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The Final Days of Winter: Finding the Motivation to Ride (When You Really Don’t Want To)

By Megan Flottorp

Depending on where you live, March can either mean spring is officially in the air or that another gruelling month of winter is underway – or that you’re dealing with a confusing combination of the two. Regardless, it can be a struggle to find motivation when the end is on the horizon but we’re still facing dark mornings and temperature fluctuations that make it almost impossible to dress appropriately.

As you’re likely already aware, though, it is mostly a mental battle you’re fighting. Pushing yourself to get in a few extra rides over the coming weeks will leave you in a much better position to take advantage of those long summer days when they arrive. Here are some tips for conquering that waning motivation and ensuring you go into the new season with confidence.

Set yourself up for success

On a bright sunny morning, it usually doesn’t take a whole lot of convincing to get yourself into the saddle. A dark, dreary, possibly wet or snowy morning though? That’s a different story. Part of the problem is caused by thinking of all the steps you need to go through before you can actually get out there and ride. Luckily, you can make the process much easier by taking a few preparatory steps the night before. Get your bike all ready to go, ensuring tyres are pumped, lights are charged, computer or saddlebag is attached. Next, lay out your kit so that all you have to do is slip it on and you’re ready to go. Cutting out the opportunities for hesitation will do wonders for simply getting you on your way.

© redsnapper / Alamy / Alamy / Profimedia

Make a list of reasons

Keep a list of 5 or 10 reasons why you should go riding on paper or in your phone. It might sound a bit cheesy but if making excuses for not riding when the weather is bad comes easy to you, using that same ability in reverse to convince yourself to get out there can be hugely effective. Just remind yourself how good it’ll feel and remember that any ride is better than no ride at all. It’s OK to set out with a more modest goal if that is what gets you out of the door.

Work on sharpening your skills

Get yourself excited for what you’re going to accomplish this season by picking a theme each week related to a skill you’d like to improve. Watch some tutorial videos, read up on how to improve your technique and then get out there and experiment. It’ll keep your focus on things other than the weather and will enhance your sense of accomplishment even on shorter rides.

© redsnapper / Alamy / Alamy / Profimedia

Mix it up

Variety in training is vital to success at any time of the year but can be particularly important when you feel like the elements are working against you. It is times like this when we have to put a little more effort into making cycling interesting and when the old adage rings true — variety really is the spice of life. You might love a bowl of spaghetti for dinner once a week but having it every night would take all the joy out of it. The same goes for riding and putting some creativity into your training schedule – it will ensure you continue to see progress.

Use the buddy system

Even if you don’t have someone to ride with regularly, having an “accountability buddy” can help guarantee you actually get out for those rides. It’s a funny thing about the human condition but somehow just saying the words out loud that you’ve committed to riding can go a long way to ensuring that you actually do. Got a cycling pal that lives in another part of the country? Make a plan to chat post-ride or share pics of what you saw. Or if you’re part of an online cycling community, reach out and ask for a little boost of motivation if you’re struggling. We can all relate and you’re likely to get more than enough encouragement to get you on your way.

© redsnapper / Alamy / Alamy / Profimedia

Give yourself a break and take comfort in the fact that the end is in sight!

At the same time, it is important not to beat yourself up if you don’t reach all your winter riding goals. Feeling bad will zap your motivation quicker than anything and that’s definitely not what you’re going for. You don’t want to condition yourself to associate cycling with a sense of obligation. Focus on the fact that the main goal is still to enjoy yourself. If you need an extra push on a given day, acknowledge your effort and promise yourself a small reward for getting out to ride. Chances are that you’ll end up seeing it as a win-win situation. And if not, well, then just celebrate the fact that the days are getting longer and those fresh spring rides are just around the corner!