On Finding the Motivation to Ride Your Bike Again
I am a cyclist. Or at least I used to be.
While I’ve been a bike nut and heavily involved in the local cycling community for years, my time spent in the saddle has seen a too-real decline in recent years. Life dealt me a few curveballs, I lost conditioning, lost motivation and slowly stopped riding bikes much at all.
Finding the drive to get back in the saddle hasn’t been easy. Now, as the days get shorter and the temperatures get lower, finding the time and motivation to actually ride, however, can be a challenge.
Especially for me.
I used to race bikes - a lot. Hundreds of miles per month, 200-plus mile rides in a day, century rides, triathlons and just about any excuse to throw on a kit were more common than not. But it all went away after an ill-timed injury was the first domino in letting my bikes gather dust.
Now, as I try to find my way to the road, I’m struggling. Not only are daylight hours in short supply, other obligations and events eat up precious availability for riding time. So how is one to get on the saddle to get that mental refresher that comes so beautifully from an outdoor bike ride?
It’s been a while coming, but I’ve made some goals and plans to remedy that problem. Here’s my plan to reacquaint myself with my bike and do so during what’s often described as the Shoulder Season.
Short Trips: I’m lucky enough to have my grandchildren (yes, I’m that old) living pretty close to me. I’m also lucky enough to have plenty of opportunities to spend time with them. Considering the short distance, I’m going to include bike commuting to my occasional babysitting duties. Even when the temperatures are cold and daylight is non-existent, a bike ride will be almost as quick and incredibly better for me than the two-mile car trip. A jacket, a set of gloves and a bike light solve pretty much every reason to not visit the grandkids by bike.
Lunch Breaks: My work days are long - I’m usually at the shop open to close from 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Eating usually takes just a few minutes and there’s about 45 minutes left in the typical lunch break and there’s no reason I can’t spend 30 minutes every day hitting the mental refresh button by pedaling around the neighborhood, enjoying the unique architecture and vibes of Salt Lake City’s 9th & 9th community and getting a few bonus miles in the legs.
Scheduled Bike Trips: Weekly voyages to bike destinations might not be possible for everyone - certainly not for me - but occasional excursions are not only good for the soul, but great for the body. I’ve made a goal of riding 30 or more miles on rarely biked roads in each of Utah’s 29 counties while also visiting each of our state’s six corners over the next six months.
To do this, I’m loading up my Subaru Outback Wilderness with a gravel bike, my phone, a few blankets, food and what’s left of my sense of adventure for trips to places I’ve never been before. They might not be the most scenic or popular places to ride a bike, but I can guarantee they’re going to be memorable rides. First up, a longer road trip to Utah’s Four Corners region where I can find slightly warmer temperatures and some uniquely beautiful dirt roads that rarely see bicycles.
Weekend Group Rides: Yes, they’re still happening. Race season might be over, but that won’t stop a handful of friends from getting together for an hour or two for some quick miles. Cold temperatures are much less intimidating when you’re with a gaggle of friends. Even if it’s just a couple of extra wheels to follow, the time and miles go by faster and the weather bites just a little less when you have a buddy to talk to.
Gear Up: We’ve all heard the saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” If you haven’t already, invest in a thermal jacket, some leg warmers, long fingered gloves, wool socks and something to cover your ears. Staying physically comfortable is the best way to have a positive experience on a chilly ride. The next time you’re ready to go, there will be much less hesitation when your last ride “wasn’t that bad.”
Reward Yourself: Need a little extra motivation to ride? Pick out a piece of bike gear or a bike part you’ve wanted for a while. Set a reachable goal and chase it. It might be total miles for a month or a season, number or days riding per month, etc. Make it reachable, but not too easy. When you cross that mark, head into Contender Bicycles and treat yourself to some new bike stuff. You’ll be glad you did.
That’s it. There’s my plan to get back in the saddle after too long away from being able to call myself a cyclist. We’re all different, of course, and have different goals and needs. But if you, like me, long for more time behind handlebars, perhaps you’ll be inspired to join me back in the saddle.
Words by Jared Eborn.