We all love to ride, why then is it so hard at times to find the motivation to get out there on our bikes? There are many obstacles in our lives; stress with work and family, getting stuck in "coping" mode when dealing with the world and just a feeling of being under it. Ever experienced the "slow boiled frog" syndrome? When you end up carrying the weight of the world, feeling heavy and worn down, before you even realised it happened?
We've all been there, and the worst part? Getting out on a bike just got harder! So when the world rears its ugly head, how do we stay "on top" and on our bikes?
1. Ride with friends
There is no better motivator than riding with our friends. The core of motivation is the joy of life and all its great things, like bike riding and people. I believe at the core of every person is an intrinsic love of being with others and sharing life... and perhaps, cycling!
Find some friends to ride or train with. It is very handy to get together with people who may have similar goals as you do. Early in my cycling life I found someone on a social ride who was planning to do the same race I had thought to try. We were both pretty new to the scene and from that moment got together and frequently trained together. It made it more worthwhile working with someone else for an individual, yet shared, goal.
Having a regular riding group or being involved with friends who also cycle is probably the best way to maintain motivation. It may also provide somewhere to get away from life and talk or share the challenges you are facing.
2. Keep it to yourself
I know people say that you should shout out your goals and plans because it makes it harder to back out...I actually believe the opposite is true. When we have decided on a course of action and are committed there is no need to say anything about it at all, rather it becomes what we are.
Talking about a plan or decision can actually dissipate the energy of conviction around that decision. It is far more effective, and powerful, to keep it to yourself and get on your bike without fanfair and talking it up. Decisions made from our own power result in effortless action. Booties, mitts and ear warmers are essential for riding in winter snow, but it is our spirit (and decision) that gets us out there!
Those that succeed talk with a demonstration of their decisions and conviction, not with their mouths. It also means the only expectations you have to take on are those you decided for yourself, not anyone else's.
3. Ride when you feel like it
Hold on, that sounds like a recipe to never riding again doesn't it? I think the only way to find true motivation is to let go of feelings of guilt, shame or anger that we can't find our mojo to get on the bike.
It is often these very emotions that get in the way in the first place. We plan to ride, pull out of the action, and then feel guilty about it. Feeling guilty lowers our esteem and energy levels which makes it more and more difficult to get back the power necessary to get up at 6 am and go riding!
The way out is to take charge of your decisions. If you don't want to go riding be honest and say i don't want to, rather than roll around in bed full of excuses. When we allow our own truth, (even if it is apparently negative), more energy is available and in an instant that "I don't want to" has the space to become an "I can't wait"!
Shoulds lead to guilt and guilt leads to no bike time and sad faces!
4. Learn not to listen to your brain
There is a part of our minds, let's call it negative intention, that really isn't interested in us doing the things that bring us the greatest joy. When we are motivated and happy it is easy to jump on a bike and even the tough training ride is indeed tough, but we love it for that. We see the value in the hard times and sometimes even welcome them for the growth they may represent.
The other part of our mind can't see the good in these actions and will think of every reason why you shouldn't go out riding. It plays like a constant burble in our heads while lying in bed trying to decide whether to get up or not.
Sometimes that voice is best ignored. When we go riding regardless, we usually arrive back home feeling great with little memory of the mind telling us what a bad idea it was!
5. The path of least (or greatest!) resistance
Practise seeing every obstacle as another opportunity to bust through into more power and motivation. One of my biggest enemies, even before I became a cyclist, was the windy day. Windy days used to drive me to irrational bouts of anger and shaking my fist at God "Oh, why have you forsaken me" was the plaintive cry.
You can imagine where this lead to when I started riding. Any windy days were an immediate no go, unfortunately, as every cyclist knows, there is rarely such thing as a ride without a head wind at some point. This lead to a moment of anger on nearly every ride.
Through the process of acknowledging and not resisting this upwelling of anger I was able to become less in effect of the wind and the emotions it stirred within me. With time I even stopped suffering from the bad allergies I always associated with the westerly winds which are common where I live.
The culmination of non-resistance was a ride through the pancake flat cane fields. We flew on our bikes north with a raging tail wind, but of course turning south was inevitable. I sat on the front in the head wind and felt a shift inside. I began to laugh almost hysterically and pedalled harder and harder. Every big gust just lead me to giggle more and more. I absolutely loved it. Now when I go riding I love to seek out the head wind and relish the opportunity it provides!
Motivation is about finding this joy in the face of a mind that would rather fight and struggle through life. It is about finding our power to overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable.
Just remember, we always feel better after a ride than before we started. Keep this in mind when the going gets tough and don't forget to set the alarm!