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Challenge Profile: Polly VanDerWal

Her husband kept poking fun of her “stationary bike,” so Polly VanDerWal decided to join his National Bike Challenge team.

VanDerWal, of Hereford, AZ, is sure showing him: She’s currently the No. 1 rider in the state of Arizona. On her Specialized Sequoia Elite, VanDerWal has ridden with ease past goal after goal. She’s already logged more than 800 miles — and at the Challenge’s end, she hopes to finish a Century ride. 

I caught up with VanDerWal’s impressive growth over the Challenge period. Here’s what she’s got to say:

What inspired you to join the Challenge?

My husband needed more members on his team so I joined to help his team out and things ballooned from there. 

You’ve had quite the progression in just a few months — can you talk about this “evolution by bike?”

It started out with only riding 2-4 miles each ride and staying in my neighborhood and close to home, after a week or so it wasn’t enough so I upped it to I think 10-12 miles each ride and ventured away from the home and riding alongside traffic. From there it just took off and now I am averaging about 25 miles each ride and always on the lookout for new routes and places to add a mile. 

What does bicycling mean to you?  

Freedom, I don’t work so it gives me time away from the house and gets me out in the fresh air, it challenges me to push that little bit harder, not only while riding but in other parts of life too. 

You rode 700 miles last month and are No. 1 in Arizona! Tell us about your month of July on your bike.

July was full of challenges for me, as soon as I completed one I set out to try for another. I challenged myself to try for a 25 mile ride, did that and set a 30 mile challenge, did that so set a 50 mile challenge. Ended up riding three 50 milers, one split and two were 50 miles start to end. I challenged myself to ride everyday for the National Bike Challenge and I challenged myself to ride a minimum of 500 miles throughout July and I ended up riding 702. Once I made it into the top 10 for Arizona in the National Bike Challenge I challenged myself to stay in the top 10. It was tough but so worth the effort. 

Where do you go from here?

I would like to work my way up to ride 1,000 miles in one month and I would like to do a century ride in one go. I am also hoping that friends, family and even strangers will see my accomplishments and it will inspire some of them to get out on a bike, too. 

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