Question: How do you keep motivated to ride? When I have a goal, like a century, I do fine. But after the ride, I lose the motivation to continue. I let a day or two slide by, and soon it has stretched into weeks and months. What’s the secret to consistent riding? — Jim R.
RBR Replies: Jim, we’ve heard your concern many times over the years of answering riders’ questions. Lack of motivation is a real problem, even for people who consider themselves to be cycling enthusiasts.
Ideally, we’d love the bike so much that the mere act of riding each day would be enough to get us out there. But as you note, one day off the bike can lead to another, and pretty soon there’s dust on the top tube.
Here are some techniques to keep you in the saddle:
Set goals. As you note, having an event to prepare for is a great motivator. Find one or create one every couple of months. For example, pledge to do a century in mid-March. Mark it on your calendar, pick the route and tell your friends. Invite them to join you. Then set up a training plan to get you to the big day in good shape. During the season you’ll be able to find organized events, but a do-it-yourself century is a good substitute when nothing official is available.
Vary the kind of riding you do. Lack of motivation is often due to boredom with cookie-cutter rides on the same old roads. Break the mold by vowing never to ride the same course twice, and see how long you can succeed. Ride on dirt roads. Seek out tough climbs. Get a mountain bike and hit the singletrack. Find a coffee shop 15 miles away and pedal there for a mid-ride snack. In warmer weather, take your fishing rod to a good stream for an hour of relaxation. Use your bike for errands. Not every ride has to be formal training in order to help you maintain fitness.
Find a group to ride with. Cycling can be a lot more fun when it’s social. Plus, you’re more likely to get on your bike and leave the house when you know there are other riders expecting you to be somewhere at a certain time. Ask around at the local bike shops near you about group rides and look for one that is the appropriate distance and average speed to make it reasonable.