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Powered by Strava, the 2011 KOM Challenge was a climbing competition that was designed to be fun and highly rewarding. Over 8000 riders worldwide particpated, ranking up millions of feet (meters) of altitude (and attitude) over the 12 months. This individual, team and bike shop competition was brought to you by Studio Velo Cycling.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Flourishing on a Bike

A recent article in the New York Times Science section by John Tierney about how we understand “happiness” considers a state of mind and body many cyclists already experience  - a concept the ancient Greeks called eudaimonia, roughly translated as to “well-being” or “flourishing,” This idea forms the basis of a new book by Dr. Martin Seligman, called Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. Tierney writes “He (Seligman) has also created his own acronym, Perma, for what he defines as the five crucial elements of well-being, each pursued for its own sake: positive emotion, engagement (the feeling of being lost in a task), relationships, meaning and accomplishment.

What struck me (as how this applied to my experiences as a cyclist) was Seligman’s notion that “Well-being cannot exist just in your own head, Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment.”

Measuring “accomplishment” in the past for cyclists was either tedious or anecdotal and unless you were racing, difficult to compare against what other riders were doing. Early cycling computers such as Cateye were a start (one year I logged every ride in a little notebook) but ultimately yielded little in the way of actionable comparisons.  GPS devices and Strava have changed that. It’s pretty amazing, really, that we can dial up our data and look at it every which way. We can mag glass the numbers from the personal accomplishments to the club standings to comparing with every participant on Strava worldwide.  Then throw in an event like the KOM Challenge and that ratchets up the motivation a couple notches more. We can only hope the programmers over at Strava are cooking up more ways to slice and dice the numbers (age groups, road and MTB divisions, club size…etc.).

Our club has seen four different riders take KOM so far, and we may have a fifth for May. One rider made it a personal challenge to do 100K in a month (done) - is that motivation? For him, for others, for me? Yes times 3. Does riding in a club build good relationships? Do fish swim? Could cycling solve the world's problems...?

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