man and touring bike with ocean backdrop

Palpable and Priceless

Recently I completed 1,000 consecutive days of riding my bicycle an average of 17 miles each day. During those 1,000 days, I cycled an average of 90 minutes each day. The cumulative mileage ridden totaled 17,907 miles–enough to have cycled almost three-quarters of the way around our planet.

I understand such consistent focus is called a “streak.”

man wearing bike helmet on bike trail

Stephen McKenney Steck

I Googled the phrase “notable cycling streaks.” In less than a second, 279,000 search results appeared.

A brief look at a few of the search links made me realize my 1,000-day streak places me in the “slacker” category, at least compared to a cyclist who has ridden 24 consecutive years or 8,760 days.

My streak standard of measure is not complicated. I ride daily and for at least 30 consecutive minutes per day. When not on a tour, I cycle alone and in the early morning hours before full sunrise. I’ll allow myself the use of an indoor stationary cycle if need be, though that’s not yet happened. I can stop after the first 30 minutes, say for attending a church service or meeting a friend for coffee, and then I resume whatever route I’m on until I’m done for that daily ride.

Two to four times per year, I ride in organized events or on solo cross-country rides. The streak applies here, too. On cross-country rides, I do take a break on the 7th day, but still maintain my streak commitment on that “rest” day by cycling the requisite 30 minutes.

I keep a journal in a spreadsheet-like format recording usual stats like speed, miles, moving time, heart rate, calories burned, etc. I link each day’s results to a cumulative total so I can easily see my streak results.

grandpa and grandson with beach behind them

Stephen with his grandson, Lawson Stephen Horner

Here’s the important point: I credit CyclingSavvy courses for giving me the confidence to safely navigate urban, suburban and rural country roads. Without their incredibly helpful instructors, cycling and my streak would never become something I look forward to each day and each mile.

I admit to being fascinated by the streak concept — not only the derived physical and emotional benefits, but also what I learn about managing my own “system resources” like nutrition, rest, heart rate, conditioning, bike fit, concentration and applying what I observe to my newfound interest in cycling centuries (100-plus miles as one daily event). I’m likely to turn these centuries into a streak-within-a-streak by cycling at least one century per month.

All of this is pretty comfortable to do as I live in Florida, where it’s possible to cycle outdoors any day of the year. I’m not sure I can maintain the century streak on a cross country ride as terrain and the 50-60 miles per day routine together with a full load drags me down a bit! But I’m giving it serious consideration.

I have loved cycling since I was a kid. In fact, at age 14, I held Florida’s title as the state’s second fastest junior road-bike cyclist of 1957. I don’t boast too much about this as there were only 3 of us in the final deciding race. I knew I couldn’t out sprint the ultimate winner, and the remaining cyclist crashed on the last mile. Thus I claimed second place by simply crossing the finish line!

By my late teens I started a 50-plus-year career in broadcasting. Soon, I grew away from cycling because of challenging career opportunities and building a family. At age 55 I took up marathon running until I retired from work at age 64. Proudly, I’ve completed all 67 marathons in which I ran. I’m a member of the U.S. 50 State Marathon Club and the 7 Continents Club (yeah, including Antarctica!).

highlighted text bicycling and soaring spiritsWhy do I streak? I’m a persistent guy and don’t shy away from challenges. Upon retirement, I drifted back to cycling with a desire to ride across the United States. Getting in condition for such long daily rides led me to realize that I had cycled 20 to 30 days in a row. I wondered how long I could maintain such a practice and only then realized that’s a streak!

After 1,000 consecutive days, you can appreciate the benefits. For instance, I’m the hero of my medical doctors when compared to their more sedentary patients. My mental health is always enhanced when I’m on my bicycle. My appreciation for nature is amplified by what I see as I cycle around the country and in my own community. And my spirit soars on the bicycle as the world around me unfolds –- in an embrace that’s palpable and priceless — mile after mile and day after day.

You bet. I’m gonna keep at this streak thing!

man and touring bike in front of pacific ocean at san diego

With his Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle, Steve finishes his east-to-west cross-country ride at the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, CA

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