Five Cycling Tips for Beginners in The New Year
Many of us find it difficult to start and maintain a new cycling routine despite our best intentions. Finding the time and the right places to ride can be challenging. Just keeping our bikes and gear in good enough condition to ride may not be easy. A bike in need of a sudden tune-up can throw you off your routine for weeks. And then, of course, there's that nagging voice in the back of your head, asking you if you wouldn't enjoy yourself a bit more if you stayed in bed rather than get up with the sun to go exercise.
But you've resolved that in the new year, you're going to start cycling regularly. And as part of your New Year's resolution, you don't plan to taper off after the first couple of weeks. You want your new cycling routine to be the beginning of a lifelong habit.
Five Tips for Keeping Your New Year's Cycling Resolution
Whether you plan to cycle for weight loss, greater fitness, or to push yourself, here are a few tips to get you started and help you stick with your cycling goals.
Set realistic cycling goals
Though you may be fired up from watching a recent cycling documentary or from a friend who just completed a triathlon, avoid setting huge goals at the outset. Start from where you are. That means being honest with yourself about your time, your level of fitness, and other factors that will define your cycling capacity.
Look online for cyclists similar to your profile and see if they've posted their goals online. Take a hard look at your weekly calendar and to-do list to figure out just how much time you can realistically cave out to cycle. Talk with your doctor about any health conditions you may have that may prevent you from cycling as hard or as much as you might like to. Using this information, set realistic goals that increase gradually over time.
Many people don't follow through because they're setting really lofty goals befitting a professional athlete. Or maybe their goals were a bit more modest but still unrealistic because they weren't honest with themselves about their physical capacity or obligations.
Soon enough, two days go by. Three. A week. A month and the bike remains unused in the garage. But if you set realistic and incremental cycling goals, you're more likely to be consistent and stick with your cycling routine.
Does this sound familiar? You have a set amount of time each morning to cycle, yet you find yourself scrambling each morning for clean clothes, your helmet and pads, and sunglasses. Maybe you rely on music to make it through, but half the time, you've forgotten to charge your phone the night before. Or your earbuds are on the fritz, but you keep misplacing the spares.
Even filling up your water bottle each morning takes extra time. And after too many lost minutes, by the time you get through your stretching routine, you may no longer have time to cycle. Missed sessions can be discouraging, and discouragement leads to lapsed routines. Prepare for your ride a day in advance to mitigate the risk of missing the next session.
Cycling should be comfortable
Proper preparation isn't just a matter of laying out your gear the night before. You want to make sure that you have the right gear in the first place to make your ride as smooth as possible. If, for example, your bike seat is super uncomfortable, then every ride is going to be painful.
Your discomfort will be amplified by the part of you urging you to quit if you don't get a comfortable bike seat cover in short order.
Make sure you have the right shoes, clothes, and bike accessories for a comfortable cycling session. And when an item gets worn down or lost, replace it immediately. Keeping your gear in tiptop shape is key to sticking with your cycling goals.
Get a workout buddy
Having a workout buddy can significantly improve your odds of working out consistently. Ideally, try to find someone in your area whose schedule and routine is similar to your own. Of course, use caution when approaching strangers online or in real life to work out with you. But a chance encounter at your local gym, a private message in a Facebook Group of cycling enthusiasts, and a bit of luck can be all it takes to find a workout buddy and possibly a lifelong friend.
Depending on your schedule and neighborhood, it may be nearly impossible to find someone to work out with in real life. Don't fret. Sometimes, finding a virtual workout partner can be just as effective at helping you stick to your goals.
You can share your workouts online with a friend or colleague regardless of the time of date or location in which they are performed while they share theirs with you. Mutual encouragement and even a bit of healthy competition can be just the boost you need to stick with your cycling goals day in and day out.
Track your progress
Don't just set realistic goals. Make sure you're tracking your progress each day. You can use a fancy fitness tracker, cycling app, or even keep a record of your progress using pen and paper. But seeing your efforts in black and white can help motivate you to push yourself more each day. It can provide insights into what you may need to change to get more out of each session. And it can even help encourage others with whom you've shared your fitness and cycling goals.
Setting realistic goals is the first step. But without a mechanism to track your progress, as well as consistently doing so, you're more vulnerable to discouragement, missed sessions, and an end to your routine.
Sticking with your routine no matter what
The most important part of sticking with your New Years resolution is actually to stick to it. No matter what goals you set, the progress you track, or the preparations you make, you still need to pedal day after day. And no matter how motivational your workout buddy is, you are still alone on your bike each morning, afternoon, or evening. If you just start riding, no matter how you may feel and push past that nagging voice telling you to quit, soon enough, you'll be six months, twelve months, or even five years into your cycling routine before you know it.