track. By combining the two, it would mix things up and make it more interesting, which was desperately needed in the beginning.

Target Points

Before I biked even one mile, I had to break things down into smaller goals. Afterall, just saying I would bike 3,000 miles is such a large undertaking, that if I didn’t have little wins along the way I would for sure burn out quickly.

So here’s what I did. I figured that I would need to ride a total of 250 miles each month. This meant that I would have to complete an average of approximately 62.5 miles a week!

Having these numbers was huge. It meant that every Sunday when I woke up, for 52 weeks, I would map out my rides for the week. In the beginning, I was confident that I could do several 15+ mile rides a week to meet this goal. I was right, but they were tough at first, especially on the trainer in a corner of my basement.

With specific number targets to hit each week, this allowed me to have little wins along the way. Wins are vitally important in achieving any large goal, so keep track of the small ones. It keeps you in a positive head space which you need to stay on point.

A Few of My Ride Numbers

As I progressed through the journey, I found it was valuable to keep track of my numbers. Below are a the key points.

Miles Completed 3,000.21
Total Rides 168
Hours on Bike 210 hours 28 minutes 49 seconds
Average Speed 12.58 mph
Average Cadence 60 rpm
Total Calories Burned 146,597

Monthly Mileage Break Down

I also kept track of numbers in a monthly break down. This allowed me to see more accurately which months were better than others and have a good idea where they ranked. You can see that July was my strongest month by far and I hit a low month in September. By reviewing these, I was able to judge what I needed to do in November and December to HIT MY GOAL!

In November I did a 100 mile century ride in one outing. That was fun and put me to a point where I could see the light at the end of the tunnel :-)

Month Mileage Rank Notes
January 251.2 6
February 242.57 7
March 214.32 8
April 277.21 3
May 181.5 10
June 120.5 11
July 506.54 1
August 253.62 4
September 86.63 12
October 203 9
November 270.2 5 Century ride month.
December 378.8 2

Where I Rode

Endless miles on a trainer. I also rode a ton on the rail trail in Morgantown, however I did bike in many other places around the country. Here are the ones that stand out and helped me rack up the miles (in no particular order).

  • Allegheny Passage Trail, Pennsylvania
  • B&A Trail (BWI to Annapolis, Maryland)
  • Beverly Hills, California
  • Hollywood, California
  • Laurel, Maryland (Around my childhood town)
  • Miami, Florida
  • Outer Banks, North Carolina
  • San Diego, California
  • Seattle, Washington

Conclusion

So there you have it. Details on my 3,000 mile virtual ride journey. I’m super proud of this accomplishment as it's the biggest physical challenge I’ve ever completed. Crazy part is, this has sparked even larger challenges. I ask myself often, what else can I achieve that’s even more challenging?

Call it crazy if you want, but I think challenges like this are truly a passion for pushing the boundaries of the mind. Yes, it’s a good part physically challenging, but our mind is often what gets in the way of doing great things. Doing great things are what make us inspirational for others and allow us to help people make positive changes in their lives for the better.

Until I complete the next challenge and get a chance to document it ...

Let’s Roll!
- Jeff

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