It’s a new year and a new opportunity to reinvigorate your love of all things cycling. This year, instead of trying to conquer the world one pedal stroke at a time, try one of these simple suggestions to make yourself a better cyclist by year’s end.
1. START USING YOUR BIKE FOR SHORT TRIPS
Whether you’re a serious road cyclist or someone who rides occasionally to stay in shape, increasing how often you ride your bike can be more beneficial than you might think. No matter how far you ride, you’ll speed up your metabolism, burn more calories and be less likely to skip your cycling workouts that are more focused on fitness.
Instead of only riding your bike when you suit up for a long weekend ride, make an effort to use your bike for errands around town, the commute to work or other short trips when you’d normally drive. You’ll be surprised at how those extra miles add up by the end of the year. And perhaps more importantly, each trip you take by bike increases cycling awareness in your community and has a positive overall impact on the environment.
2. TURN SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT ONTO CYCLING
Cycling is a sport that is meant to be shared with others. While it’s true that solo cycling can be a lot of fun, riding with someone you care about can be a great way to gain perspective and spend time together.
Whether it’s a friend, spouse, niece or nephew, show them how fun it can be, teach them about the benefits of the sport and make it a habit to go on one ride with them every week. Concentrate on having fun and focus less on how fast you’re moving. In the end, you’ll benefit just as much as the person you’re riding with.
3. LEARN HOW TO DO EASY MAINTENANCE JOBS YOURSELF
One of the best feelings you can have as a cyclist is a sense of independence. While all cyclists should know essential roadside repairs that will keep you from getting stranded like changing a flat tire or replacing a link in a broken chain, learning other basic fixes can save you money and help you develop a better understanding of the machine you’re riding.
Rather than taking your bike in every time your bar tape needs to be swapped out or your rear derailleur needs adjustment, do these repairs yourself. Watch maintenance videos online, buy a basic bicycle mechanic book or ask a knowledgeable friend to teach you what to do. Whichever method you choose, you’ll find that making repairs yourself can feel just as rewarding as your accomplishments on the bike.
4. SIGN UP FOR A RACE YOU’LL HAVE TO PUSH YOURSELF TO FINISH
Cycling is about challenging yourself. If you always set goals you know you can accomplish, you’ll never figure out just how far you can go.
Whether it’s completing your first century, signing up for your first organized ride or attempting a 24-hour ultra race, challenge yourself in an event you aren’t sure you’ll be able to finish. Accomplishing your goal is only half the battle—there’s plenty you can gain just from pushing yourself beyond your limits.
5. TRY A NEW DISCIPLINE
Riding the same routes and doing the same workouts over and over is an easy way to get burned out. To keep things fresh, try a discipline of cycling you have little or no experience in. The unfamiliarity will shock your muscles, test your cardio and make you an overall better cyclist.
Mountain biking, cyclocross, gravel riding and track cycling are just a few disciplines you can give a shot this year — and it’s likely you won’t need much more gear than what you already have inside your garage. If you don’t have the necessary equipment, try bike rentals or borrow from a friend to try it out before you decide on any additional purchases.
6. GIVE A BIKE TO SOMEONE ELSE
If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a few bikes you don’t use any more. But whether or not your garage is full, giving a bike to someone else or buying an inexpensive bike for someone in need is a good way to promote and become an ambassador of the sport of cycling.