Every January, people all over the world make plans to “be more organised”, “eat better”, “exercise” or “give up smoking”, and unfortunately many fail. If you’ve decided that in 2015 you’re going to either start cycling, or cycle more, then we’re here to help make sure you’ll still be aboard two wheels come December 2015.
1) Choose a specific goal, that is achievable
Deciding to “start cycling” or “cycle more” is fairly vague – which of course makes it very hard to pin down and be aware of slippage, or celebrate success. Choose a specific goal you can actually monitor – such as “start cycling 3 days a week” or “ride 100 miles every week”.
2) Get your equipment sorted
You do not need a super duper swanky bike to start cycling – you just need one that is safe and comfortable to ride.
If cycling is new to you, and you don’t yet have a bike, you could look to use the Boris bikes until you decide if it’s for you, and if you do decide an investment is due, check out our best value road bikes (and carbon bikes under £1k if you feel flush). Remember that a bike that fits is 100 times more important than the groupset or frame material – so try to test ride the bike, and have someone in store fit you.
If you already have a bike, then it’s all about maintaining it – clean your bike regularly, and keep the chain well lubed, and you should have a lovely machine that is a pleasure to ride – clunky gears and questionable brakes will result in the bike spending more time in the shed, becoming even less pleasant to ride.
Winter weather isn’t always great fun – but just a few small pieces of kit can make a big difference, so check out some of these winter accessories to keep you warm – they won’t break the bank, but they will make a big difference to your comfort.
3) Find a ride buddy or an event
You are much more likely to stick to your goals if you make them with another person, or have a goal to keep you motivated.
If you know someone who shares similar goals to you, make a pact to ride together, and keep each other updated on progress – that way you are accountable to someone else, and they to you. Riding with a cycling club is a great way to meet like minded riders, and we rounded up some of the best London based clubs and groups here.
If you don’t currently have many riding buddies (never fear, you’ll make them quickly, we cyclists are a friendly bunch) choose an event – such as a sportive or challenge ride. Put the date in your diary, and if you’re ever tempted to slack off (riding is great fun but we all get lazy sometimes!) just remind yourself it isn’t far away.
4) Reward success
Getting out on two wheels is it’s own reward in many ways – you get fresh air, time to think, and explore the world in a way you simply can’t do by car or on foot. However, sometimes some extra rewards along the way can keep motivation high.
Got a mega ride coming up – your longest ever? Then why not invest in some new kit, or a little gift for the bike to make it feel super swish? Just completed your best ever ride? Have yourself a nice coffee stop along the way, and don’t forbid yourself a little treat, you’ve earned it!
5) Inject some variety
Sticking to a routine is good in many ways – once you get into the swing of it, for example, riding to work 3 days a week will become ‘normal’ and just as simple as eating breakfast or washing your hands. However, beware of letting your new hobby become overly routine led – and make sure you try out new routes, new riding areas, and even new disciplines of riding from time to time.
If you mainly ride on the road, but have a hybrid or MTB that can go off the tarmac, have a go – it’s great fun and excellent for your handling skills. If you have a road bike that can’t touch the muddy stuff, visit a MTB center and hire for a couple of hours – you might find yourself visiting again,
Commuting to work, particularly, can become stale if you don’t change it up – s0 if you find riding becoming a chore, change your path before you give up.
6) Track your progress
There are many ways you can keep an eye on what you’ve been up to. You could simply jot down time spent riding, or miles ridden, each day in a diary, or on a Google Calendar. However, other information, like speed, feet climbed and calories burned can be interesting to track.
If you like, you can also use Strava to record your times over ‘segments’ and compare against your own times, or those of local riders – even turning your entire commute into a segment so you can see your times drop as you become fitter. If speed isn’t your goal, a site like this will show you where, and how far you’ve ridden, on each day of the year – which we’re sure will be satisfying come early 2016.
Do you have any tips to add? We’d love to hear them…
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.