With a New Year, comes the resolutions. While most of us fall off the resolution wagon within a few weeks, being overly ambitious is usually the culprit. If you haven’t made a resolution but are looking for ideas, I present these reasonable, achievable bicycle related resolutions. Pick any one of these and feel a sense of accomplishment and growth. Pick all 6 if you are really ambitious.
1. Challenge yourself beyond your regular riding
This one is most like the traditional resolution. With so many events in the Austin area, surely there will be something to stretch yourself. Doing the 30-40 weekly club ride? Try popping up to 60 milers. Sign up for a century, or if you’ve done one of those, sign up for a double. If off road is more your thing, try a 12 hour or 24 hour race. Events are good because if you go ahead and sign up for one, you created some accountability for training.
2. Change it up
If you are feeling the bicycle rut, maybe doing something different is a way to rediscover your inner bike bliss. Doing nothing but road riding? Try mountain biking or cyclocross. Conquered the century but want more of a challenge? Sign up for a triathlon. Tired of training schedules and heart rate monitors? Dump the diary and the diagnostic equipment and do some soul riding. Or show up for an alley cat race completely untrained. Looking for more social interaction? Join in a bike polo match or ride the Thursday Night Social Ride. Variety is the spice of life, and we’ve got tons of it on two wheels in Austin.
There are other ways to mix things up and feel good. Help out fixing up bikes at the Yellow Bike Project, be a ride leader for the Austin Cycling Association rides, work to make the streets safer with Bike Texas and the League of Bicycling Voters, or help out with set up or aid stations at a race. Riding a bike feels good but so does helping the community out.
4. Learn to maintenance/repair something
I’m always shocked by how many cyclists don’t know how to change or patch a flat tire. If you are one of those riders, a little education stands between you and much more independence on the road or trail. Several local shops offer free maintenance classes on a regular basis where you learn basics like flat repair and brake and derailleur adjustments. If you’ve got the basics down, challenge yourself by learning to re-cable your bike or re-build a headset or bottom bracket. Better yet, severely raise your mechanic’s cred by learning to true and build your own wheels. There are few things as satisfying as riding a set of wheels your built yourself. Look for the occasional class on wheel building from local shops, learn at the Yellow Bike Project, or pick up a book. It’s easier than you think!
5. Get properly fitted
If you spend a lot of time in the saddle, minor irritations can become major problems. If you suffer from aching backs, sore arms, or hot feet when you ride long, you probably need to seek out a good bike fitter. Most of the shops in town have certified fitters that can help you and you certainly should take advantage of their skills before selecting a new high priced bike. If triathlon is your style, I highly recommend you spend the time and money on a fitter with triathlon experience before you buy any deep dish wheel or pointy helmet. Because there is no drafting in triathlon and you have to run once you are done with the bike, getting your body as aerodynamic as possible why maintaining power and strength for the run can be the difference between a podium and a DNF.
6. Ride somewhere you would go in a car and do it in regular cloths
This one goes along with resolution 2, but I separate it because I think this should be on everyone’s list. Many, many cyclists don’t leave the house on their bike without a lycra kit and some fitness goal. The bicycle is a fun fitness and competitive tool, but it is also one of the most efficient vehicles for moving people in the world. Whether it’s meeting a friend for coffee, running to the grocery store for some odds and ends, or heading out to listen to some music or watch a movie, riding there feels good, saves money, and take one more car off the street while adding another cyclist to the landscape. I add riding in regular cloths because showing up for coffee or a movie in your club kit is, well, just something you should avoid. Break from fitness being the goal. Plus you just might rediscover that childhood joy that got you on a bike in the first place.