By Laurel-Lea Shannon
It happens suddenly. First you notice that you’re easily annoyed and crabby—and a bit fatigued. Then you start dreading your next ride or, worse, skipping it. Finally your cycling goals seem pointless and dull. What’s wrong? You’ve got the saddle-time blues. Here’s how to cure them:
1. Change the scenery
We’re creatures of habit. Exercise is a good habit. But cycling the same routes can also become a habit, and deadly boring. If you’ve stopped feeling the love, change the scenery. Find some new (safe) and interesting roads to cycle on. If you usually do flats, find hills.
2. Mix it up
USA Triathlon World Cup coach Gale Bernhardt says that one of the biggest mistakes recreational cyclists make is to cycle at the same speed/intensity all the time. “Mono-speed doesn’t allow the athlete to optimize speed, get faster, and at the same time leaves them in a constant state of low-level fatigue.” Mix it up. Focus on pedal form, add spin-ups (spinning at a high RPM in an easy gear while keeping your torso quiet, 20-30 second repeats) and do intervals.
3. Find some cycling buddies
Cycling solo is fine from time to time but if you cycle alone too much it grows dull, fast. (Unless you’re pedaling around the world.) When you don’t feel like getting out on the bike, having buddies to cycle with will help motivate you. Find friends with similar fitness goals and interests. You can socialize while riding. That makes it fun. A little friendly competition with your fitness buddies adds zing to your bike rides.
4. Set a new goal
Setting a new short-term goal can jump-start your enthusiasm. It doesn’t need to be huge. Maybe you’ve been getting dropped on the hills all summer. Practice your hill climbs and see if you can hang onto the pack before the end of the season.
5. Add new activities
If your summer exercise consists mainly of cycling, you may need a change of activity. Try something new like swimming, kayaking, or golf—or any sport that gives you the benefits of cross-training. If you’re already a runner, try a tri.
6. Take a break
If none of the above gets you cranked up you may need time off the bike. Many cycling coaches recommend three weeks of high intensity and volume rides followed by a rest week. If you’ve been steadily increasing your workouts throughout the summer without a break, you could be over-training. Try cutting back for one week and see if that puts the bounce back in your wheels.
Need some inspiration? Watch this trailer for Chasing Legends.