Goal Setting – long and short term
Setting a goal for the year is a must to keep you riding through the winter, and to keep you focussed when the legs are tired or head is reluctant. Your goal could be event focussed, such as riding LEJOG or the Etape du Tour, or more numbers focussed, for example losing 3kg or completing your first 100 mile ride.
While many people make goals for the year ahead, they don’t think how to complete them or how to keep on track. To do this, the best way is typically to set sub-goals, for example, if your primary goal is to ride 100 miles in August, you could aim to ride 60 miles by April and 80 miles by June. Breaking it down like this makes it more achievable and helps you work towards the main aim.
Go Somewhere New
Keep your riding varied! The fun of the bike lies in the variety and sense of exploration, so try to mix up where you ride. Finding new climbs, hidden lanes, and new café stops keeps your riding fun and refreshing.
If you find you’re riding the same roads day after day, try riding out with others in your area – maybe your club – who can show you their favourite roads, or try going on an adventure. Sometimes, choosing a random town on a map within riding distance from you can make an awesome day out. Ride out there, get a coffee and some lunch, and get the train back. You’ll see somewhere new, find new routes, and the sense of achievement of a point-to-point ride is unbeatable.
Ride with Someone New
Broadening your cycling social network is good for the soul, and good for the legs. Having new people to ride with opens your eyes to new routes, new experiences, and new expertise. Bikes are a great way for making friends and so make the most of it!
Try joining a new group ride or club run and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll have new ride buddies to call upon next time you fancy a two or three-up ride. And those new buddies can help teach you new mechanical tips, show you new roads, or get you involved in different races or disciplines.
"Doing a different type of riding will keep you fresh mentally, and give you different training stimuli to contribute to your main pursuit. And if you don’t like it, at least you can tell everyone you tried it!"
Do Something Different
It’s never too late to try something new. Teach an old dog new tricks by trying a different type of riding, maybe fit your bike with some fat, sturdy tyres and get involved in the gravel craze, or fit some clip-on aero bars to your race bike and get to the local club’s 10 mile evening TT and test your pain threshold.
Doing a different type of riding will keep you fresh mentally, and give you different training stimuli to contribute to your main pursuit. And if you don’t like it, at least you can tell everyone you tried it!
Everyone wants to lose a little bit of weight or be that bit leaner. But avoid the temptation to embark on the latest ‘low this, high that’ fad, or from cutting entire food groups from your diet. Instead, eat quality, balanced meals based around vegetables, with protein and carbohydrate as supplementation. And match your intake to your daily need. Five hours on the bike? Eat up! Rest day? Maybe cut back a little.
One thing that is key to improving your health and overall weight is to avoid ready meals, so make sure you’re cooking for yourself, and keep it interesting by keeping it varied. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of cooking the same meals day in day out, so encourage yourself into different habits by trying to buy at least one or two different ingredients every week.
Get some structure
Whether one of your resolutions for the year is to enter a big event, step up your racing, or just to get stronger generally, the most effective way to do this is with structured training. Just riding your bike lots is by no means bad for you, but won’t give you the physiological boost you require.
There are more and more coaches available to you nowadays, and many price themselves so as to be very accessible for everyday riders. Failing that, online platforms such as Zwift and Trainerroad offer training plans for as little as £10/month that will give you all the structure and focus that you need.
"You get stronger when you rest, not when you train. Cycling actually breaks down the muscles, causing tiny tears that repair themselves and become stronger."
The core is key
Swapping one day on the bike with some good core and strength work will reap the rewards in the long run. Having a strong core will improve your strength in the pedal stroke, help you avoid back pains, and keep you more functional in daily life. Focussing entirely on the very specific movements of riding a bike can result in imbalances in your body and bad posture, and even a small amount of functional strength work will help round this out.
And don’t worry if you’re not a gym member. Moves such as planks, press-ups, hip bridges, and bird-dogs can all be done from home. And if you want to take it a little more seriously, just a small investment in a swiss ball opens up a whole world of other exercises you can work on.
You get stronger when you rest, not when you train. Cycling actually breaks down the muscles, causing tiny tears that repair themselves and become stronger.
Endless training without some good sofa time each week means that your body cannot undergo this rebuild and strengthening process. Whatsmore, good rest is good for the mind to keep you focussed and in love with the bike when you do ride. And, remember, that new series of Luther ain’t gonna watch itself is it?
Keep loving the bike
While training with structure and purpose is key if you want to get fit, fast, it’s also good for the soul to not ‘train’ but just enjoy the bike from time to time.
Sometimes, just riding without obsessing about the numbers on your bike computer can be a very good way of reminding yourself of the basic reason why you love the bike – the sense of freedom and exhilaration of the outdoors - and it’s essential not to lose that. So sometimes, ditch the bike computer and just ride, forgetting about stats and data.
Wear the best socks
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If you’re reading this, you have a passion for the bike. In 2019, wear that Passion On the Go with PONGO London.
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