With magazines & websites packed with 2021 reviews and ways to ‘achieve your goals’ for 2022, it’s a good time to think about getting more enjoyment from your riding. Rather than goals or new years resolutions (which you can do anytime…), let’s look at options to keep your riding fresh for the new year.
Depending on how your part of the world is managing the pandemic, you may, or may not, be able to get out and about, so obviously, comply with your local rules.
Ride one of the UK Rail Trails
If you just ride roads, or just ride off road, you are missing out on something. Rail trails are really worth searching out and enjoying. Mostly rideable with road bikes (maybe fatter / puncture resistant tyres if the surface is gravel). One great thing about rail trails is that they tend to be relatively flat, so having a leisurely ride with someone else means you can talk and take in the surroundings. 10 UK Rail Trails;
Forest Way – East / West Sussex
Lanchester Valley – County Durham
High Peak Trail – Derbyshire
Ystwyth Trail – Ceredigion, Wales
Deeside Way – Aberdeenshire
Marriott’s Way – Norfolk
Cinder Track – Whitby
Bristol & Bath Railway Path
Callander to Killin Cycle Route- Scotland
Camel Trail – Cornwall
Get off the Beaten Track
Swapping from road to MTB or gravel gives a relaxing traffic-free alternative to road rides. As well as the serenity of the trails and tracks, MTB and gravel riding is a great way to boost your skills repertoire too. New loops become possible by mixing terrain and including the tracks and trails in your area. The joys of mixing road and gravel have developed a whole new aspect to road cycling. Ancient Roman Roads, goat tracks and coffin roads seldom used in the modern era have seen their first action for years, partly thanks to the tech advancements around gravel biking – Get involved!
‘Top Gear’ Challenge
Set yourself (or you and your ride mates) a challenge. Why not buy train tickets somewhere far away and ride back home? Spice it up by using mainly gravel tracks or unclassified roads? Do something different that challenges you. Be realistic with challenges though, plan it well, and have an emergency backup plan, in case things go wrong.
Try riding online training platforms such as Zwift, when the weather is on-goingly aweful or if you just fancy a change. With plenty of ‘worlds’ to ride in and a whole load of virtual racing opportunities, Zwift can be a good way to boost motivation.
Help Someone Else Ride
It is very easy in the modern world to live entirely in our own bubble. Why not reach out and help someone to ride? Whether it’s a youngster learning to balance, a new rider, or someone with a mechanical at the side of the road. -Take the time to help others. If you don’t already, why not wave at fellow riders too? In this ever more divisive world, bike riders need to support and help each other.
Riding your bike lots but never raced? Racing is the ultimate test of your fitness and all round abilities on a bike. While websites and apps such as Strava and Zwift give a rough idea of how you compare to others, you can’t beat actual elbow to elbow racing. British Cycling, TLI and Cycling Time Trials have events largely from March onwards in the UK. A good way to gauge fitness without taking the plunge into racing is to ride your local time trial course and time yourself. Whilst it’s hard to produce the same effort when it’s not an actual race, this will give a rough guide to your fitness.
Touring is not just slower bike riding, It’s a completely different state of mind and can be very rewarding. Rather like watching ‘slow TV’, forget about rushing around, ticking villages or castles off your list – take your time and see the ride as an experience rather than a challenge.
Joining a club or meeting up with a regular training group will increase you keenness to ride. Having the kick up the ar*e which we all need from time to time, or people to talk to when the going gets tough really helps get you through the worst of times.
The strongest friendships are forged through adversity…
Find new places to ride
Get the maps out. This is particularly worth while if you have moved to a new area or if you never venture off the same route ride after ride. Be nosey and adventurous! Head down those roads and trails which you’ve never been on before, getting a bit lost is a brilliant way to find new places to ride.
Turn your back on tech
For more and more road riders this is getting harder to do – If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen… However, remember the days before Strava? When you just used to ride and not feel the pressure to perform on segments. Switching off technology returns bike riding to that bygone era; when watts were used to rate light bulbs, and phones were in big red metal boxes at the side of the road.
Use Your Bike More
Using your bike for short journeys to the shops or post office makes a lot of sense. Short journeys in cars can be bad for your car as well as your carbon footprint. For a more hard-core challenge try to go ‘car free’ for a week, this takes a bit of planning and is only doable if you work relatively near home. These small steps are great to get thinking about active transport and the environmental impact which we all have.
Support Local Racing
Depending on where you live, there could be a good opportunity to help support bike racing near you. Whether it’s a local MTB race in a nearby country park or a summer evening Crit’ around your local town. As well as getting some free entertainment, you are also boosting the value of the event for sponsors, and in a small way, helping both the sport and local economy. Event organisers are, more often than not, doing it for their love of the sport and wanting to give opportunities to people who want to compete. The ‘wooosh’ of the bunch passing by makes it well worth the effort in itself. Check out Velouk.net for upcoming events near to you.
Ride somewhere Inspirational
Ever wanted to ride the Flanders cobbles in the wheel tracks of your classics heroes? Maybe climb the most iconic Alps from the Tour De France? planning a trip to visit somewhere amazing is one of the best ways to stay motivated and keep you bike riding on track. Once you’ve got the plan, make sure you think about it. A lot. Keeping the goal fresh in your mind will ensure that you don’t lose focus.