Most of us experience a dip in enthusiasm for cycling occasionally and just don’t fancy getting on the bike as much as usual, but the good news is that it’s a temporary affliction. Here’s how to make sure you come back to your senses as soon as possible.
We asked road.cc readers for tips on getting the old cycling mojo back again, and many of the replies we got are included here. Bear in mind that some of the suggestions are mutually exclusive, so you need to choose what you think is right for you.
Ride new routes
“My enthusiasm usually only dips because I get bored with the routes I have to ride, so I take my bike for a road trip,” says Charlie Jenkins. “Pack a bag, throw the bike in the back of the truck and head out on an adventure.”
If you’ve cycled in the same area for a long time you’re bound to know the local roads and might not find them particularly inspiring any more, but you can always find new routes, especially with navigation apps like MapMyRide and Strava Route Builder (still in beta phase) out there. You can also get new ideas from ride-mates and online forums.
Higher level Garmin Edge bike computers (the 820, 1030, Explore 820 and Explore 1000) have a Round-Trip Course feature that suggests routes for you based on your chosen distance. This might come up with ideas you’ve not considered.
Try a new type of cycling
“Do something different,” says Greg Wright. “If you usually ride on the road, try riding off-road. If you usually ride solo, join a group. If you've never ridden on a velodrome, give it a try.”
Jari Mutikainen also likes to mix it up.
“It’s the trick of holy trinity: mountain bike, gravel, and road. Switch to the next one when needed.”
There’s a whole load of other cycling disciplines out there if you feel you’re stuck in a rut.
As well as giving you a new challenge to get stuck into, this could open up new routes for you to ride (see above), new scenery to check out and perhaps an excuse to get yourself some new toys. Speaking of which…
Buy some new stuff!
“Buy a new bike,” is Dan Hopkinson’s suggestion for rediscovering your mojo.
That sounds like a fabulous idea to us. Get yourself a new Bianchi Oltre XR4 and you’ll have no trouble motivating yourself to get out and ride it. Guaranteed! The trouble is, that’s going to work out very expensive if your enthusiasm dips on a regular basis
“Buy something new for your bike that you always wanted – new kit or shoes,” says Nathan Belmont.
Anything that’ll make your ride experience more pleasurable sounds like a good option.
Set yourself a challenge
“Set a target reward like a big challenge ride or a cycling trip away,” says Mark Tarbard.
Martin Burrows says, “Signing up for a charity ride gets me back in focus.”
Or you could follow Piotr Wybieralski’s suggestion: “Go on Strava and check out those segments that you want to PR next.”
Getting a goal might well focus your mind. You might plan to compete in a race or take part in a sportive, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be an organised event. You could set yourself a personal challenge or a fitness goal.
If you’re a goal-orientated person and this approach is likely to work for you, set a SMART objective. In other words, make your goal specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
If you rode a particular sportive in 5hrs last year, for example, you might aim to ride this year’s event 15mins quicker. You’ll need to work out how you can do that, and break it down into specific training weeks – and once you’ve done that you’ll be far less likely to skip rides.
Or you might set yourself the aim of doing a century ride by the end of August, or a coast-to-coast ride before your next birthday.
Making your goal something you’ll enjoy and really want to achieve will help you stick to it.
Make it fun!
The goal-orientated approach (above) isn’t for everyone – not all of the time, at least.
“Forget the goals, targets and expectations and just get back to riding your bike,” says Chris O’Connor. “Leave your GPS device at home, forget about all the hype that you have to be faster and just ride for the sake of riding. Once you find that love of cycling again, get back to setting yourself attainable goals.”
Dave Branston’s suggestion for regaining your enthusiasm is similar: “Forget the targets and ride for fun to start with. Vary the days you ride. Leave time for family. Lighten up and don’t take it so seriously!”
Jonathan Cross says, “Slow down and smell the roses. Join some relaxed group coffee rides. Try some relaxed tours, maybe starting with a one night credit card tour somewhere nice.”
Damian Passlow suggests, “Don't try to peak all year round. Maybe get off Strava so you don't end up turning every ride into a race.”
Several other people had similar suggestions.
If you’re struggling with motivation it could be because you’re not adding enough fun to the mix. As well trying out new routes and perhaps a new cycling discipline (see above), you could try developing an enjoyable skill such as descending, or ride to the coast… use your imagination!
Ride with other people
“Find a riding buddy,” suggests Jon Koh.
Liesl Hacker says, “Go out with a group of mates who you know will encourage you and help you to get back to fitness.”
Riding with other people is the most popular way that road.cc users suggest for rediscovering cycling enthusiasm.
Yes, cycling on your own can be great too, but riding with a friend, a group or a club can make things easier, providing camaraderie, support, encouragement and enjoyment.
Book a cycling holiday
A change is as good as a rest, right? Book yourself a cycling holiday somewhere hot and sunny and you’re bound to fall in love with life on two wheels again.
If you think everyone who goes on a cycling holiday is a Tour de France-wannabe, think again. Of course, there are full-on training camps for those who want them, but there are also plenty of other cyclist-friendly hotels around the world, some of them offering guided rides for various abilities and aspirations – such as the Belvedere in Riccione, Italy, where we hold the annual road.cc Italy Week.
You’ll come back with added fitness and a renewed enthusiasm for cycling.
Give yourself a break
Losing your enthusiasm for cycling could indicate that you need a break.
“Usually I dip from the pure exhaustion of exerting myself too much and trying to make goals over the same stretch of road or trail over and over again,” says Seth Peterson.
“The best way I've been able to get back into it is to take a week or two off cycling. I'll go do an alternative workout, either outside or in a gym. Then, get back into it easy. Go on a easy, sightseeing recovery ride. By that time you'll have realised how awesome and fun cycling is. It's all about getting back the sense of fun in cycling, as that's what got us all hooked.”
Taking time off the bike might make you worry about losing fitness but the reality is that a few days away won’t do you any harm. Your body will get the chance to recover fully from your last ride and you’ll gradually start to feel less jaded. Granted, you’ll slowly start to lose your edge after about a week of inactivity, but by that time you’ll probably be itching to get back in the saddle anyway.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.