January is here, and it’s the perfect time to step back and take a look at your cycling life. Ask yourself: what do you want to get out of bike riding, and what do you need to do to get there?
Though the idea of making New Year's Resolutions can seem cliché, the dawn of a brand new annual cycle really is a smart time to re-evaluate, re-focus and revitalise. Especially for cyclists, who quite often struggle with motivation in the colder months but have ambitions for the summer.
Now we’re in January, those summer goals are close enough that you can taste them, but far enough away that if you get serious and start planning now you’ve got plenty of time to prepare.
To help you out, we’ve created an index of some of the most useful advice articles on TWC to help you reach your goals.
Not yet a cyclist, but would like to be one? Welcome! We wholeheartedly recommend you join the club. Cycling is a great way to get fit, without putting excess stress on your joints like higher impact sports such as running. If you commute by bike, you could save money and time as well as help the environment out.
These articles might suit you...
- Making that first purchase: Buying a Women's Bike: Do you want a road, hybrid or mountain bike?
- Basics per discipline: Beginner Road Cyclist 101: All you need to know, Beginner Mountain Biker 101: All you need to know and Beginner Commute Cyclist 101: All you need to know
- Getting comfortable: How to Set Your Saddle Height, How to Set Up Saddle Angle and How to Choose a Saddle plus Common Cycling Niggles and Bike Fit Fixes and How to Adjust the Reach on Road Bike Shifters for Small Hands
- Mechanics: 7 Irrefutable Reasons to Learn Bike Mechanics, How to Change an Inner Tube and How to Repair and Inner Tube, plus Six Reasons You Keep Getting Punctures, 5 Bad Habits That Wear Your Bike Out and How to Use Your Gears Efficiently. Videos on some basics here also.
- Don't get lonely: How to Find a Group to Cycle With and 10 Dos and Don'ts of Your First Club Ride
Commute more regularly (every day?!)
Effective goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. So if you want to make commuting a way of life, decide on the number of days you will ride to work each week. Many people opt to use Monday and Friday to commute by car or public transport, dropping off or taking home clothing, towels or other items. If your journey is long, look at ways of making the distance achievable so you stick with it (like driving halfway or investing in a folding bike to combine with a train journey).
These might help...
- What you need to get started: TWC Catalogue of Commuting, Top Tips to Keep you Commuting by Bike Through the Winter, 7 Most Common Commuter Bike Light Mistakes to Avoid, Bike Lock Buying Guide and Winter Ready Urban Cycle Clothing for Women
- Cycling safety: Defensive Cycling Tips for Confident Commuting and 7 Things You Need To Be Able To Do To Commute By Bike Safely
- Motivation: How to Spruce Up a Boring Commute and Busted: 5 Top Reasons for Not Cycling to Work
- Inspiration: The 3,000km Bicycle Commute (those short journeys add up!)
Get fit through cycling or lose weight
At TWC we know there are many reasons people ride: freedom, exploration and for competition to name a few.
We'd never let fitness or weight loss eclipse those motivations. However, we also won't ever hide away from the fact that sometimes people just want to get fit. If you know that your heart isn't as healthy as it could be, that your lungs aren't as efficient as they used to be or that your waistline measures a few extra inches then cycling can help.
These will help you out...
- Weight loss: Lose Weight Cycling: Everything You Need to Know and Which Exercise is Better for Weight Loss: Running, Swimming or Cycling?
- High-intensity indoor training: 11 Things to Know Before Your First Spin Class and 8 Things I Learned at My First Spin Class plus Indoor Training for Cyclists: Turbo Training, Rollers and Exercise Bikes, Turbo Trainer Rookie Mistakes
- Training session plan ideas: The Perfect 60 Minute Gym Workout for Cyclists, 3 Great Turbo Sessions you can do in Under Thirty Minutes and 6 Pro Worthy Turbo Sessions for Winter Fitness
- Tracking training: How to Track your Cycling Training and Use it to Progress
- Inspiration: How I lost 45kg and Went from Beginner to National Champion
Plan to race, ride a new distance or complete a certain event
If you want to race, become more competitive, ride a new distance or complete a specific event then you're going to need a goal. That goal needs to be specific (eg ride 25 miles in XX time, complete 100 ride by September) and you need to draw up a plan to get you there.
- Above all else - read this: How to Actually Plan Training and Stick to It. Created in collaboration with a cycling coach, this article explains how to break your year into phases, allowing you to devise specific training that fits with your day-to-day life each week but also slots into a larger plan.
- Crit, road or time trial racing? 10 Tips for Riders Thinking of Crit and Road Racing This Year and Corners, Cobbles and Obstacles: Jo Tindley of WNT on Bunch Riding Skills
- Sportives and 'the century': Everything You Need to Take to Your Next Sportive and 6 Things that Happen to Your Body over a 100 Mile Ride
- Mega distance: Endurance Racer Jasmijn Muller: How to Train for a 24 Hour Event and How to Prepare for and Ride your first Audax
- Training: How to Find a Group to Cycle With, Everything You Need to Know About Training With a Heart Rate Monitor, Everything You Need to Know About Training With a Powermeter and 6 Pro Worthy Turbo Sessions for Winter Fitness
Eat like an athlete
What you put into your body has a dramatic effect on what you get out of it. You need to start your rides with enough fuel in the tank, keep nibbling throughout long rides and make sure you give your body what it needs afterwards.
- Pre-ride: What Can I Eat Before a Long Ride?, Refined Carbohydrates vs Unrefined Carbohydrates? and Does Carb Loading Work for Women?
- Mid-ride: Energy Gels Explained, Should We Eat Energy Gels or Normal Food on the Bike?, How to Manage your Hydration Levels on the Bike and Six Healthy Bites for the Bike
- Post-ride: How to Use Protein to Your Advantage in Recovery and Weight Loss and Top 10 Protein Sources plus Should Athletes Eat High Carbohydrate or High Protein Diets?
'Core training' is a bit of a buzz word in cycling but it is super important. Strong legs will push more power into the pedals, so obviously, you want and need those to ride well. A strong core provides a base for those powerful pins to push from. Your 'core' (stomach, back, glutes, shoulders) supports your body on the bike too, so if it's weak you may find you suffer fatigue or injury when weaker muscles are forced to take over.
Have a look at these...
- The Perfect 60 Minute Gym Workout for Cyclists
- How Do Strength and Flexibility Needs Differ for Mountain Bikers?
- Core and Strength Training: Your Guide to Creating a Personalised Programme
- 6 Strength Exercises for Cyclists
When it comes to technique, practice makes perfect. However, reading up on some of the essential skills ahead of that practice will help so it's well worth checking out the theory.
Take a look at...
- Corning: 5 Mistakes Slowing You Down when Cornering on a Road Bike,
- Climbing and descending: How Breathing Properly Really Can Make You a Better Climber, How To Use Hill Repeats to Become a Stronger and Faster Cyclist and How to Use Your Gears When Cycling Uphill plus How to Overcome the Fear of Descending by Bike in 7 Easy Steps
- Commuting: Defensive Cycling Tips for Confident Commuting and 7 Things You Need To Be Able To Do To Commute By Bike Safely
- Mountain Biking: How to Tackle Steps and Roots When Riding Uphill, How to Corner your Mountain Bike in Wet Mud and How To Ride Rock Gardens, 4 Essential MTB Skills
Try something new
Maybe you've been riding a road, hybrid, mountain or 'other' bike all your life - and now it's time for a change? Trying something different is a great way to boost motivation and you'll learn new skills and techniques along the way that will help across the cycling spectrum.
Here are some ideas...
- Track: 7 Reasons You Should Try Riding Track (Whatever your Ability) and UK Velodrome Guide
- Cyclocross: Everything You Need to Know About Cyclo-cross, Cyclocross Skills Videos and Surviving My First Cyclocross Race (and Tips for Yours)
- Long distance: Endurance Racer Jasmijn Muller on How to Train for a 24 Hour Event and How to Prepare for and Ride your first Audax. Inspiration: Winning the Transcontinental Bike Race and Feeling Strong, Powerful, Unstoppable
- Enduro: The Velocity Vixens on their first Enduro race and Coming Soon Couples Enduro Stage Race
We hope that gives you a few ideas to get you started. Remember to ensure that your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Assignable/Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. So this January, pick a goal you know will make a difference to your life whilst still being attainable, and work out a path to get you there.