- Don’t set unachievable cycling goals, as part of an overly optimistic January.
- Cycling can be tough, but it must always be enjoyable – and not trigger anxiety.
- Be consistent, and ride more, even if it is only for short distances.
Many of us suffer the same familiar cycle of expectation and disappointment each January, by setting training goals, that are too lofty.
In a data-rich activity like cycling, the potential to be haunted by numbers, is very real.
Many riders need goals. And data logging apps such as Strava can create better training discipline. But there is a risk of being too obsessed with comparative statistics.
Cycling is competitive. But it doesn’t have to be unhealthily so. The likelihood is that 2022 will see a return to normalized events. And that means more opportunities for riders to achieve placings, improve seedings and take home medals.
But what the pandemic and lockdown have taught us is that you don’t need events. Or exhaustive Strava achievements, to benefit from the mindfulness of riding.
Remember the greatest quote in cycling
At this time of year, it is worth heeding the wisdom of cycling’s greatest ever rider. Eddy Merckx’s record will never be equalled. But cycling was more than just winning for the Belgian.
His most enduring quote, remains the most meaningful in all of cycling. "Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride."
Ride more, but think less, about riding. Obsessing about specific distances and power outputs aren’t healthy. Sure, a structured programme is great for some riders, and having access to training data does help. But it can overwhelm the experience – diluting the purity of cycling.
Ride for your mental health - not only physical wellbeing
A crucial benefit of riding is the sheer escapism of it. You don’t need to answer your phone. Or read that message. You can just roll along, enjoying the scenery moving by, pedalling into the rhythm of healthy distraction.
Not every ride can be a collection of new personal records on each sequential Strava segment. And some of the best rides, are unplanned. Unstructured. And often, alone.
If there is a foundation for your riding goals in 2022, let them be structured on Eddy’s advice. Just ride. And think less, about doing it in a specific way.
Get out and rotated those hubs. Whether it is a 100km solo effort on a Sunday. Or riding to a neighbourhood braai or coffee shop work meeting, instead of driving.
Another worthy cycling goal, is to try different disciplines. If you are a committed road rider, why not get out on a mountain bike and ride up some much steeper and looser climbs for training?
It can also be very healthy for mountain bikers who underappreciate the precision and pedalling endurance of road riding, to spend some time behind those drop handlebars.