New year, new you? Well, that’s a shame. We liked the old you, though even the best of us can do with a little bit of self-improvement from time to time.
Still, we much prefer new year, same you - but maybe with a bit more direction. A new year is a great chance to kickstart your biking lifestyle, particularly if you've found yourself in a bit of a lull at the end of 2017.
"Perhaps you’ve not been getting as much time on the bike as you’d like"
Perhaps you've not been getting as much time on the bike as you'd like, been riding the same routes over and over again or would like to meet some new riding partners.
Anyway, traditional New Year's resolutions are great and all, but where's the fun in focusing purely on losing weight or forcing yourself to go to the gym more? We’ve previously covered the fact that giving up chocolate may even be counter-productive for cyclists, so hang on to that box of Celebrations and why not pick a resolution that’ll help you get more from your time on two wheels? Here are a few ideas for how to do just that...
1) Introduce five + new people to the sport
Five may seem like a lot, but it’s not like you've got to tick them all off in January. You’ve got twelve months to get just a handful of people to give cycling a serious go.
Maybe they’ve never cycled off-road, maybe they’re a regular commuter but have never seriously hit the roads on the weekend. Either way, it’s always fun to ride with new people and see the inevitable smile on their face.
You know how addictive the sport can be, and they might just feel the same way. You could give a mate a new hobby and get yourself a new regular riding buddy in the process.
2) Become a bike maintenance guru
So you’re a pro at fixing a flat? Maybe you even know your way around your bike and can name all the components and their use without batting an eyelid – but we’re betting there’s still room for improvement on the maintenance front in one way or another.
Learning the inside-outs of your bike, what everything is there to do, how to maintain it and how to fix it if it goes wrong is one of the most useful things you will ever do. And it’ll make that expensive bike of yours last a whole lot longer, too.
3) Get into the habit of carrying the essentials
Especially if you’ve now learned your way around the bike, you’ll know how many problems could potentially arise when you are on the roads or the trails. If you’re ditching bad habits in the New Year then, why not pick up some good ones to replace them?
Chuck a spare inner tube or two in your bag, maybe some water, a phone, ID, a first-aid kit, a pump, tire levers, a puncture repair kit – even with the spare tubes – a good biking multi-tool, some zip-ties, duct tape, an extra layer of clothing, a beer or three, a derailleur hanger, a good supply of steeze and a head lamp... just for starters.
That way you'll never end up having to try and repair your bike with a packet of crisps.
4) Find one big challenge and tailor your training towards it
It’s great to just get out and ride, but why not set yourself a huge challenge to complete by the end of 2016 – whether that be riding in your first race, cycling through a series of cities or countries on the continent or riding a challenge like the North Coast 500 that’ll take quite a few days and require a good level of fitness.
Having this kind of thing to work towards is sure to make you ride harder and with more organisation. You’ll check your timings, check your fitness levels, check how far you’ve gone and strive to do even more in your next session. This is the way to take your riding and your fitness levels up a notch!
5) Ride with people better than you. Listen to them!
Riding with friends new to the bike is great fun, but if you want to advance your riding then getting out with the more advanced guys or girls is the way to go. Odds on you’ll notice a few things they’re doing that you aren’t, and there’s a good chance they’ll give you some pointers if they see you going wrong.
6) Remember to take photographs
Okay, so we know the whole ‘Instagram’ mountain bike scene isn't for everyone. Often it’s a bit too clean, it’s a bit too wanderlust-driven. Often, it doesn’t seem real.
But you don’t have to take photographs like that if you don’t want to. Taking a snap or two from on your rides is something you definitely won’t regret in 365 days time, whether that photograph is of the beautiful scenery, the bike, the mud, the mess or just you and your mates at the bar the hour after.
Stick them on Instagram if you want by all means, or don't put them anywhere – even just keeping a folder-full of pics on your laptop means you’ll have easy access to a nostalgia-packed gallery come the end of the year.
7) Use the technology available... But don’t get too addicted
There's an app for that. For everything. For everything you could possibly think of. And if you're not using them, they're often giving you notifications or e-mails to ask you why you're not using them.
What that means, though, is that you don’t have to shell out big bucks to get cycling technology that will help you keep track of, well, whatever the hell it is you want to keep track of.
Some of the best apps for cycling will track your fitness levels, your distance, your speed... Hell, these days they can probably tell what kind of bike your riding, if your tyres need inflated and whether or not your family actually loves you.
Making use of apps like Strava is great, and you should totally do it, stick it on Facebook if you want, keep it for your personal records or whatever else, but don’t get caught up too hard in the KOM chaos. Don't become the type of person who becomes paranoid someone else on Strava is trying to ruin their life and in engages in a full-on viral argument with them. Cycling should always be for the fun of cycling - and apps should only be used to enhance this!
8) Help your scene grow in your local area
Giving back to your local cycling community can come in all shapes and forms. Whether you’re a mountain biker who is committing to trail-digging and maintenance for the first time or a road cyclist volunteering at a local race or helping with the running of a local club, this is a great way to get those feel-good vibes flowing and make a bunch of new friends.
9) Save up and travel... anywhere!
Travelling is wonderful. That goes without saying. It shouldn’t just be your New Year’s resolution to travel though – find a more specific goal, a place that you’ve always wanted to go, that you’ve always been astounding by... and bring your bike with you!
Whether you end up heading to a mountain biking mecca, a setting from road cycling folklore or just take a train a bit further out than the local trails, it could end up being an experience that changes your riding habits forever.
10) Do something that absolutely terrifies you
We don’t mean that you should cycle off a cliff here. Be reasonable. Don’t do something that'll end in your inevitable injury... but do expand your horizons and make your life exciting!
How about learning to jump, slowly but surely at the skills section of your nearest bike centre, and then taking your new talent onto the trails? Trying to ride a World Cup track? Or what about committing to a huge uphill road loop you’ve never felt confident enough to attempt before? The glory of the ride is in the effort!
11) Don't go a week without getting on your bike
A challenge to start now and never finish. At the very least, it's the kind of challenge which would get you out in the wilderness a whole lot more. And at most, it could completely reignite your love of cycling.
12) Try a new discipline
We’ve been talking a lot about resolutions that fit road cycling, mountain biking and beyond in this article, so how about this one; why not swap bikes for a while?
If you’re a hardcore roadie, take to the mountains and get dirty. If you’re MTB mad, climb on a road bike and take an alternative route through the scenery – or get going on a BMX or give cyclocross a try.
If nothing else, it’s always nice to mix things up for a while, and if you do hate it, at least you’ll have some good new slams for your next rap battle with your tribal two-wheeled enemies.
13) Ride in every type of weather
If you live in Britain, this isn’t so much a resolution as a reality. If you don’t ride your bike in every type of weather condition, you’re probably not going to end up riding much of your bike at all.
But that’s part of the beauty. The days spent powering through pouring rain only make it better when you get to the warm shower, and in the months that follow when you’re riding in the sun. The days spent battling against 50mph winds only make it sweeter when you’re cruising on a sweet summer day.
It’s a rite of passage for any budding cyclist to have experienced the worst as well as the best when they’re on two wheels. Just be careful things don’t get too slippy!
14) Drink More Post-Ride Beers
Y'know, in moderation and stuff. We don't like New Year's resolutions that say "do less of this stuff", though. Less is boring. So maybe do more instead?
More biking, more day rides, more night rides, more pedalling, more pushing, more risks, and yeah, why not, more post-ride beers as well. Enjoy 2018 folks. We've got a good feeling about the 12 months ahead.