New Year’s Resolutions for Every Type of Cyclist
The New Year is upon us once again. And, like most athletes, cyclists find that the turn of the year lends itself to reevaluating routines and setting new goals for the next 12 months. Whether you want to deepen your dedication to your new cycling habit or push your pedaling power to another level, there’s a resolution that will help you do it.
Over more than three decades of cycling and coaching others, Coach Darryl MacKenzie has set and kept many a New Year’s resolution. These goal-setting habits have helped him grow from a fast-pedaling young rider to a seasoned cycling mentor — and they’ve kept him committed to a sport that’s helped him stay young through all those years.
As we look toward another year, here are his tips for setting your own cycling resolutions, wherever you are in your cycling career.
Reassess Your Cycling Goals
Many cyclists get stuck on one path when it comes to improving themselves — they only think about miles. If you’re fixated on that, you’ll only have one goal: Ride farther this year. But that may not be what you need, and your best next steps depend on where you are in your cycling journey.
“Cycling can get stale,” Coach Darryl explains. “You’re not progressing, and quite possibly, the new year won’t be as successful as the previous year.”
So, don’t just stick with expanding the same tired routine. Before you start planning your resolutions, step back and take some time to evaluate where you are and where you want to be.
Perhaps you’re a road or mountain rider and want to add gravel biking into the mix. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about riding with a cycling group. You might actually want to add miles, even pedal a century. Whatever it is, it’s important to think through your goals and choose resolutions that fit them.
For Darryl, those goals changed significantly over the course of his cycling career, and that meant his resolutions looked quite different from one decade to the next. To that end, here are some cycling resolution ideas for four different stages of your cycling journey.
Resolutions for Newer Cyclists
New cyclists often ride inconsistently or just as a hobby, even when they enjoy it. But you may be ready to take the next step this year, making it a serious, regular commitment. Here are some resolutions to consider to help you move forward:
- Set a schedule for more regular rides. When you put your rides in your calendar, it becomes a commitment that’s harder to avoid.
- Get better cold-weather cycling clothes. If you have what you need to stay warm on the bike, you’ll be less likely to lose the habit during wintertime.
- Prioritize comfort. Many newer riders abandon the sport when they try to ride more because they aren’t prepared to stay comfortable. Consider setting a goal to upgrade key comfort components such as your saddle and chamois.
- Consider a bike upgrade. You may have started with an old bike from your garage or picked up a beat-up used one. A new bike that’s made for more miles may help you achieve your goals this year.
- Start a ride log. Want to track your progress by the numbers? Starting an electronic or paper ride log could help you see how you’re faring, whether in terms of speed, miles, or overall fitness.
- Try a different type of riding. If you want to add gravel biking to your repertoire, consider what it would take. You may not need a second bike, but you’ll certainly want an extra set of wheels.
- Look for a cycling group. The new year is an ideal time to look for a new cycling group, as other riders may look to join too. Riding with others also helps you keep your commitment strong.
Resolutions To Take Your Cycling to the Next Level
Perhaps you’re already well established in your cycling routine, and this is the year you want to get stronger and go deeper with it. These resolutions may help:
- Consider events you’d like to do. Look into big cycling events in your area. You might find a regular Saturday ride, a charity event, or a week-long cycling tour. Darryl used to take “cycling vacations” to use his rides as a chance to get away and unwind. There are all sorts of ways to give cycling a more prominent role in your life.
- Optimize your bike for faster riding. At one point, Darryl realized he needed to "get to where my bike wasn’t slowing me down.” If you’re ready to go faster, you may need to upgrade your bike or look for ways to make it lighter and more aerodynamic.
- Learn to ride in a paceline. Already a group rider? This could be the year you learn to maximize the benefits. Consider setting a goal to learn how to draft behind other riders and work in an effective paceline.
- Aim for 100 miles a week. Many serious cyclists say this the the marker that separates the casual riders from the committed ones. If you want to cross that threshold, you can start planning accordingly this year.
- Tune up your maintenance routine. The more you ride, the more you need to give your bike some TLC. This year, take sure you’re on top of your maintenance game.
- Deepen your commitment to the cycling community. Community is one of the best aspects of cycling, and going deeper in that department may be just what you need to renew your love of the sport. This could be the year to get to know other riders better, train to be a cycling coach, learn how to offer bike fits or take on extra responsibilities with your club.
- Lighten your load. If you’re training for speed, this may be a good time to consider a lighter bike or other upgrades that will help you conserve energy.
Resolutions for Going the Distance
Maybe you’re a regular rider, but you’re ready to really put your stamina to the test this year. If distance is your focus, try these resolutions on for size:
- Set realistic goals. If you’re used to pedaling 20 or 30 miles, don’t expect to jump to centuries overnight. Set targets to incrementally increase your distance so you can gradually build strength and endurance to support your goals.
- Train for endurance over speed. As Darryl notes, “Your muscles have to be trained for endurance — to get in that gear and go for a long time.” This is entirely different from training for speed, so be sure you put your focus in the right place.
- Train specifically. Don’t set nebulous plans for how you’ll train this year. Get specific about what it will take to reach your goals.
Resolutions for Seasoned Cyclists
Perhaps you’ve already moved past performance-enhancing resolutions and into an era where you just want to preserve the joy of cycling and keep the habit going for your health. Or maybe you want to share that joy with others. Here are a few resolutions you might consider:
- Pedal more often but shorten your rides. As Darryl explains, “The cycling you do in your 30s will most likely be entirely different from what you do in your 50s and 60s.” Now may be the time to increase ride frequency while scaling back intensity and duration.
- Plan for days off. That doesn’t mean you need to ride every day or burn yourself out. If you’re feeling overextended, look for ways to schedule breaks into your routine.
- Enhance comfort in new ways. Your riding style isn’t the only thing that should change as you age — your bike fit should, too. Consider a few adjustments that will keep you comfortable for the long haul.
- Shift your schedule. If you’re retired, you have the freedom to choose when cycling works best for you. Maybe a schedule shift is in order to take advantage of a cycling time when you’re more comfortable or more likely to stick with it.
- Explore new routes. Has your routine gotten a little stale? Why not try out some new routes to keep it interesting this year?
- Use cycling to socialize. If you’ve lost touch with an old friend, planning regular cycling outings can help you reconnect while staying healthy.
- Pass on the joy of cycling. Darryl has used this latter phase of his cycling career to invest his energy in other cyclists. If you’ve gained a lot of knowledge over the years, make a plan to share it with younger riders over the next 12 months.
What’s Your Cycling Resolution This Year?
These are just a few examples of goals you can set for the New Year, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. You may have your own creative ideas for how to take the next step in your cycling journey this year. Share your resolutions with us in the comments below!
Looking for new ways to improve as a cyclist? We’re sharing Coach Darryl’s tips every week on our blog and in our newsletter. Follow along so you never miss the latest advice. You can also find more of Coach Darryl’s thoughts over at his website.