With a seemingly interminable winter dragging on here in the UK, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get out on the bike as much as we would like, but help is at hand with the return next month of 30 Days of Biking. The initiative can’t guarantee good weather, but it does provide a perfect excuse to get out and ride every day of the month – and we’re certainly well up for that.
Now in its fourth year, 30 Days of Biking was founded in Minnesota – which puts our moaning about the British winter into a little bit of perspective – and has since spread to 100 countries worldwide, with 4,000 cyclists taking part last year including Tour de France legend Greg LeMond, a resident of the state where the movement began.
So how does it work? Well, there are two pledges – to get on your bike on 1 April and ride it around the block or further afield for the next 29 days after that, and to share your stories using a variety of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube.
One thing organisers have found through analysis of social media engagement specifically on Facebook is the striking discovery that while generally cycling in countries such as the US or the UK shows a 70 per cent male versus 30 per cent female gender split, for 30 Days of Biking last year, it was 60 per cent women against 40 per cent men; women’s greater likelihood to share aspects of their lives on Facebook may explain some of that, but certainly not all.
Lois May-Miller of 30 Days of Biking UK says: “I absolutely love that 30 Days of Biking defies the norm in cycling when it comes to gender balance: 60% of our participants are women.”
“Riding a bike is a simple pleasure; the bicycle a simple, yet wonderful, machine. And 30 Days of Biking is a simple idea: ride your bike every day for 30 days – and share your experiences online in whichever ways you like.
“There’s no form to fill in, no Strava badge to collect, no certificate at the end. I like anything that cuts the crap and gets people riding a bike, and 30 days of Biking does just that.”
Another co-ordinator of 30 Days of Biking UK, Mark Tearle, commented: “You remember that feeling when you were a kid; you’d take your old battered hand-me-down bike, brakes rubbing on the wheel rims, saddle split at the seams, if you had gears only 3 of them would work, but it didn’t matter, you were off on an adventure with friends, to build a dam in the stream or to tear it up in the woods, or build a ramp out of bits of plywood you found in your dad’s garage ... that is the spirit of 30 Days of Biking.”
“30 Days of Biking is not a campaign. It is clearly pro-cycling or, as our North American chums like to call it, “biking,” but it isn’t dogmatic or polarised in any way, and I REALLY like that.”
Organisers are aiming to build on last year’s success, and co-founder Patrick Stephenson, who is based in Minnesota, has issued a worldwide call to action.
￼“30 Days of Biking is not elitist. It is not a political statement. We don’t want you to worry about whether you have the right bike, or whether your butt looks good in spandex. We just want you out there, pedalling alongside our community, whether virtually or for real.
“Our goal is not to reject cars so much as promote bikes as a viable alternative to cars. We want you to remember how riding around your neighbourhood felt when you were a kid, when a bike was your only transportation and you loved it.
“We want you to remember the freedom bicycling offers. The happiness, the independence. These things aren’t lost to the ages or the past. They’re still available. And, ultimately, they lead to a healthier life.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.