Cycling Through Uncertain Times: Tips for Keeping Motivation High

By Megan Flottorp

After a winter unlike any other, there is undoubtedly much anticipation as spring starts to emerge. With the status of many summer cycling events still undetermined, though, a real edge of uncertainty remains. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that we can’t always count on the plans we make, no matter how prepared we are. Although we’ve now all had plenty of time to come around to this fact, it can still be hard to stay motivated when facing another precarious cycling season.

Whether you’ve been training for over a year without a chance to prove yourself or are unsure about whether or not to get in shape for a summer trip or event that might not end up happening, you’re not alone if you’re struggling to stay determined when you don’t know what lies ahead. Keeping your cycling motivation in the pandemic times gets quite tricky.

Cycling with a mask
Finding it a bit hard to stay motivated? © Profimedia

Nevertheless, you’d probably be willing to say that your bike has been there for you through good times and bad, so now is not the time to abandon it. Read on for some tips to stay on target even when the future remains a bit blurry.

Set goals and mark your progress

If it’s the thrill of competition that motivates you to push your limits, the lack of in-person racing can prove a considerable challenge to overcome. There’s nothing quite like going toe-to-toe with a worthy opponent, and no one will argue that showing off your hard work in front of a crowd is a rewarding experience. In times like these, though, turning inwards can provide a lot of the same satisfaction. If you want to ensure you’re not losing your competitive edge, try strategies like timing yourself on the bike. Using little markers of success can really help you see the difference that your effort is making.

Cycling Training
Mark all your successes. © Profimedia

Don’t stop growing

If your regular training has been flung into chaos, use the disruption to widen your horizons and embrace a playful approach to riding. Try scanning YouTube for videos and tutorials that can help you improve your handling skills or rethink your position on a bike. It will all help out when you can race again and might just open your eyes to a side of the sport you hadn’t encountered before. Now is also an excellent time to try out new equipment, components, and setups. Spend some time learning what you like and what works for you.

Listen to your body

This is always good advice, but it might be a bit easier to follow due to our current situation. The changing of seasons always presents a natural opportunity for reflection and growth, so why not bring a little more flexibility into your training regime and figure out what feels right to you? There can be a strong temptation to impose structure on a situation that we think is out of our control, but remember that the key to truly effective training is to be in tune with what is happening in your body on any given day. If you feel more tired on some days and stronger on others, adapt your training accordingly and see if it helps with keeping your cycling motivation. Who knows, maybe you will become a better (and happier) rider.

Try adjusting your training plan. © Profimedia

Think of cycling as your medicine

Everybody rides for different reasons, but almost all of them have something to do with feeling good on a bike. Some people find it overwhelming to be dogged by ambitious goals or to-do lists during times of stress. Rather than a source of anxiety, remember that exercise is a form of feel-good medicine. In addition to being good for your health, cycling presents an opportunity to get to know yourself better and develop as a person.

Embrace the uncertainty

Ride the wave of ambiguity. Remember how lucky you are to be passionate about a sport that gives you freedom of mobility and exploration during this crazy time we are living through. Take the opportunity on beautiful days to ride farther and to cut yourself some slack on the days you’re struggling. Set your own pace, enjoy nature, and take pride in the fact that, despite everything going on around you, you’re finding time to do something just for yourself. All these tricks surely help with keeping that cycling motivation.