- There will be races, but they might not happen exactly as scheduled.
- Sort out your cycling gear and work on weaknesses in your riding.
- Start riding to work more, even if only to the local coffee shop for a remote meeting.
Active transport and indoor training were the two most significant cycling trends of 2020. But what should be your riding goals in 2021?
The digitisation of cycling finally matured with a combination of innovative programming and lockdown, triggering a flood of demand for virtual riding solutions. Although these cycling apps are wonderful, they cannot replace the freedom of real-world road miles or trails.
Dedicated amateur racers will be greatly cautious about managing their event expectations for 2021. Some January races have already been postponed and those planning to achieve all their missed 2020 race medals could be disappointed.
There could still be event disruptions
Races are traditionally the strongest incentive for riders to keep diligently logging their training distances, working towards a specific goal.
Whether you are planning a sub three-hour Cape Town Cycle Tour or want to ride strongly at one of the local mountain bike multi-day stage races (S2C, Berg&Bush or W2W), accept that the unexpected might still happen in 2021.
With the event space certain to remain fluid for the next few months, as South Africa navigates living with the lockdown, there are non-competitive cycling goals that are very worthwhile. Both to your sense of being and riding ability.
The first is to organise your gear. Years of upgrades often leave a spares box in the garage, with components that are promised to be reused, but often become orphaned.
Donate stuff and learn new skills
Take the time to unpack and organise all your spares, components, and riding gear. Identify what has become unused over the last few months and donate.
Paying it forward with usable cycling components and kit is a very worthy way of keeping lower-income cyclists riding along, instead of sitting at home, marooned with mechanical issues.
If you do not know where to donate, get in touch with a local cycling club, trail network or bike shop. Amongst these organisations and businesses, you are sure to find worthy recipients for donations.
With the kit inventory rationalized, it is time to make an honest analysis of your riding and address the weaknesses. Do you pack power? Are you a weak climber? Do you corner with the agility of a fridge-on-a-skateboard when riding your mountain bike?
All riders make the mistake of perpetuating strengths instead of training weaknesses. Riding is a state of mindfulness and escape. We all gravitate toward doing what we enjoy on our bikes, instead of embracing new challenges. Over time, that can lead to a very asymmetric set of riding skills.
If you need more power or climbing endurance, it is time to get in the gym, suffer through intervals and spend more time spinning lower gears up very steep inclines.
Mountain biking requires an array of technical skills and these are best achieved with a good coach. The time spent with a quality mountain bike skills coach can transform your riding in an afternoon or three.
Simple adjustments of your body position and awareness of how to approach technical features, will make you a much safer and faster rider off-road.
If it is close to home, ride your bike
Beyond the competitive and mindful aspects of cycling, a noteworthy goal for this year would be riding more and drive less, especially over short distances.
Working from home has not been the blissful mindfulness and convenience that many perceived it to be. As offices start returning to normal occupation throughout the year, traffic volumes will increase, in parallel with schools normalizing their schedule.
South Africa’s indifferent cycling infrastructure and aggressive traffic patterning will still prove risky, but the global trend for urban professionals is towards active transport. Expect a lot more active transport, as riders who thought of riding to work, will now finally do so.