2020 was a year where most major athletic events were cancelled or scaled back drastically and it seems that 2021 may not be vastly different in this respect. The future of many events is still uncertain for the current year. For many athletes who thrive on training with a specific goal in mind, motivation is dwindling. I personally find that I am losing the motivation to do my race specific winter indoor training, but my motivation to ride my bike is still strong. I have spoken to several cyclists who haven’t been riding much and some say things like, “What’s the point?” The point is to ride your bike because you love it! I ride just for the love of it, and before I ever raced or participated in events like fondos, I enjoyed just being on my bike. This past year, that was filled with a lot of negatives and a lot of uncertainty gave me at least one positive thing; it gave me a chance to fall in love with riding my bike all over again.
If you are feeling unmotivated and discouraged by the lack of training goals, think back to when you first started riding a bike, maybe even go all the way back to when you were a kid. Riding a bike may have given you independence as well as being fun. I remember, as a kid, flying downhill, the purple streamers on my handlebars rustling in the wind. It was so much fun, just to be on the bike.
I have been constantly competing in races for over a decade. I was always so focused on training and trying to improve my performance on the road that I didn’t expand my cycling horizons much off the road. I bought a mountain bike about five years ago, but due to my road focus I often neglected to ride it. This year, which was free from races and events gave me an excuse to get out on my mountain bike every week and as a result I developed my skills as well as a love for mountain biking. Getting out in the woods more often has been a welcome change from the road. It requires more thought and more confidence. I find it challenging, but it also makes me a better and more confident rider in all aspects of cycling.
Without the pressure of having to do as much interval training over the winter, I have felt free to do more fun riding outdoors. I love being outside, even in the winter. The air is so fresh and smells like snow. Once you get over the shock of the cold, if the sun is shining and you just keep pedaling, it really isn’t so bad (if you have the proper gear). With the leaves gone from the trees, I see things that I can’t at other times of year. Winter riding gives a different perspective, if you are willing to venture out in the cold.
If your events are still being postponed or cancelled, take this time to do some fun things on your bike. Go on a cycling adventure. Ride a road or a trail that you have always wanted to try, but never had the time to. Make your motivation more about fun and exploration and seeing your world by bike, rather than having it fly by in a blur while you are doing intervals. Make the most of this crazy time in our world by taking the time to smile and enjoy the ride.