2017 is here and with it renewed commitments and new goals to achieve on the bike in the New Year. But, let’s be honest for a moment. No matter how much you love cycling, sometimes it can be a struggle to peel yourself off the couch or out of bed to saddle up for yet another ride. To keep your motivation fresh throughout the year, we at Contender Bicycles have compiled a list of things you can do to mix up your riding and help you stay committed to making 2017 your best year on the bike yet.
Take the Computer Off Your Bike
Far too often people experience “paralysis by analysis” on the bike. There can be too much focus on stats like power, HR, mileage, and what others are posting on Strava. Sometimes you just need to take your computer off your bike and simply enjoy your surroundings while you ride to help you realize why you fell in love with cycling in the first place.
In addition to focusing on the pure enjoyment of cycling, it is also valuable to take the computer off your bike from time to time to know how to gauge your effort based on how you feel as opposed to what the data tells you. It seems each year with bike racing, fewer folks know how to read the race and respond to what is happening on the road because they are too focused on their power profile informing them what level of racer they should be. You can produce all the power in the world, but if you don’t actually know tactics during the heat of a race, it will be hard to progress.
Limit Your Time on the Trainer
Spending countless hours on the trainer is simply too hard on the central nervous system. Constantly put under the stress of high intensity workouts, your body’s stress levels can become elevated and recovery can prove more difficult. Every year we see people who spend hours and hours on the trainer during cold weather months only to get burned out shortly after the spring cycling season begins, when summer and fall provide the best cycling of the season.
We are not suggesting you give up indoor training completely. Maintaining a level of fitness during winter months is important, but be careful not to overdo it. Spend 1.5 hours or less on the trainer and supplement aerobic work by hiking, snowshoeing, skate skiing, or snow biking. Winter is also a good time to spend some time at the gym working on muscle groups that don’t get used in cycling or tend to weaken throughout the cycling season. For riders wanting to optimize performance, it is imperative to keep these groups active and strong.
Participate in a New Event
There are so many great cycling events and races popping up, and you don’t have to be a racer to enjoy these events. Many you can enter to race or just approach as a fun event for participation. Check out the Utah local Crushar in the Tushar, Giro’s Grinduro in Santa Cruz, or the Belgian Waffle Ride in San Diego. To further mix up your riding repertoire, if you have only raced road, try a mountain bike race. See what all the hype is about and try gravel racing, which is becoming more and more popular. If you’ve exhausted the local race circuit, travel to the neighboring state for a different racecourse and new competition. Not only does a new race or event give you a solid deadline to achieve a level of fitness, training for a course you have never experienced before provides a level of “unknown” to further motivate you to get in your training miles.
Take a Cycling Trip to a New Area
New scenery adds a new experience to any bike ride. If you live and ride in the pine and aspen of the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah, driving down to Southern Utah occasionally to ride amongst the red rock and sandstone will give your eyes new vistas and scenery to soak in as you ride. If it’s in your budget, taking a trip to another state or even another country is an exciting way to add variety and excitement to spending time on two wheels. Consider touring the coasts of New England or experiencing the cobblestones, culture, and architecture of European countries. Skip the tour bus and get to know a new area more intimately in the saddle of a bike.
Try a New Cycling Discipline
Taking on a new type of riding can be a fantastic way to stay fit and motivated, learn new skills, and maybe even discover a hidden talent. From mountain biking, road riding, fixed gear riding, gravel riding, snow biking on fat wheels, BMX, to riding the bike terrain parks for those seeking an adrenaline rush, there are so many ways out there to have fun on two wheels. Forget crushing the competition on every ride, sometimes just the challenge of learning something new is enough to keep a smile on your face and motivated to hop on a bike.
Find the Road Less Traveled in Your Area
It’s easy to fall into the grind of doing the same rides time after time for your workouts. Sometimes this can take a bit of joy out of riding, experiencing the same roads and scenery each day. It’s important to get out of your habit doing the same rides in your area and instead mix things up to keep you fresh and focused on the bike. There are always new places to ride and discover, even around the Wasatch Front. We like getting out and exploring areas like Farmington Canyon or even riding places like Killyon Canyon. These areas may not provide the most exciting terrain but it is still fun to explore.
To quote Robert Frost,
Commute by Bike
Whether commuting to work or opting to bike to the grocery store, coffee shop, or other place of errand, it can be refreshing to ditch your car for a bit and get around town by bike. Not only do you save money at the gas pump and lessen your carbon footprint, you also might find yourself growing a deeper connection to your surroundings and community. It’s also a great way to help you unwind your legs after putting in some serious training miles.
Add Variety Off the Bike
Winter months are not the only time you should look to add variety to your time on the bike (see Limit Your Time on the Trainer above). Mixing up your workouts by spending a little time off the bike, even during peak riding months, is a great way to keep your time on the bike fresh. Taking the occasional break to get involved in another sport like rock climbing, hit a round of golf, or any other outdoor activity that interests you will go a long way in helping you feel fresh on the bike physically, and just as importantly, mentally.
The easy part about new goals each year is setting them. The hard part lies in staying motivated to achieve them throughout the year. Whether you are training to someday win the Tour, trying to get into the best shape of your life, or just want to be able to hang on long enough to enjoy a ride with friends, we hope the tips we have shared will help you stay motivated on the bike for 2017. For further encouragement and motivation or for help outfitting yourself for riding in 2017, feel free to call or visit us down at the shop. It’s our goal to make 2017 your best year on the bike as well. Happy riding!