Meet the man who has biked every day for three years straight
By: Adam Malmanger
I have always biked. I even still have my first trike, rusted out and sitting in front of my house as decor. And I remember the day my dad drove up the lane with my first 20-inch Huffy. Around 2010, I was living in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and would bike “around town,” which meant following the Mississippi River to Sauk Rapids, Sartell, St. Joseph and Waite Park. In 2012, I test-rode and purchased my first bike-shop bike, and a few years later acquired my first road bike. In 2016, I was able to relocate to the North Shore. That winter I purchased a fat-tire bike and decided I had enough bikes for all the seasons. For the longest time, I wanted to bike 2,000 miles in a year, but I never did it. That’s only because I never went for it, pushed for it, or did the math or planned for it.
On March 31, 2019, I joined a riding group with my local bike shop, Spokengear, which introduced me to something big: 30 Days of Biking. It’s a challenge to ride every day in the month of April, any distance, as long as you get to pedaling. And it involves sharing your experience online, which brings us all together without actually being together, and allows us to be a part of something. The premise is that once you’re going, you will crave more, and you’ll prove you can get through it all, being that April in Minnesota is a blend of all conditions and weather. The 30 Days of Biking challenge, started by Patrick Stephenson, has been around for over 10 years and is now a worldwide phenomenon.
Maybe we don’t know what we are capable of until we push. It’s a numbers game and a mind game. I have heard it takes 21 days to form a habit. Once my first 30 days was complete, I saw no reason to stop. It was addictive and a way to bring me to the Big Lake that I would hate to take for granted. I live in a beautiful area; people come from all over the world to experience what I can experience just down the street. I take photos along the way to showcase the beauty of biking and the North Shore. If I don’t experience the Lake, then what was the point of relocating to such a beautiful area?
Once I was riding every day, attaining the goals became easier. I finished out the year 2019 at over 2,700 miles, with no signs of stopping because we were only three months away from a one-year anniversary before April started again. It’s a never-ending “cycle.” My goal for 2020 was to ride every day that year, and I was looking to hit 4,000 miles. My 2021 goal was to ride again every day and hit 5,000 miles. I don’t really know if I have a solid number planned for 2022, and I’m already behind last year’s start.
Many people think of biking as exercise. I don’t think I have ever thought of it that way. Biking is so much more than exercise — it is a sense of freedom, accomplishment, joy, suffering, adventure, therapy, self-care, escape and experience. I do not think it can be defined by one word.
Chasing the rising and setting sun seems to be a motivational piece to my daily rides. I always feel like my best days are when I can wake up and get on the bike and 10 minutes later be rushing to the lake to experience a colorful cloud cover worthy of a wall painting. I can easily lose that motivation when my mind is telling me I’m too tired, but I never regret not listening and just going for it. In fact, the only regret I have is when I hit the snooze button.
Photographing the North Shore and bicycling go together so well. Biking transports me to places I can’t walk or drive to. It’s a different point of view. Some of my best experiences have been out on the breakwall under the gorgeous clouds and surrounded by the largest lake. It’s hard to describe how beautiful it is. The pictures and videos I capture only do so much justice.
I advise everyone to do something you love every day. Honestly, you only have today; it is really the only day you exist. Tomorrow never comes and yesterday is in the past. Spending just an hour a day for yourself is only 4% of your day. It’s a numbers game: how do we spend it? We need to make our lives a priority.
I’m not really doing anything special. It’s just a bike ride. I’m just doing it, going for it, proving to myself that I can accomplish what I set out to do, and sharing it along the way to showcase the beauty these experiences bring me. And if others can find enjoyment in what I do, that is fantastic. Not everyone has this opportunity, so I am truly blessed to do what I do. Plus, there are others out there with longer streaks, and others who put on way more miles. I’m just on my path, my journey, my experience, my adventure, my escape, my ride.
Some days are harder than others, emotionally, physically, whether in sickness or in health. I don’t want a bad day or bad weather to be what brings my streak to a screeching halt, so I pedal on. Also, a bike ride can be the cure for a bad day.
A few hurdles that come to mind occurred at the end of 2020. It was a few days before the new year and I had made it down to the lake and dismounted to take some photos. When I jumped back on with too much torque, I broke my chain. I had to walk my bike home. But I got it to the local bike shop before work, where it was fixed up by sunset the next day. Then there was the time when I fell off the breakwall into the big lake. I started the long walk home — till I ran into a friend who drove me the rest of the way and then later fished my bike out of the lake. I guess I’ve mentioned mind games a lot; they can be a hurdle. Like everyone, I have days when I’m exhausted or have other reasons to not do something, but I’ve found my experiences are what get me over these hurdles. When in doubt, I pedal it out.
To sum it up, biking is just a self-powered, cathartic adventure that tantalizes my mind, body and soul. I am just trying to document that adventure. Biking seems to be leading me closer to something mile by mile. I am not sure what that is or how many more miles I have got to pedal, but I would like to find out someday, and that is my adventure.
Read more of our stories in Issue 22 of Lake and Company.