Ask Bart Haynes: Motivation for Cyclists

A while back, I posted a blog entry titled Cycling Quotes for the sake of motivation. I was thinking about this post recently when a friend of mine posed a question to me recently. He asked,

“Bart, how do you find the motivation to get up every single morning and ride your bike?” 

This friend, like many who I know, struggle to adhere to a strict cycling regiment. They go in spurts and jags and typically train hard before races or during the summertime when the weather is agreeable. However, when things get tough – a rainstorm hits, you wake up sore, or you’re just plain not feeling it – it’s difficult to muster the strength to gear up and hit the road.

A quote that really stands out to me from the post I wrote back in November goes like this:

“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel, but ride.” -Eddy Merckx

The reason why this quote shines in my mind is because of the last two words: but ride. The most important thing that distinguishes true cyclists from those who still consider themselves as ‘amateur’ is the fact that they have dedicated themselves to riding. They do it every day despite whether or not they feel like it.

Therefore, today I’m going to share my top 5 motivators that help me stay committed to my passion for riding. My hope is that these pointers may also provide motivation for cyclists hoping to turn this hobby into a lifestyle.

1. Go to sleep and wake up early. 

When I was in my early twenties, I was a fan of staying out late. Of course, getting to bed after midnight didn’t help when I wanted to wake up before work and go for a ride. During this time in my life, I missed the most rides because I was too tired. Do yourself a favor and get in bed so that you can get at least 8 hours of sleep at night before hopping on your bike. When you wake up feeling rested, you’ll have the motivation and energy to get out first thing in the morning.

2. Stretch after getting out of bed. 

I’ve recently adopted this practice and I can’t tell you how much it tunes me into my physical being. Oftentimes, I wake up in a stupor after my alarm jolts me from dreamworld. I can spend a half hour in that strange state between awake and asleep and, before I know it, I have to be at work in an hour. Instead of spending my first few minutes dazed, I now wake up and do some simple stretches. I actually do several stretches from my post Stretching Before Riding at this time to help wake up my muscles and get my body in the mood to cruise. My motivation to get on my bike skyrockets after I’ve stretched.

3. Change out of your pajamas right away. 

On the weekends, I like to stay in my pajamas as long as possible. I enjoy taking my time, getting my coffee, reading the paper, and relaxing. However, I can find that staying so comfortable can keep me away from my bike. Therefore, changing right out of your pajamas the moment you get up can motivate you to adhere to your riding routine. I even get dressed directly in my cycling uniform when I get out of bed. It’s hard not to go on my ride when I’m all geared up!

3. Remove distractions from your morning routine. 

We all know the struggle of distractions in this age of technology. How easy is it to get sucked into the world of social media or answer emails right away in the morning? With your phone dinging in your ear the moment you turn it off of silent mode, it’s hard to put your mind in the game of riding. Therefore, my suggestion is to keep your phone on silent mode until after you’ve found your bike. Don’t open your inbox, don’t turn on the television. The only piece of technology that I touch in the morning is my stereo so that I can play some motivating music while I eat breakfast.

4. Create visual cues for yourself in your bedroom or kitchen. 

I’m a big believer in visual motivators. I like quotes (check out these bicycle quotes on my Pinterest page) and also have several role models (like Chris Froome who I recently wrote about) who help me get in the mood to ride as soon as I get up. I have several on my bedroom wall and a few vintage cycling pictures mounted in my kitchen. For example, the quote, “Cycling goals are not attained by strength, but by perseverance” is framed above my dresser. When getting dressed, I can’t not ride after reading that.

5. Eat a high protein, healthy breakfast. 

There’s noting that screams staying on the couch watching television more than a huge, sugary bowl of fruit loops or a plate of buttery pancakes. When I don’t eat a solid breakfast, I feel it right away. Therefore, I believe that a healthy diet in the morning will directly relate to your motivation in the mornings. If you’re experimenting with your breakfast options, read another of my Ask Bart Haynes series titled Diet Tips for Cyclists for some great ideas.

These are my tips for you if you’re a morning rider and if you’re struggling to find motivation as a cyclist. Once you get into a groove and help yourself find the motivation that you need, I’m confident that you won’t have a day without your bicycle. Happy riding!