Invigorate Your Approach To Cycling
Summer has definitely come to an end; the rain is here, the nights have drawn in and in a few days’ time the clocks are going to change too. If that wasn’t enough misery for you, don’t forget that it’s only going to get colder, icier, windier and in many areas of the UK, you can expect the snow to fall.
If you’re a regular cyclist, this could mean the end of your cycling for the year…or you can take a fresh approach, follow this guide about your bike winter ready, then follow this one about getting the right gear to wear and finally, read on to find a few ways to enhance your riding experience throughout the winter!
Cycling is an activity for all weathers and if you want to cycle better next year than you did this year, then you’re going to have to put the hours in, whatever the weather. In a recent article, we identified a few steps that you can take to make the most of your rides and in this follow up article, we’re going to explain why you should be doing these things and what they’re going to do for you. In essence, we’re trying to re-invigorate your love for riding, in small steps that will help you improve your physical technique and your mental approach to the task without making it all feel like ‘training’ or ‘hard work’!
So how do you improve your cycling ability and overall outlook without entering into any unnecessary and tricky training regimes? First things first, you’re going to need to structure your time effectively.
Establish A Goal
Goals are the best way to keep yourself motivated throughout the cold, winter months and having one is the key to success. To begin with, imagine what you’d like to achieve with your cycling: is there anywhere you’ve ever wanted to travel by bike? Is there a certain competition that you’d like to enter and possibly win? Is there a charity in need of your support that you could help raise money for? Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s achievable at this stage in the game. Personally, I’d like to cycle all around the world but that’s going to take a lot more than a few months to organize let alone physically achieve!
The key to selecting an achievable goal is making sure that you can or will be able to physically do it when the time comes to achieve it, that you have enough time in your schedule to plan and prepare for the goal, that it’s something that you can build on in future and that it’s something that you can realistically take part it. Good ideas could be: riding one hundred miles in a day; competing in a race, either sprint or stamina; cycling from one iconic landmark to another or it could be as simple as shaving a few seconds off of your regular ride to work. A good goal is an achievable goal!
With a good goal in mind, you have something that you can visualize in your head; every time you put one pedal in front of the other, you’ll be moving one step closer to realizing that goal or ambition. Cycling purely for the sake of cycling is great but if you have a goal in mind, it will make a serious difference to your attitude, approach and hunger for progress.
Lastly, you should commit that ‘goal’ to paper. Write it in your diary, pencil in a date and make sure you tell someone else about it. If it’s written down, you’ll be able to remind yourself of the goal regularly; if you tell someone else, they won’t let you forget until you’ve physically done the thing. I’ve told myself a million things that I could do and they’ve never been achieved; as soon as I’ve told someone else, I almost feel like I have to do them, or I’ll lose face altogether!
Identify The Necessary Steps
This is the part where we insert the standard Rome wasn’t built in a day style advice but while we’re trying to avoid such clichés, it’s worth mentioning that that one is particularly true to a certain degree. So you have your goal in mind – great – next you need to define smaller goals or checkpoints on the way to realizing that dream. By having smaller steps on the way, you’ll definitely be able to make progress in whatever direction that you’re trying to go.
If you’re planning on smashing a target of 100 miles in a day, first of all you’ll need to establish the route; as soon as you’ve identified your route, you should then break the route down into achievable chunks, such as the first ten miles or so. Next, you should try to ride ten miles and see exactly how long it takes you. Over the winter period, your next goal should be how to complete those ten miles in a faster time or keep on adding ten miles each week or month until you finally crack the full one hundred.
Similarly, if you’re simply trying to shave time off of your regular commute, you might want to approach each day with a slightly different tactic; you might want to work on your corner speeds or your braking; you might even want to try a new route altogether.
Finally, before you can really move forward, you should make sure that your bike is the right tool for the job or if there are any modifications that you can make to make it handle better for your conditions.
During the winter, it’s easy to get stuck but with your goal in mind and smaller goals along the way, you’ll be able to ride positively from now until the moment you hit your target.
Adjust Your Mindset
The final thing that you need to remember is: whatever you’re doing, whatever your goal is and whatever you strive to achieve – don’t call it training. The moment you call something ‘training’ it will sound and feel like a chore. Going out for a ride is all about fun, excitement and adventure and that should be at the top of your list of priorities. You don’t really need to tailor your diet, you don’t need to hit the gym every other day and you certainly don’t need to feel obliged to cycle. What you really need is a damn good and fun ride – luckily that’s what cycling is all about.
Take it easy and take it slow, break your goal up into baby steps and you’ll be on the way to meeting it in no time at all. Each time you cycle, you get a little bit fitter and the fitter you become, the further you can push yourself.
Don’t spend the winter waiting for summer; make your dreams a reality starting from today!