The 29 Day Challenge

On January 31 I signed up for a 29 day mountain bike challenge, #trailsforallchallenge, hosted by the NSMBA, our local North Shore Mountain Bike Association. The challenge was to bike 29 minutes every day for 29 days for the month of February in support of the North Shore trails.

The challenge was certainly going to be a challenge as flat and easy are not words to describe the North Shore trails. And to make matters worse, there was a glitch with the tracking software, Trailforks, which meant we had to make every ride at least 40 minutes to count in the challenge. 

Learnings from the NSMB Trails for All Challenge
NSMBA Trails for All Challenge Learnings
NSMBA Trails for All Challenge what I learned

So, for 29 days I rode between 40 and 90 minutes every day, averaging 300-500m elevation gain per ride while exploring the North Shore trails. I made sure to mix up my rides and keep it somewhat challenging and interesting. Some were easier and faster, some harder and more technical and then there were a few in the gnarly category to keep the ‘saw sharpened’ so to speak.

Rain or shine, sick or healthy, in pain or not, busy or not, I rode. 

NSMBA Trails for All Challenge what I learned
Learnings from the NSMB Trails for All Challenge
NSMBA Trails for All Challenge Learnings

What I Learned

 These are some of the things I learned from 29 days on the bike:


When I set a commitment to something and tell others about it, I’m more likely to follow through. There’s weight to others knowing about my commitment and I’m more likely to follow through because they’re cheering for me too.


If I decide on something that’s important enough, I’ll find the time to do it, no matter what else is going on. Day 4 and 5 of this challenge I had a stomach bug and felt so ill. All I wanted to do was lie on the couch. But I rode anyway because I’d decided this challenge was important to me.


Being part of a cause that was making an impact in my community added fuel to my commitment. The NSMBA does so much to build and maintain the trails I get to enjoy. Knowing that my donation and participation in this challenge was driving a bigger impact gave me motivation on those days when I needed it the most.


Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I can’t do it. This was hard. My body felt so sore some days, I was increasingly getting more tired and fatigued. Some days I could barely get started on the climbing trail, feeling the resistance and aching in my legs. But by persevering through those moments, I proved to myself that I could do it, I could do something really hard. And I’ll do hard things again.


If you want to get better at something, do it every day for 29 days. My riding over the last month has improved dramatically. I’m not only stronger and fitter but my skill level on the trails improved in a surprising way. I found myself going faster on the downhills, getting more air on the jumps and navigating technical sections more smoothly without the hesitation I had before. I also became more familiar with the features on the trails and the best lines to take, as I was riding them more frequently. I learned that if I want to ride a trail well, ride it lots!


Sharing this challenge with my partner Stephen brought us closer. We both committed to this not knowing what we were in for while also doing a ‘dry February’ – not a drop of alcohol all month. We both are parents of young kids, we both have full-time work, we both have full lives. Doing this hard thing together meant we were supporting one another through the harder days while also feeling energized from the fun adventures we were often having on the trails. This rich and immersive shared experience will always be a positive memory for us.


Creating a challenge to ignite people to take action in their lives is a great idea! Beyond the prizes that have been handed out (which I have not received any yet, boo hoo boo!) and the tote bag I get in the end, the real prize is the experience I’ve had, what I’ve learned and how darn strong I feel right now! The fitness I’ve gained, my sharpened riding skills, the new trails I’ve discovered, the shared experience with Stephen and the people that have joined me along the way are the prizes I’ve won in this challenge. The actual prizes are now just a bonus…that I’m still shamelessly holding out for!


You can do hard things

In closing, if you get a chance to do a challenge, if someone says hey, do you want to ride, run, walk, hike, whatever it is, for 29 days or something, do it! Even if the challenge is to walk 10km in a month. Don’t shy away from it because it’s hard. Lean towards it because it’s hard. The prize from doing it will be far beyond what you expect. 

And, you can do hard things! 

Thank you again NSMBA for the 29 day #trailsforallchallenge and for all the prizes I didn’t think I’d get.