Three years ago Marvin completed an extensive study into the motivations of amateur cyclists. Over 600 people responded to a questionnaire asking them what drove them to spend so much time and energy on their bike.
The following 9 tips were distilled from the 600 replies, with a little bit of Alpine Cols experience thrown in:
1. Set goals
This is the single most powerful tool for motivation. If there’s no reason to ride, why bother, especially when it is cold or wet? Goals come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from the long term (ride the Haute Route in 2015) through the medium term (ride 750 km this month) to the short term (do 10 repeats on my local hill tomorrow). Generally speaking, the more specific and measurable, the better, but almost any goal is better than none.
What are your goals? How could you tighten them up?
2. Plan ahead
This is probably the second most powerful tool. The crucial point is that, if you plan a 3h ride on Saturday, for example, the decision is taken at the moment you make the plan. Come Saturday you don’t even think about it, you just get on the bike and go. This works even better if (a) you plan the exact time as well as the day, and (b) you plan to ride with others.
Do you have a plan? How could you improve it?
3. Ride with friends
Nobody likes to let down a friend. If you agree in advance to ride together at a particular time every week, there’s a strong chance you will be there. Besides, it is a lot more fun to ride with others than on your own. The only exception is when you need to do some very specific training.
Do you regularly ride with friends? If not, why not join the local club?
4. Vary the training/the route
Too little variety can get really boring. Mix it up, change things around! If you always go in the same direction, try the opposite direction for once. Go down that road you have never ridden. On the turbo trainer, vary the routines. Try different blocks of time, or a pyramid. Mix high cadence with low cadence in the same session. Change the music you listen to.
What could you change to inject some new life in your routine?
5. Visual cues
Use visual cues as regular reminders of your goals. You might print out your event logo and stick it on the fridge door, or use a suitable photograph as your desktop image or mobile phone screen-saver. Some people change their computer passwords to act as a constant reminder. An example of this might be 0407Marm0tte! (the Marmotte is on July 4th in 2015).
What visual cues could you use?
6. Watch a motivational video
In spite of all this, you really don’t feel like getting out? How about watching five or ten minutes of cycling videos on YouTube? Choose something that will help to motivate you: a “how-to” climbing video if you need to work on climbing, or a clip from a Tour de France summit finish. There are some great videos on the Haute Route that never fail to motivate us!
Which videos might work for you?
7. Trick yourself
It’s a transparent trick, but it usually works: tell yourself you’ll go out for just ten minutes, and if after warming up for ten minutes you still don’t feel like riding, you’ll turn around and come home. So far, it has never failed for us: once actually out on the bike it feels too good to stop.
8. Reward yourself
When all else fails, resort to good old-fashioned bribery. Promise yourself a large slice of cake or a serving of toast and honey when you get home. If you are feeling low on energy, you can even reward yourself before going out: eat one of your favourite energy bars in advance. Not only will this give you an energy boost but also you’ll feel too guilty not to go out!
What sort of bribe works best for you?
9. Focus on the fun
Last on this list but by no means the least, remind yourself why you are a cyclist. If you can’t visualise yourself enjoying it there is something wrong. Perhaps you have overdone it and overtrained. If your body is telling you to take a rest you might do well to listen to it. Take a break for a couple of days, apply tips 1 through 8 and you’ll soon be back on the bike.
Any important tips we missed? Please add them below.