It may sound strange, but during my teenage I wasn’t really an athletic person. I started pedalling in my mid twenties which is not that late but still, I saw a quick improvement of my fitness level followed by a better health condition. Since that first tryout I’ve always wanted to overcome my limits, pushing harder and having bigger rides every time. It was truly big fun, mostly because riding through unknown places and climbing new hills was giving me a lot of motivation to keep going. I found myself riding almost everyday for at least 50 kilometres and also doing a lot of climbing. I was literally “thirsty for adventures”!
My passion for cycling escalated quickly and as soon as I had the money I bought my first road bike ending up riding more than 10.000 kilometres since the first year.
But what happens when my training level (as an amateur) is stable and reasonably good? When, after doing all the local climbs for a dozen times, I have a lack of enthusiasm for planning rides and training sessions?
Lately I learned to step back and try something new, which is actually something simple but considering a different point of view. Having a gravel bike helps a lot to do the trick: I started discovering new routes, mostly off road, mixing them with the ones I already know.
This is giving me so much joy, since I can find plenty of new sights just outside my hometown, in the place I’ve always lived. I live in a beautiful hilly area between mountains and a big plateau, this means that I can choose between a flat ride and something with challenging gradients. Riding through secondary routes and off-road tracks gives me some really steep hairpins which I try to overcome pedalling without having to get off the bike and walk. This is great training yet great fun, even if sometimes it’s a hike-a-bike.
When I go back to my road bike I feel like flying. With skinny tyres on smooth tarmac and with a much lighter machine, I can appreciate the ride even more, since I feel all the difference between the two kinds of rides. When I do bikepacking and ultra distance races I sometimes regret all the fatigue I put myself in, but in the end all the bad feelings disappear giving space to happiness and all the good memories. What scares me most is not to face something too difficult during my adventures, but the fact that I could get fed up with cycling by the monotony of the everyday training. I want to be enthusiastic when riding, not abandoning myself to a “mechanical” session where all I look for is the average speed and the power output of my pedalling.
Many times I see friends getting addicted to the ride numbers, going out just to add kilometres to their strava but probably losing all the mental benefits that cycling could give after a stressful day at work.
What I would prefer is definitely to vary activities and training, even doing some sporadic running and bodyweight exercises. Every aspect of how we live cycling and outdoor activities in general is part of the process of getting in good shape, physically and mentally. Many times I consider that a good enthusiasm is the best fuel to gain some watts on the pedals! So the best suggestion for all the people who have to find motivation despite the everyday life is to search for something different. You don’t need to look far, just to change the approach on what surrounds you.
Just pedal strong and have loads of fun!