It seems like not long ago that we were excitedly announcing ‘the first glimmers of summer are here!’ – but actually we’ve been enjoying the sunny season for a little while now.
I always know the summer is entering its closing months when the idea of setting up my cyclocross bike (usually used as a winter road bike...) with knobbly tyres becomes suddenly very enticing. The temptation tends to coincide with all those 'Back to School' posters in WHSmiths windows.
Many of us have a ‘primary’ or ‘favourite’ style of riding, or generally getting active – and after several months of absolutely binging on it, the alternatives begin to look more interesting.
If you’re getting bored of your standard riding routine, then the best way to shake it all up is to seek a new goal to pursue. And luckily for you, we’ve dreamt up seven ideas that will help make sure you sign off your summer with a bang…
Ride your furthest distance
If you’re looking for a target to smash that will have you beaming all the way through autumn, then crossing off a major distance milestone could be the perfect option. The desire to hit your goal will also help motivate you to keep cramming in the miles in the lead up to your distance-record-attempt, too.
It’s a good idea to build up to your challenge, so start by selecting a date, a distance – and then work up to it by gradually adding a little more milage to your longest ride of the week. The golden rule of endurance riding is to avoid ‘bonking’ – so make sure you practice nutrition strategies in your training and keep eating and drinking on your big day.
Ride up a major climb
Maybe you’ve done enough miles already this summer, and what you’re seeking is a shorter, but more intensely challenge stretch. You, my friend, sound ready to tackle a big old climb. Imagine it: the sense of achievement as you conquer the mountain, the panoramic views from the top, the exhilaration as you roll or hurtle down the other side.
You can either select a climb abroad, and book yourself travel and accommodation for a long weekend in Sunny Spain or the Amazing Alps – or you could check out some of the giants on offer in the UK – Wales and Scotland are good places to start col hunting.
Once you’ve chosen your climb, try to get some training in around your local area – work out how long your ascent is going to take you, and do your best to replicate the effort. Remember – when riding solo, a climb can be treated much like a time trial – work out how long you should expect to be riding up it for, and pace your effort evenly for the best effect.
Play dot-to-dot by bike with cycling cafes
Well, this is different! Perhaps you’ve had enough of challenges – maybe you’re looking to unwind, and just enjoy riding your bike for the sake of it. And – well – a coffee and a slice of cake would be nice too, right?
The UK is full of cafes catering specifically for cyclists, many of them combining with a bike shop or workshop whilst thrilling the senses with cool bike flavoured decorations and the best espresso in town. So – why not draw up a map of them, and head out for a long ride to visit as many as possible?
Enter a race
Getting competitive about your cycling doesn’t have to be scary, and it can add a massive dose of fun to your riding when you learn how close knit and friendly the local community is.
If you’ve been thinking of having a go at racing all year, now is your time. Towards the end of the season, some racers are starting to relax a little bit, the atmosphere is slightly less tense – and it’s also a great opportunity to give yourself an idea what you’re aiming for if you plan to train to race over winter.
There are lots of different styles of racing too – the most accessible for roadies is probably the time trial – which is great if you fancy yourself as an endurance machine. If you prefer riding in a pack with others, crit racing could be for you – we’ve got guides on both via the links.
Organise a mini-tour
Touring is an amazing way of exploring the world, and spending time on two wheels. If you’re new to the idea of packing up all of your kit, loading it into panniers, and trundling off into the distance, but want to experience the joy of riding all day without deadlines – then a mini-tour is where to start.
How do you do it?
- Find a willing friend
- Pick a place to ride to
- Book a hotel there
- Ride to the hotel
- Sleep there, and either ride back, or get the train (or just repeat 2-5 all over again!)
The hotel element means you can forget a lot of the kit, just taking with you some bare necessities. You never know, this trip could be the start of a new chapter in your cycling life!
Try some different terrain
I mentioned the temptation to get out on the CX bike that tends to strike almost every time the calendar flips over to September. Suddenly soft mud, the natural obstacle course of tree roots and the traffic free trails seem unignorably tempting.
If you’re feeling a bit bored of the tarmac, then a little off-roading can be just the antidote. Of course, we don’t all have a spare bike waiting in the wings, but nearly all trail centres have hire bikes you can test out. Just be sure to start on some of the easier trails (Green or Blue) if you’re not used to riding off-road, as it requires a very different skill set!
Encourage a friend
Maybe you’ve achieved everything you wanted to achieve this summer – and now you’re just wishing one of your friends could experience the wonderful delight of smashing a new goal, too. Well – why not make it your final target of the year to get them riding?!
We’re not suggesting you tie up your best mate, bundle him/her into the car and force them to ride a bike – but if you know they’re already tempted then a little gentle coaxing could be all they need to push them over the line.
Remember the ground rules of taking a newbie for their first ride: choose a route that’s not going to push them too hard, and cycle at their pace, occasionally checking they’re happy along the way. A coffee stop at a café with amazing cake might help, too.