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.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Jim, I’ve heard your concern many times during decades 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.
Get on a year-round training plan. If you understand how each day of the week, month and year is important in the total fitness picture, it’s easier to get motivated for workouts even in the dead of winter. I attempt to help you create an ongoing program in my eArticles and eBooks. They have guidelines or actual weekly plans that work for three levels of riders (fitness, fast recreational, competitive). And the RBR Bookstore has many more useful titles covering every aspect of training, nutrition, skills, etc.
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 fire-road 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 trout 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.