With power meter numbers, lactate threshold, carbon fiber bikes and detailed training plans to worry about, cycling can sometimes seem like a pretty serious sport. Instead of listening to what the pros and experts are recommending, sometimes doing less of what you’re told to do can be the key to riding more and being happier on the bike.
If you’ve ever found yourself dreading workouts or not wanting to get out on the road for those early morning rides, a change in your cycling philosophy might be just what you need.
Here are five ways to mix things up and achieve true cycling bliss when you’re in the midst of losing your love for the sport.
GET RID OF CYCLING METRICS
Faster, faster, faster. That’s what cycling is all about, right? With all the technology we have available, it can be really easy to get wrapped up in the numbers, so much so that the screen on your handlebars flashing your metrics becomes more important than the scenery around you.
If you’ve found your love for the road diminishing, remove your power meter and GPS cycling computer from your bike for a few rides and focus on enjoying yourself. Pay attention to the scenery, how beautiful the weather is and how much fun it is to zoom down a hill. This philosophy might not make you one mile per hour faster, but it will make you happier.
STOP TO HYDRATE AND FUEL
Shaving 800 grams of weight off your bike and components can be pretty expensive. But you know what else on your bike weighs about that same amount and can easily be done away with? The second water bottle and cage you don’t really need. While I’m not advocating dehydration or doing away with fluid consumption while you ride, one water bottle is really all you need unless you’re racing or venturing out into the wilderness where you’ll have no other option.
The reason for this is simple, and it comes from a European philosophy that the less fluid and food you carry, the more you’ll stop at your local café to refuel. Even though you might think this will kill your ride time, cold water, warm tea, coffee or a toasty ham and cheese croissant taste a whole lot better than hot water in a plastic bottle and dry energy bar. We’re also willing to bet the short, frequent stops with your ride partners make you enjoy your ride just a little bit more.
RIDE A BIKE THAT’S NOT FAST
There will always be a faster bike, faster wheels and a more aerodynamic kit. Instead of getting caught up with what’s on your bike and the gear you don’t have, take a step back and keep in mind you can make yourself just as tired and have just as good of a time with lesser components and a cheaper bike frame.
In fact, downgrading components when it’s time for a new drivetrain can be one way to ensure you’re not getting caught up with the latest superbike you saw that pro in the Tour de France riding. Riding a bike is about getting in shape, being healthy and having fun — and you can surely do that with a Shimano 105 groupset just as easily as with the latest ultra-expensive Shimano Dura Ace Di2. And the good news is, you’ll save a boatload of money.
TAKE SHORT RIDES OFTEN
Only riding your bike when it’s time for that group ride hammerfest or 4-hour ride on the weekend can quickly lead to burnout. To combat taking all your rides too seriously, it’s important to ride your bike for nothing more than pure enjoyment.
Whether it’s a ride around the neighborhood with your child, a quick commute to work or an evening ride around town with a friend, get on the bike whenever you can and have no goals in mind. Focus on having fun, being outdoors and appreciating the fact you’re not having to deal with the stress of being inside a car or the speed you can maintain on a training ride. This is the quickest way to remind yourself why cycling is awesome and the reason you fell in love with riding your bike when it still had training wheels.
RIDE WITH OTHERS
Sure, you can have a lot of fun riding your bike alone. Sometimes it might be just what you need to relax your mind and clear your thoughts. But there’s also something to cycling with others that can make you happy and shouldn’t be ignored. After all, sharing something you love with others is almost always better than doing it alone, and the memories you create are the ones you’re likely to remember 20 years down the road.
Teaching a kid to ride a bike, getting a non-cyclist friend to go for a ride or just getting together with your other cycling guys and gals for a leisurely workout are all things you should try to do as much as possible. Whether you realize it or not, we’re willing to bet you’ll be spending a whole lot more time smiling when it might otherwise be easy to get caught up snarling at cars turning in front of you while you try to hammer out one more set of intervals during rush hour.