Living the bike life is pretty simple, but it goes without saying that having a few guidelines, to aid you in your journey, is never a bad thing. The first such guideline is to make a habit of riding. As we come into the cold uncomfortable, it’s more important now, than ever, to have a solid riding habit. As the weather gradually descends into an apocalyptic gloom, I’m filled with the sensation that I live in a vacuum of despair. Ironically, the only thing that affirms I’m not living in such a vacuum is the fine grey particulate coloring the air. Needless to say, maintaining motivation to ride is tough.
I decided it best to compile a more detailed approach to creating and preserving a riding habit. To start, let’s talk about goal orientation.
Give yourself a basic goal. Contextualize your goal. If you’re starting out, don’t aim too high. If you’re a veteran bike lifer, use past achievements and seasons as indicators for where to go. One little trick I use is to view my goals in a different lens, that of an objective. When you don’t meet an objective it doesn’t sting so bad as not hitting your goal. One feels more like a target, the other a direction.
Objectives need to be multifold. It helps to have a couple running, yet complementary, objectives in mind. For instance, you can aim to ride 50/100/200 kilometers per week. Pulling this off is easier, if you make a clear goal to also ride a certain number of days a week. It breaks your objective up into more manageable chunks. If it’s looking like you’re going to miss one, you still have the option to hit the other. Don’t limit yourself to just these two suggestions. Some other ideas for helping hit a riding objective is longest distance in a single ride, elevation climbed, or aiming for a certain average pace. They don’t even have to be stats oriented. Make it your goal to ride one new route a week.
Another motivator of the objective flavor, is peppering your routine with external goals. Having personal riding objectives is a foundational start for a good riding habit, but having an event or some shared activity built into your schedule gives you something external. Motivation arises not from a desire to do it for yourself, but also the need to do it for yourself. Got a race? You need to have a good ride habit to prepare. Going on an extended tour with a friend? It’d help if you had a few miles in the saddle to get ready. Organizing a ride? You’ll need to scout the route in advance so no one gets lost.
This last one’s huge in getting you through the tough stretches of the calendar year. Yet another thing you can do, to better handle keeping your habit, is being prepared for it all. Oftentimes that biggest damper on your riding habit is uncontrollable outside factors, like weather. Once you get a habit going, the best way to keep it is to make sure you hit the road, rain or shine. Cold? Wear another layer. Hot? Ride earlier.
There’s no easy way to dice it. Maintaining a riding habit sometimes requires grit, plain and simple. As we approach year’s end, and the season to be out riding shutters for a few months, it’s best to remember that if you aren’t where you want to be, you’re trying to get there and habit is your greatest companion.