I Biked 30 Miles for the First Time in 20 years. Here’s What Inspired Me.

Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief
March 25, 2024

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ANTIGUA, WI - My PE teacher forewarned me that keeping fit gets harder after 30 but it seemed so distant then. Yet here I am and he was so right. In 2004 I was 14 years old and physical education was my world. 

It wasn't just about being active but being part of something bigger. Training and walking onto the cricket field with the West Indies team, meeting legends like Brian Lara - it was more than excitement. It instilled in me a deep sense of discipline and focus that I’m carrying through life.

From football to basketball, rugby to hockey, and especially cycling, I was all in. And I relished and repeated the 32-mile round-trip bike ride to see school friends each Summer, constantly pursuing the longer more scenic route.

But those appreciated rides became memories as school gave way to university and then a career. Suddenly, I’m on the approach of 34 and realising I'm much further from my wellness goals than I had hoped to be.

Fast forward to today and it was ASICS' New Personal Best campaign that reignited a spark in me. Not only making me reflect on my 14 year-old biking fanatic self but helping me resolve to embark on a 30-mile bike ride for the first time in two decades. In Antigua, on my Brompton. 

Approaching Fig Tree Drive. Photography by Jason Papp ©

What is ASICS’ New Personal Best Campaign?

The ASICS New Personal Best campaign has been running since World Mental Health Day in October 2023. Amongst 2,000 people aged 18+ in the UK, independent research was conducted by OnePoll in August 2023. According to ASICS charity partner, Mind, the campaign aims to help ‘people to focus on how exercise makes them feel rather than on running stats, encouraging more people to move for their mental health.’ 

And ASICS said, “We're redefining a personal best to focus on how exercise makes us feel.​ Research shows that millions of people are discouraged from exercising because they find the sports industry intimidating. ​That’s why we’re championing a more welcoming exercise culture, capturing and celebrating the mental benefits of exercise.”

Ever caught yourself saying: ‘New year, new me.’ ‘That’s it, I’m giving it up,’ ‘This is the last sugary thing I’m eating.’ ‘By December I want to be this weight?’ Agh, the pressure. 

According to The Washington Post, “New Year's resolutions have a bad reputation, at least in part, because people tend to grade themselves pass or fail.”

And, a recent poll by Forbes Health and OnePoll backed this up. Their survey of 1,000 U.S. adults (conducted on Oct. 23, 2023) looked at Americans’ attitudes surrounding resolution setting and what types of goals were prioritised.

The poll found that out of the 1000 respondents, “86% say their New Year’s resolution will have a positive impact beyond 2024. 29% say that their resolution will have a positive impact for one to two years, and 57% believe it’ll have an impact for three years or more.”

But what are the facts? 

Forbes’ poll found that ‘the average resolution lasts just 3.74 months. Only 8% of respondents tend to stick with their goals for one month, while 22% last two months, 22% last three months and 13% last four months.’

Perhaps you’ve already made resolutions for yourself.

As a brand marketer, we are straight back at it in January—strategy planning, budget meetings, agency briefings, product launches, statistics, and stock prices. 

Commenting on the strain brand marketers face, Gary Vaynerchuk told THE GOODS, “I don't think the majority of people in our industry realise how much of a toxic relationship they have with their job...It's abusive. I really do think it is. I genuinely believe the ad world is not happy, and I think it has a lot to do with the way we do work, how we celebrate and what we celebrate....I think it has a lot to do with fear. I think it has a lot to do with Wall Street DNA, you know, our clients are scared too. Hurt people - hurt people. They're yelling at us because they're scared for their job.” We ask why. “Because you have to be measured every 90 days in the stock price.” 

And coupling KPIs with ‘January’s reputation for being the most depressing month of the year, as the post-Christmas blues kick in,’ according to Priory, resolutions are not exactly set up for longevity. 

Richard Branson says, “The only way to make resolutions stick is to keep repeating the habits until they become your lifestyle.”

Personally, I’m not one for resolutions. I feed off an inspiring message, a quote, a challenge and envisage finishing what I set out to achieve. 

And, I haven’t cycled beyond 10 miles since my teens. Throw in taking THE GOODS from print to online in addition to client work, last year meant a whole Summer of long days into the evening sitting down and working. Have you been there? You pick up the bad habits - not enough screen breaks, walks, not to mention the questionable food choices. 

Antigua couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ve been using our Brompton Bicycles a lot to get around: short rides to the beach with my Brompton Borough Waterproof Backpack clipped on the front.

At the weekend, my dormant passion was rekindled. I took out my Komoot App, which had been lost in the App library on my iPhone for a while. I looked at a route around a section of the Island that would take my Brompton and I beyond the city. And, ignoring the suggested finish time, I thought, ‘I am going to do my New Personal Best.’  

What transpired? A stunning 30-mile ride across this Caribbean paradise. 

As I unfolded my Brompton, I imagined the incredible views, even the pain, the accomplishment and the people I would meet along the way. And so it began. A 30-mile bike ride taking in views and sounds of the Caribbean Sea, luxury hotels, local village folk, steep inclines and stunning rain forests with those mountainous views. 

Views from Fig Tree Drive, Antigua. Photography by Jason Papp ©

The challenge was daunting, echoing the fears and hesitations that ASICS' research highlighted: the intimidation of exercise and the alienation from an industry focused on peak physical performance.

Amidst the emerald waters and lush rainforests of Antigua, my ride became more than a physical test; it was a mental expedition. 

Approaching Morris Bay. Photography By Jason Papp of THE GOODS ©

The highs and lows mirrored those of any strenuous journey, with moments of doubt giving way to bursts of exhilaration. This ride was my personal victory over the daunting image of exercise that I had created, a testament to ASICS' vision of a more mentally aware sports culture.

And, there were moments when I felt like giving up and turning around. 

What your mind says is fascinating when you’re halfway up a hill at 27 Celsius. I distinctly recall the words ‘I’m not sixteen anymore. Why am I doing this to myself?’ passing through my mind. But again, this was my ‘New Personal Best’. I pushed on. I took time to enjoy the views along the way, rested, stayed hydrated, and practised positive affirmations. 

The View of Curtain Bluff from Old Road. Photography by Jason Papp of THE GOODS ©

I knew if I could finish this it would not only build my resilience but a sense of achievement. I could say I cycled my Brompton some 30-miles across Antigua and saw the most magnificent things. 

Thanks to Mary, a local from the village of St. Mary's, Carlisle Bay. Mary helped me document my reaching the halfway point. Photography by Jason Papp of THE GOODS ©

Also, thanks to the street vendors and people along the way who admired the Brompton - “Wow, man. That bike fold?” “Wah, love the bike,” or generally offered words of encouragement for attempting the course.

Carlisle Bay. Photography by Jason Papp of THE GOODS ©
Carlisle Bay. Photography By Jason Papp of THE GOODS ©

What does ASICS’ research show us about our relationship with exercise?

The Independent research conducted in the UK by OnePoll in August 2023 resulted in: 

  • 68% of Brits who don’t exercise feel too embarrassed to go to the gym because they don’t think they fit the mould of the 'typical’ exerciser. 
  • 78% of respondents don’t find sports adverts motivating, and 33% say adverts actually put them off exercising. 
  • 42% admit that seeing boastful exercise posts on social media makes them feel like a failure before they’ve even started exercising. 
  • 40% of respondents believe the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ still applies when it comes to exercise. 
  • Over half (55%) of respondents said they are more likely to exercise if they see everyday people represented in sports adverts.

What’s to be respected about ASICS’ campaign is the ‘New Personal Best’ features real people moving for their mental health. 

Talking of the motives for the campaign, the fitness brand said, “For years, the sports industry has been telling us that the only thing that matters is a faster time, a longer distance, and more reps. ​Although meant to motivate, research shows that millions of people avoid exercise because they find the world of sport and exercise intimidating.”

Intentions Instead of Resolutions, What Six Lifestyle Hacks Can You Implement in 2024?

Mindful Breaks During Work:

Incorporate short, mindful breaks into your workday. This could be a 5-minute break, deep breathing exercises, or a brief walk. 

Wellness Benefit

These breaks help reduce stress and increase focus, leading to better decision-making and creativity in your marketing strategies.

Regular Physical Activity:

Aim for regular, moderate physical activities like pilates or a brisk walk. Even a 20-30 minute session can be effective. ASICS says, “15 minutes and 9 seconds could be all it takes…” 

ASICS Tip: Why not leave the car on the drive and make all local journeys less than a mile on foot? It also saves money and is better for the environment so it's a win/win.

Wellness Benefit: 

Physical activity reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of endorphins, improving mood and energy levels. This can enhance your overall productivity and work performance.

Scheduled Downtime: 

Set aside specific times for non-work-related activities that you enjoy. It could be reading (something aside from industry press), a hobby, or spending time with family and friends.

One thing I am loving right now is BBC Sounds’ Desert Island Disks. Lauren Laverne’s interview style is guaranteed to captivate you. 

Wellness Benefit: 

Engaging in leisure activities can prevent burnout, improve mental health, and offer fresh perspectives, which is crucial for creative brand marketing.

Healthy Eating Habits: 

Opt for nutritious meals with a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, especially during busy workdays. I’m finding eating a couple of almonds a day beneficial. Read Holland and Barrett’s guide to why almonds are so good here. 

Wellness Benefit: 

Good nutrition supports brain function, improves concentration, and maintains energy levels throughout the day, all of which are essential for our demanding careers.

Digital Detox:

Regularly disconnect from digital devices, especially before it's time to turn off the lights at night.

Wellness Benefit: 

Reducing screen time can lower stress, improve sleep quality, and reduce the risk of digital eye strain. Better rest leads to improved cognitive functions and creativity.

Ergonomic Workspace Setup: 

Ensure your workspace is ergonomically set up to prevent physical strain.

Wellness Benefit: 

An ergonomic setup can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal issues, increase comfort during long working hours, and enhance overall productivity.

Integrating these wellness practices into your routine allows you to manage stress more effectively, maintain high energy levels, and enhance your creativity and productivity.

What Brompton Did I Use to Explore Beyond the City?

The Brompton* I chose to ride was the 12.2kg, 6-gear C-Line with a hand-brazed steel frame and Schwalbe marathon racer tyres. 

Its lightweight yet robust frame and efficient 6-gear system performed admirably on the long ride. The C-line provides a comfortable and reliable experience even across the challenging terrain of Antigua's varied landscapes.

What Sneakers did I Use? 

I wore my trusty ASICS Gel trail running shoes along with my custom insoles. The stability of the shoe and strong sole built for rugged terrain offered a comfortable shoe to pedal hard up the hills. 

Photography by Jason Papp of THE GOODS ©

Lessons Learnt. 

From this experience, I have been reminded that wellness is not a year-start ritual; it's a continuous journey of mental and physical nourishment. And, welcoming my own 'Personal Best' has shifted my perspective. 

Teaching me the value of measuring progress against my own yardstick rather than others'. 

Are you working towards a new personal best? Get in touch, I’d love to hear how you do!


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Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief