Nine ways to keep your cycling motivation going

With more people turning to cycling for the first time, we look at how you can keep up the enthusiasm

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the last few months, we’ve seen huge numbers of people jumping on the bike for the first time.

An unexpected consequence of the coronavirus lockdown is a surge in the number of people cycling, with even celebrities like Andy Murray adopting a life on two wheels.

But as we start to see some signs of normal life returning, how can you keep your cycling motivation high?

Here are a few top tips that beginners and more advanced cyclists can use to keep their enthusiasm up:

Explore a new route

Leith Hill Octopus ride

Leith Hill Octopus ride

It’s easy to fall into a routine when it comes to your cycling routes, as we often find a climb or certain roads that we enjoy.

But often part of the joy of cycling is really exploring our surroundings, so why not consider searching out some new areas to explore on the bike.

A great way to do this is to try riding slightly further than you’ve been before as this naturally takes you to new spots, but also consider taking a different turning off down a quiet-looking road – this can often lead to finding some real gems.

Try your first training session

(Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For those riding to get fitter and faster, trying your first structured training session could be the best way to shake up your riding.

While there are plenty of workouts available online, you can also have a dig around in the options of your GPS cycling computer (if you’re using one) as they often come with a few basic intervals sessions already built-in.

Find a nice quiet and straight stretch of road or even a fairly challenging climb and try riding at intensity, then taking a short rest and repeating the process – you might find yourself setting some new personal bests in the process.

Forget the data...

We can all be guilty of over-thinking the numbers from time to time.

Whether it’s obsessing over the distance, trying to set new power bests or fretting over average speeds, cycling is full of fascinating metrics.

But sometimes focussing on the numbers can sap the fun out of the bike.

Try going for a ride without your GPS on, with no time scale and no map – just pedal and see where the ride takes you.

Or for those reluctant to leave behind all the numbers, try putting your GPS in your back pocket so you can check the numbers after the ride, but your attention is free to enjoy the ride.

...Or maybe try some new data

Scrutinising the relationship between pedalling and power (Daniel Gould)

You could try the exact opposite of the above advice.

As you delve deeper into the cycling well you’ll discover all sorts of wonderful ways of measuring your effort.

If you’re looking for a reasonable affordable way of checking your progress you can get a heart-rate monitor or if you want to splash some cash you could opt for a power meter.

Even without those tools, uploading your rides to Strava or Training Peaks will unlock a whole host of different metrics.

Join a cycling club

Due to coronavirus lockdown, most people who started cycling over the last few months have done so either alone or with a handful of people from their household.

But one of the great joys of cycling is the social life and there’s no better way of meeting like-minded riders than joining your local cycling club.

With restrictions easing many clubs are slowly starting up their group rides (with reduced group sizes) while some also hold virtual events to keep their members in touch.

Try searching out a local club to really unlock the social potential of riding.

Get some new kit

It doesn’t matter what bike you ride or what clothes you wear, as long as you’re riding your bike.

But for some making a cycling-related purchase can help you reinvigorate your motivation.

Being keen to test a stylish new jersey or a new component for the bike is a great reason to get out and ride, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Try a Zwift race

Zwift racing is a great way to test the form - but beware of overtraining (Picture: Dan Gould)

The world of virtual racing has opened up cycling in entirely new ways.

Now anyone can jump into competition with their bike, turbo trainer and a Zwift subscription.

Signing up to your first race in the real world can be a daunting experience, but with Zwift its quick and easy to test your competitive edge without fear of crashing or getting dropped.

There are Zwift races starting every few minutes across all abilities, so why not try it out?

Get a Strava subscription

(Picture: Chris Catchpole)
(Image credit: chris catchpole)

Previously you could enjoy almost all of the benefits of Strava for free, but recently the social media for athletes has made some of its more addictive features available to subscribers only.

But many Strava users will tell you, competing over segments, setting goals and analysing your data might be well worth the monthly fee.

Segment leaderboards are a great way to compare your efforts to those of other local riders and can also help you measure your own abilities as they progress.

The premium version of Strava also features extra charts and graphs to help you track your fitness.

Remember the benefits

The benefits of cycling are well-documented – improved fitness and mental health being two of the biggest.

It can be worth familiarising yourself with all of the way cycling can help make your life better (check out this article for more).

But make sure you remind yourself why you started cycling and why you continue to enjoy it.

>>> Nine tips on how to get started with gravel riding 

Often our goals and motivations change as we dig into cycling more, but there will always be a core reason why you find riding your bike so fun – so don’t forget it!

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