I recently asked cyclist-friends what motivated them to pedal, and received a far wider variety of answers than I expected. Beside the ornery, tongue-in-cheek answers such as, “work” and “my ex”, other responses were helpful enough to share. The first couple are points we’re all aware of, but in case you’ve forgotten, let’s review.
Just Do You
Tranquility. Therapy. Freedom. Escape. Losing yourself. Finding yourself.
Friends shared how a bike ride gives them the opportunity to shed every label (mom/employee/chauffer/CEO/whatever) and just be themselves. They could sort out their thoughts on the road, or simply shut them out for the duration of the route. They spoke of the freedom of putting their focus wherever they needed it in every moments, like having control of the remote. And they completed their rides relaxed and ready for the day.
Have you taken a ride like that? Have you taken one lately? The kind where you are in no rush and you actually feel the sunshine, notice the fragrant honeysuckle, see the cardinals and other wildlife, and even wave to the smiling family fishing by the lake?
Or how about a nice, long ride that requires work and exertion, miles of beautiful vistas and drops and climbs ahead, but it is strictly just for you, to clear your heart, mind and spirit?
If you don’t have a lot of time, perhaps there is a park, trail, or coffee or ice cream shop destination near work or home that allows you 15-20 minutes of pedaling away from workday stress and honey-do lists at home. If you’ve forgotten how great these rides feel, try adding one of these options back into your weekly schedule. Opportunities like this are available to you every single day.
Obsession: Health Benefits / That Next Race / Beating Yesterday’s Time
Other cyclists stated they are conciously working to fight or avoid obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, or training valiantly for their next triathlon (or both!). They consistently wish they started sooner, worked harder, or were more committed during the most challenged times. The intention to avoid the pitfalls of the convenience of modern times (eating fast food on the couch in front of the TV) is a real battle. The focus on fitness, setting goals, and measuring progress requires TIME and WORK—namely planning, organization and discipline.
These cyclists found that if they simply dabble with ideas, they have nothing to measure, and ultimately get nothing in return. They have to dig in, to the point of obsession, to see real progress. But it has to be organized and balanced with everything else in their life to work. The “obsession,” their commitment, changes everything…but in the best possible ways when they stick to it.
Naturally, these same cyclists like to see proof of their hard work and love to beat their own records in speed and strength. Have you had a check-up lately? Have you set measurable goals for yourself? Have your transformed yourself from the person you were yesterday, last week, last year? In the journey to create your bike life, what might be the “spark” that helps you become obsessed with the best version of you?
The Friendship Factor: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Friendship, support, and the love of all things tasty were additional motivators identified by my cyclist-friends…Eat to ride and ride to eat! There are Donut Rides, Pie Rides, Beer Rides and Wine Rides—and that’s just the beginning! The conversation, camaraderie and connection that occur over the course of pedaling these roads together—and the prize of sharing meals together—lead to memories that last a lifetime. Becoming a foodie is just a perk along the way!
Knowing a friend is waiting to pedal with you, whether you are the support, or being supported, also really persuaded many cyclists to get out there and pedal. Do you ride to eat or eat to ride? Do you ride for a prize treat? (Mexican food for me!) Have you found your bike friends or family? Is it time to branch out and mingle with a few more groups?
Refresh Your Ride, Fit or Look
Was your bike a hand-me-down or purchased from a bike shop specifically for you? Could it be time for a new ride? If not, perhaps it is time for a new fit. If you’ve never been fitted to your bike, it can make all the difference in the world. Just like a new pair of nice tennis shoes or workout clothes motivates you to go to the gym, a nice new kit or pair of shoes can motivate you for the road.
Remember Who Is Watching
Whether it be your offspring, a friend who has considered pedaling, someone dealing with health issues, or someone who simply doesn’t have the confidence to get out there and pedal, somebody is watching. They are curious about what you can do on the bike and what is possible for themselves. Even if you are just beginning, there will be someone keeping tabs on your progress, whether you know it or not. In all your effort to find motivation, do not forget that you, yourself are a source of motivation for others. Dive in! Bring as many new cyclists with you as you can! Blog your journey and post your STRAVA rides. Celebrate yours and others’ accomplishments. It’s the best kind of motivation of all!
What motivational ideas did I miss? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will address them in a future article!
Lisa Tilley is a contributing writer for Wheelbrothers, is a member of Fort Worth based MBBC, and is in sales at Bicycles Inc.