New challenges

It is often said that outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens, so why don’t we set a series of challenges, to see if we can get you out of your comfort zone?

The title of this blog is WillCycle, so of course cycling will feature heavily in these challenges. Obviously, you’re free to do as many (or as few) of these challenges as you want, and nobody will check up on you.

However, I think you will find these challenges will enrich your life, and frequently leave you with a smile on your face.

If you do any of these, I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me know how it went for you, via the comments box. Just bear in mind that comments are moderated, to prevent spammers flooding my blog, but as long as yours isn’t a spam comment, nor derogatory (criticism is allowed, and indeed welcomed), I’ll publish it as is.

In no particular order, within this year, try and do each of the following:

  1. Go on a bike ride that is longer than any you’ve ever done before. The distance doesn’t matter (unless you’re an Audaxer, in which case perhaps give this one a miss) as long as you do your longest-ever ride.
  2. Volunteer somewhere for at least a day. It could be at a food bank, at a local bike-recycling charity, or anywhere else, but donate a day of your life to the world. IMPORTANT: While making a financial donation is all good, that cannot be a substitute for this. You can always get more money, but your most valuable commodity is time, as you cannot get more time.
  3. Buy a Big Issue. Then, ask the vendor if they’d like a warm drink, and a pasty (or similar) and get them one if they want it. Next, ask them their name, and how they ended up selling the Big Issue. Oh, and read the magazine after buying it!
  4. Go on a multi-day bike ride. It doesn’t matter if you will sleep in a bivvy on the ground, in a tent, in a B&B, or even a posh hotel, as long as there’s an overnight stay involved.
  5. Go cycle a road you’ve never been on before.
  6. Take your bike on a train, to go cycling somewhere unfamiliar to you.
  7. Book yourself onto a Bikeability course. Yes, I know you know how to ride a bike, but having someone who does that for a living objectively critique your riding style can’t hurt.
  8. Go on a night ride. It could be an all-night ride, such as Darkmoor, the Exmouth Exodus, or the Dunwich Dynamo, or just an hour-long ride locally. Oh, and by night ride, I mean on unlit, rural roads, obviously.
  9. Start your own digital scratch map, and get your friends to do the same, then compare your map with theirs. Find areas none of you have been to, then go make plans to go riding there.
  10. Find the biggest, steepest hill reasonably close to you, then ride up it. Stop a thousand times, if you have to, but ride to the top, without once pushing your bike. If you’re a fit, experienced cyclist, consider Everesting that same hill.
  11. While cycling, say hello to a total stranger, ideally when stopped at traffic lights, as some people genuinely won’t notice you saying hello while they’re cycling. Oh, and don’t worry if they don’t say hello back.
  12. Organise a bike ride. It could be for parents with babies, it could be for seasoned roadies, it could be a protest ride, or just a social ride to a café stop. Just work out the route, then put up posts on social media, or perhaps notices in a few local shops, and see who turns up.
  13. Help out a stranger, and accept nothing but thanks as payment. Oh, and random acts of kindness only count if afterwards you don’t tell anyone about it. You’re doing it to help someone else, remember, not to improve your own social image.
  14. Go skinny dipping. No, I’m not for a moment suggesting you become some sort of exhibitionist – just find somewhere quiet to go swimming (ideally wild-swimming). Remember, you can take your swimming costume off once you’re in the water, so nobody will see.
  15. If you cannot service your own bike, book yourself into a training session somewhere local to you, such as the London Bike Kitchen. There are many places that have drop-in sessions, where there’d be advice at hand. As a minimum, you want to be able to replace an inner tube, and ideally a gear or brake cable by the roadside.
  16. Go on a bike tour. It remains by far the best way to see an area. If you’ve already done everything listed above, you’ll be well-placed to do this. Find a route, or design your own, load up your bike, and go. The only thing holding most people back is themselves.
  17. Try out an ebike. Obviously, if you already have an ebike, try out a normal bike.
  18. Try out a cargo bike, but be aware they handle somewhat differently to normal bikes.
  19. Convince a normally non-cycling friend, neighbour, co-worker, or relative, to go on a bike ride with you.
  20. Try out a totally different style of riding. If you ride an MTB off-road, try a road bike on the roads, or vice versa.

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