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Cycling Tips for Cycling Motivation

When you decided to climb on the saddle and take up road cycling, you probably had dreams of becoming a lean mean riding machine. The reality is often a little different as life and the weather combine to keep you off the bike.

Cycling Legend Sean Kelly riding in the SportActive peloton in Mallorca Motivation is either intrinsic or extrinsic according to sports psychologists

When you spend significant time away from cycling, life has a way of keeping it that way. Not only are you not realising the significant health benefits and feelings of achievement cycling brings, but staying off the bike is often habit forming.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how we can keep motivated to ride even in unfavourable weather conditions, and to fit it in with your life.

Cycling Motivation

Sports psychologists believe that broadly motivation is driven in two ways. They are:

  • Intrinsic – Motivation that comes from within. This covers enjoyment of the sport and progression. The sense of achievement you feel after completing a major cycling challenge such as the Mallorca 312 sportive falls under intrinsic motivation.
  • Extrinsic – Motivation that comes from recognition. This covers medals, trophies, praise, climbing the leaderboard. Strava saw a big increase in membership when it started publishing leaderboard data.

In cycling, motivation is considered to come from competing in events, social connections, and health goals. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators can drive your broader motivations. So are you cycling to get fitter (intrinsic), or to win trophies and earn praise (extrinsic). Most will sit in the middle and they are rarely fixed meaning that they can shift over time depending on how you progress.

In terms of sustainability, research suggests that intrinsic motivators have more legs (no pun) than extrinsic motivators. However, they both have value.

Motivation Ideas

  • Set Goals – Setting goals gives you something to aim for. It can be to ride a sportive or a certain distance. The key to goals is to set ones that are achievable. You may want to develop a training plan to help you achieve your goals depending on the kind of cyclist you want to become.
    Goals give you focus and are a good way of creating good cycling habits.
  • Aim for Personal Bests – Strava and similar apps make it very easy for you to track your times, and you can instantly see if you have earned a personal best. The better apps create segments and allow you to create your own. Here, you’ll be able to see your times on a particular stretch of road, and compare your times against other users of the app. It can be a great motivator.
    Subscribe to a Strava like apps to record your times, track your routes, and see how you compare to local riders.
  • Compete in a Sportive – You may not be riding in the mighty Marmotte Granfondo Alps, but a local sportive can be challenging and fun. Riding in a big event conjures special feelings and you want to do well. Once you’ve ridden your first sportive you want to ride another. This is great for your cycling.
  • New Kit – Investing in new kit whether it is clothing, components, turbo trainers and even a new bike, is a good motivator. Not only does new gear make you feel good and your rides better, but you don’t want to invest and not use the equipment.
  • Get Your Bike Serviced – Regular servicing will keep your bike on the road and deal with niggles that arise from riding mile after mile week in week out. Servicing also keeps your bike in great condition so it always has a new feel when you ride it.
  • Join a Cycling Club – Cycling clubs offer camaraderie and friendship. Providing you find a club that is a good fit for you both in terms of getting along with the other riders and the distances involved, you could soon find you’re riding more miles as you commit to the events laid on by the club.
    It is also good to ride with friends. Here, you’ll find friendly competition and encouragement. These two elements can be invaluable to progress your cycling.
  • Perfect Techniques – Whether it is braking, gear use, pedalling, sprinting, or climbing, perfecting your cycling technique will not only make you a better rider, but make your rides more rewarding. There is something satisfying when you change gears just right on a climb, or weave expertly down a long descent.
    Making the effort to perfect your techniques is a motivator in of itself.
  • Turbo Training and Spin Classes - The winter is cold, wet, and unforgiving and climbing on the saddle when the weather is not the best takes a high motivation level.
    With fewer daylight hours it becomes harder to find the time to ride. Solutions include investing in a turbo trainer and following a turbo trainer program, while the other is to start a spin class. Both help you maintain fitness and keep on the saddle no matter the weather.
  • Training Camps and Cycling HolidaysCycling holidays and training camps are a great way of improving your cycling skills and to keep motivated to ride. Some are set in great locations such as Mallorca, Spain, which has been described as a scalextric set for cyclists.
    Triaining camps and holidays are normally run by pro cycling coaches and the invaluable advice you’ll receive will help maintain your motivation. On a cycling holiday you tend to make friends too and the whole feel is one of fun. When you’re having fun you learn and make progress, and perhaps making progress is the biggest motivator of all.

SportActive Team at Cap Formentor including cycling Legend Sean KellyRiding with Legends such as Sean Kelly (left), and in large groups is a great way of maintaining cycling motivation

Keeping motivated to ride is essential, and now you have a few pointers to keep you on the saddle.

SportActive - Faster, Fitter, Stronger.

 Submitted: 17/6/21

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