Sometimes life happens. Whether it’s long hours at work, increased family responsibilities, a serious injury or mental burnout, there are a ton of reasons you might need to take time away from the bike.
With a little patience and a good attitude, getting back into shape and enjoying the sport you fell in love with is easier than you might think.
Use these six tips to make your return happen:
While getting back into shape won’t be easy, it’s certainly possible. The first step in the process is to get rid of any of the excuses as to why you haven’t gotten back on the bike. Don’t worry about not being as fast or as fit as you used to be or not having the time to go out for a 5-hour ride.
Instead, concentrate on what you can do right now. If you can only ride two days a week for 30 minutes at a time, then that’s your starting point. Try not to focus on speed or mileage at first. Pump up your tires, oil your chain and focus on having fun again. You’ll get back into the swing of things soon enough.
It can be easy to forget why you love to ride. Before you decide to start getting into a routine, make a list of all the positives you get out of cycling. Write down what made you fall in love with cycling in the first place — along with your current reasons for wanting to get back in the saddle.
Whether it’s saving money by bike commuting, losing weight, having fun or challenging yourself with a local race, writing it down reminds you of all the great things about the sport and serves as motivation during those days when you don’t feel like riding.
Riding solo can be hard when you first get back on the bike, and logging miles alone can make it easy to concentrate on how hard it is to get in shape. A better way to go about getting back into cycling shape is to join a few group rides.
Socializing on the bike with friends or like-minded cyclists on at a local club is a great way to have fun and take your mind off the difficulty. You’ll have good conversations, challenge your friends to a few good-spirited sprints and get to hang out afterward at your favorite local coffee shop. This not only can make it easy to slip back into the cycling lifestyle, but you’ll also get fit more quickly by forcing yourself to hold that wheel of the guy or gal in front of you.
Setting SMART goals is a good way to get motivated and keep track of progress. As you begin cycling again, start with goals that are easy to obtain. It could be something as simple as riding three days per week, commuting to work one way by bike or tackling a long weekend ride with a friend.
Once you accomplish these goals, set a few that are more difficult to conquer but will motivate you to ride a little further. Before you know it, you’ll be aiming for that local century ride or Gran Fondo.
Doing something on the bike you’ve never done before is a good way to start fresh and build momentum. Maybe it’s a local race or a bike vacation to France you’ve had on your bucket list for years. Whatever it is, set your sights on doing something new and work toward making it happen.
Taking up a new discipline can also be a good way of mixing things up and gaining a fresh perspective on the sport of cycling. Seeking gravel roads, buying a mountain bike or signing up for a cyclocross event in the winter are all good places to start. Trying something new could also be something simple, like trying new routes instead of hopping back onto those old familiar ones that led to mental burnout.
Is there a new pair of cycling shoes you’ve been wanting, a nice restaurant you’ve wanted to try or a massage in your future? Like anything, rewarding yourself for your hard work can help with that initial motivation.
Pairing something difficult (or even a workout you’re dreading) with a positive also makes it more likely for you to tackle that not-so-fun part of the deal. After a while, you’ll find the true reward for getting back on the bike is the fitness and health you achieve from the sport, and those secondary rewards won’t be needed as frequently.