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7 Tips to motivate yourself to get out and ride, when time is a challenge

Mountainbiking gets you fit, period, but fitness probably isn't your main motivation, it's primarily freedom-­inspiring and fun. Either you are motivated by exploration or discovery of new places to ride locally, or like me spontaneously when you might otherwise be doing “something else”. Consider what your motivation is, and see what this short article can do to help you discover new motivations or re-evaluate old ones?

I'll give you an example; As I was going to be staying overnight for some ales (or ciders) at a hostel, forming part of a massive dinner and social session for some old mates, I thought I would scope out the local detailed map online and see what the countryside was like nearby.

Alas the natural bowl ­like forest sections right on the site was not permitted top ride on as it was weathering away.  Luckily within 200m was an entrance either west or east to the ridgeway, the ancient right of way that passes through Oxfordshire.

So sticking the bike on the roof, and arrived early the day before – (telling folk at the gathering that I would be out bright an early the next morning for a early morning ride did get greeted with some scepticism). Alright, I can ride after a few ciders the night before, but I usually very rarely drink these days. I just prefer the sharpness without booze from the night before, but this time the next day after a pack of ciders, I was feeling fine, well fuelled with last nights chilli and well hydrated, so I went out enthusiastic and feeling fit to tackle the near storm ­force winds up on the elevated sections.

It was nothing challenging, even for my old hardtail with just some undulating if very muddy and loose fire-road style climbs, nothing above 4-7%. I arrived back covered in wet clay mud deposits, as folk thought I had fallen off and gone for a swim in the puddles. (no I wasn't using mudguards, sue me).

When I eventually do go back to tackle the ridgeway and find myself not being blown sideways off the trail, I'll do a proper trail report on it.

The POINT here is not what I did or where, but it was using every opportunity to try and get on the bike. And like a number of commentators and youtubers, here's my advice on how to maximise your motivation and enthusiasm when you have very limited time, either when you’re short of good light in the evening or balancing work and family time.

  1. Plan, but plan to be flexible. Make sure your bike needs no looking-over first thing in the morning before you go, because you checked it over before you went to bed. ­ Time saved.
  2. Lay your cycling clothes out wherever you get dressed – perhaps not in the room your partner sleeps so you can get into them instantly, eating your pre­-ride porridge while fully dressed for the ride.
  3. If you are planning a 3­-4 hours base miles ride, and perhaps suddenly something comes up that means you can't do that duration. There is no need to put others out in your family, if that's the commitment, or even if you have to work late at work. Instead just do an hour and build some intensity in with some intervals. Perhaps even turning around on the trail (if its not single-track). You might enjoy some “downs” in a place you might otherwise be used to going uphill.
  4. Keep a diary, or use whatever feature your app uses if you like riding with technology.
  5. Skip technology sometimes for a ride. Perhaps your phone isn't charged because you've been usiung it for other reasons.  So what, you don't need it.  Every ride should teach you something about your fitness or technique, so perhaps ride as you did in the days without smartphones and GPS and just “feel” your way around. Even better, scan in a bit of map and take it with you, or just improve your natural sense of direction or navigational skills. Having a mobile with you for emergencies for you or others fully charged and not run down with Strava and GPS switched on could prove useful one day.
  6. Usually riding with mates is great for motivation, but if you are on a very tight and necessarily balanced schedule with family with work time taking up a big part of your day, then – to this end DON'T ride with mates. Cancelling and disrupting start times, just tends to piss yourself or someone else off, and you should never ride angry. The plus side is that you might be more likely to strike up some conversations or just a bit of recognition of other lone riders or small groups than you wouldn't if you were with your best mates.
  7. If despite all this, you didn't manage to get out.  Refer back to #1 again.  Plan more for the next time.
I'll be re-visiting a number of these advice points in future posts on the blog, i hope that gets you out no matter the conditions or your personal circumstances.

See you on the trails.

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