Cycling can be an easy sport, it can be a tough sport, an adventurous sport, and a fun sport. It will be whatever you make or decide it to be, and this all depends on which level you are at, and which level you desire, or aspire to be. If you have been cycling for a year or two you will have noticed improvements coming very quickly simply by spending more time on the bike. Events conquered would have given you that shot of endorphins that makes cycling fun, and you may have finished them thinking, "fabulous, next time I will aim for twenty minutes quicker, or what event shall I challenge myself to next?" That is a typical scenario for everyone diving into a new sport, or even if they have been doing it for a while. We set ourselves challenges to work towards, giving us motivation and inspiration to continue onwards, outside of our comfort zones.
Let's have a look at three main ways to increase your cycling challenge this year.
1 – Make a tick list
We tend to forget sometimes that riding out bikes is not just riding our bikes. Fine tuning physical and technical skills can greatly improve your ability and enjoyment. Ask yourself:
- Do I understand my gears, and how to use them?
- Can I change a puncture?
- Am I confident at cornering quickly and effectively?
- Can I climb hills well?
- Is my bike set up correct?
- Can I pedal properly?
- Am I using the correct equipment to achieve my goals?
Making a list helps you establish what you do know, and what you don't and gives you things to work on.
2 – Events
Most of us start with events such as the Special K, Sun Latte, Bike the Bays, or SUB events which are fantastic to participate in as a team or individual. Once you've ticked them off other cycling challenges await, such as bigger fun rides, like Rotorua to Taupo which is 100 kilometres, or Lake Taupo which is 160 kilometres. These are big jumps, and intermediary events listed on great websites such as this have numerous events that will provide a stepping stone from your events to big goals such as Lake Taupo. Riding with a club is also another step to improving your cycling challenge. It may sound scary but in fact it is one of the easiest and quickest ways to improve your cycling because there are experienced cyclists at clubs ready and willing to help beginners. A list of all the clubs in New Zealand is on this website, and www.bikenz.org.nz Clubs typically have weekly events that are good to aim for on a regular basis, instead of focusing all your eggs on one basket, such as Taupo. Plotting in club races, or smaller events along the way help you learn more about cycling, and may stretch you physically to improve as well.
3 – "I had a dream"
Said Martin Luther-King. Yours may not be about politics or equality, but we can all dream, and that is the point. Set a dream challenge, whether it's conquering a hill, or an event or a technical challenge in cycling. Put it out there, and remember we own our limitations, so if we own them, we can change them. Each time you tick off an event, and achieve it, you change your limitations. They drop away like flies, just as they should because they don't really need to be there in the first place, but they always are because we are human! So add to journey with something different and remember, "the body surprises those with strength of mind" so see where your potential lies. Set a challenge that is just that: a challenge, go out there and go for it, and enjoy the ride.
Amy Taylor is an Exercise Physiologist and Cycling Coach. She is one of the founders of Kinetic Edge Training Technology, and along with other coaches offers cycling skills training on a one on one or group basis. Kinetic Edge also offers programming for specific events, and personal coaching. For further information see www.kecycling.com or contact her directly on firstname.lastname@example.org