As much as we at m2M towers bang on about our love for cycling, we'd be lying if we didn't admit the fact that there can be times when we look at our machines and the usual twinkle in our eyes just isn't there.
Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason as to why we can't be arsed getting in the saddle. Other times it can be obvious - especially on the colder, wetter and darker days.
Whatever the reason, it's important to maintain a consistent level of cycling if you want to improve fitness - physically and mentally.
It's so easy to slide down the slippery slope of a day out the saddle becoming days. Days becoming weeks. Weeks becoming months... And then the thought of hopping back onto your two-wheeled steed becomes even harder. Especially at the thought of having to rebuild all that fitness you worked so hard on in the first place.
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to having an extended, motivationally-related break from your road bike. So what are some great ways to ensure you maintain your mojo?
Here are some things we at m2M recommend you try doing to ensure you keep pushing those pedals more often than not. In no particular order:
1. Sign up for a charity riding event - commit and communicate it:
Sometimes there's no better motivation than having a purpose that's higher than yourself.
We get it. For many beginners, the thought of riding in the winter can be as appealing as sliding down a chainsaw and using your testicles as brakes. However, if you sign up to a challenging event (London or Birmingham 100 are amazing, closed-road ones) and commit to riding it in support of charity then it's very hard to go back out of it.
To double-down on that commitment tell all your friends and family that you're doing it. Once something like that is out in the open it's even more difficult to change your mind. Afterall, you wouldn't want to let all those people down, would you now?! 😉 So why not sign up and then use the winter months to train your fitness levels up to where they need to be to complete your first 100 miler.
2. Join a local cycling club:
Riding with others can make cycling so much more enjoyable. The chat. The banter. The coffee and cake stops. Not only is it a great way to meet people and make new friends, but those people can be the ones to give you the kick up the arse you sometimes need to get up, get dressed and get out.
Sometimes, at m2M, a conversation will go like this:
Someone at m2M: "morning fellas. Don't know if I can be bothered this morning. Weather looks shite and roads look a little damp."
The others at m2M: "Don't be a dick! Meet us at the usual spot.
Someone: "Oh man. Go on then. See you there in an hour."
Add to this the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) when you see their post-ride-pics of coffee stops and Strava PBs, and you'll be up and at 'em in no time.
3. Sporting apps and performance data:
Even the least competitive among you will still want to know how you're improving. If not at first then definitely the more you get into your cycling hobby /obsession.
For some it will be about "am I getting faster". For others, "am I getting fitter?" Whatever your motivation, with apps like Strava and Garmin you can track as much or as little as your heart desires. Including... Well... Your heart.
From a personal fitness perspective, link Strava to a heart rate monitor, speed and cadence sensors and it won't be long before your pushing yourself to continually improve.
"Did I beat my personal best?..."
"Is my cadence getting faster over longer periods..."
"Can I climb that hill quicker?"...
"Can I bag that local KOM?!" (King of the Mountain - the title bestowed upon the person who rides a segment faster than anyone else has).
Sometimes there's no better feeling of satisfaction and motivation than seeing the needle of whatever dial you're watching, going in the right direction.
4. Invest in a cycling computer with turn-by-turn route mapping
Riding the same roads and routes over and over again can become monotonous and boring at the best of times.
To really open up your cycling world you can plan routes in apps like Strava and Garmin Connect, and then ride them with real-time navigation maps showing you the way.
Yes, you can have them displayed on your smartphone, which you could attach to your handlebars but it's much better to have a dedicated cycling computer instead. They don't have to cost the earth and you can get great prices for older models on the likes of eBay.
Wahoo and Garmin are very popular brands. Wahoo is like Apple. More intuitive to use and easier to set up straight out the box. Garmin is a bit like Android in that its more for those who like tinkering with their tech and won't get flustered if things crash. Which some Garmin cycling-related devices can be prone to do at launch - until Garmin get their shit together and release firmware updates soon after release, which sort out their often half-baked, release software.
5. Weight loss (as long as you put the pies and amber nectar down!)
Stand on your scales and take a look at the number staring back at you.
Even if you look at it through slitted-fingers covering your eyes, make a note of the number and set yourself a weight-loss goal.
Cycling won't necessarily be the silver-bullet to making you achieve it but it sure as hell can be a significant, contributing factor. As long as you're not shoving Mr. Kipling's and Aunt Bessie's finest into your face on a daily basis!
6. Rain outside = train (and a bit of pain) inside.
Sometimes, even with best intentions, the weather will have other ideas. Rain won't hurt you but it can make roads slippery or gravel (which is more dangerous to road bikes) more difficult to see. And we don't recommend riding in sub-zero temperatures because hard-to-see black ice can be lethal.
When mother nature is having one of her strops, indoor trainers can be great. Connect one to an indoor training companion app such as Zwift and you'll make it even more bearable.
Indoor trainers come in all shapes and sizes. Literally from basic rollers you just stick your bike on. Pop in your headphones and pound out a few miles.
At the other end of the spectrum you've got trainers like Wahoo's very popular Kickr. A direct drive, smart trainer that connects directly to your rear cassette (you remove your rear wheel) and makes indoor riding feel as close to outdoor without actually being on tarmac.
Add to that the ability to connect it to your laptop or smart device and it'll automatically adjust resistance to match the elevation you're riding on in any compatible, training companion app.
7. Keeping your eyes on the Spring /Summer prize
Having spent a fair bit of my career in the corporate world you get to hear a lot of cheesy sayings and cliché's (admittedly, I've been the purveyor of many of them myself 😞).
Surprisingly enough though, not all of them make you want to vomit into your own mouth (and yes. You can run that up the flag-pole and circle back on this if you like 🤮)
One that resonated with me was, "don't act as the position you are, behave like the position you want to be" - or something to this effect???
In quite a tenuous way, I apply this same principle to my off-season riding. I don't think of it as "riding in the winter". I frame it in my mind as "preparing for the spring and summer."
m2M have a bit of a war-cry when we're in the saddle in the less motivational months.
Often, when someone in the pack is struggling, and the ride is really becoming a grind with a million-and-one other places we'd all rather be, someone will usually pipe up with loud, "c'mon fellas - WINTER MILES MAKES SUMMER SMILES!"