Love the doing as much as the achieving
Finishing races, hitting personal bests, and winning medals are achievements that fuel many cyclists to train hard. These can be really exciting and rewarding goals but they won’t sustain you for long. Think of a sport that’s really boring to you. Is it golf? Just joking. But regardless, imagine you are so talented in that sport that you could be the world champion if you trained hard. How long would you do the sport for? I’m guessing a few seasons at most. You’d win the world title, cash in a few checks and then happily retire to go back to cycling that you actually enjoy.
The point of this example was to illustrate that if you enjoy “doing”, meaning riding your bike, it trumps being a champion. If you can make those regular everyday rides fun and satisfying, you’re never going to give up on cycling, no matter the medals, prizes or age.
Seek out driven and optimistic people
There is a famous quote by Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, that summarizes this topic:
“You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with.”
Most cyclists that do group rides know that if you ride with positive and motivated people, it’s more enjoyable and you’re more likely to keep coming back. Unfortunately, this works the other way around too. Negative people can influence your feelings and decisions too. They don’t believe in themselves and blame everyone else for their failings. You may not be like that but people like this will eventually drag you down to their level, given enough time.
Make a conscious effort to shape your group of cycling friends over time. Invest time in people who are driven and optimistic. Make an effort, it makes all the difference.
Stick to the fundamentals
It’s appealing to jump on the latest trends in training, recovery, and nutrition. The problem is not that they don’t work. It’s what you’re giving up by chasing those marginal gains. Doing the fundamentals right gets you about 90% of the way to your maximum potential. While professional athletes need to address the remaining 10% because their livelihood depends on it, you don’t have to, maybe even shouldn’t.
It takes a lot of time, planning, and discipline to stick with a solid training plan over a whole month, let alone a whole season or many seasons in a row. If you spend time and attention working on your left-right pedal balance on top of that, you may gain an extra 1%. But you are also likely to make mistakes in your fundamentals because your willpower and time are limited. And the results could be losing 10%. Keep things simple in your training, recovery, and diet. Prioritize fundamentals over marginal gains. Keep that up over the years and decades and you’ll be a better cyclist with fewer injuries.
Take pride in your effort and commitment
Cyclists that boast can be annoying and often end up not well-liked, which is why many cyclists take on a self-deprecating tone when talking about their training and performance. They downplay the effort they put into cycling. While this may be the safer choice socially, it could be hurting you from a long-term view. Learn to take pride in your commitment to cycling without sounding boastful. Building this sense of pride in your own head over many years will strengthen your relationship with the sport.
Focus on removing barriers
You love cycling, that’s clear just from the fact that you’re reading this type of article on a website called We Love Cycling. You don’t need much to motivate you to go riding. What you need is only to remove the obstacles that are preventing you from riding.
If you have to cancel a lot of rides because of bad weather, get a smart indoor trainer. If you’re struggling to find time for cycling during the work week, start commuting on your bike. If you’re struggling with your diet, get rid of all the foods that you tend to overeat. Create an environment where success is really easy.
Armed with these five pieces of advice, you’re sure to stay on track to be a lifelong cyclist. It’s not exactly clear how many years of cycling qualify you for that title. But check back when you feel you earned it and let us know!