Okay, so maybe you’ve been off the bike for a while. Maybe a really loooong while. Maybe you were injured, work got crazy or life just got in the way. It happens. Don’t fret! You can still get back on the horse bike! Before you go riding off into the sunset, take a minute to recalibrate to ensure a successful and safe return to the trails.
1. Take It Easy
So you can’t do that long 3-hour training ride you used to, either because you lack the fitness or the time to complete it. Don’t beat yourself up over it! Avoid the “all or nothing” type of thinking. Forgot how fast or strong you were in the past and focus on the present. Anything is better that nothing. Even with a short ride you’ll be moving in the right direction!
2. Buy A Cookbook
For a lot of us, an extended period of inactivity is often times accompanied by some not-so-great eating habits. Go to a book store and find a cookbook you like! The inspiration from a few new recipes can get you charged back up for making good food choices and fueling for rides. Keep your dietary preferences and time constraints in mind when checking out the recipes so that you don’t get frustrated and slip back into bad eating habits. Hint: If you are crunched for time, Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” probably isn’t right for you.
3. Set Goals
Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Then, write them down and read them frequently. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, add a daily reminder to your calendar or stash a list of goals in your wallet. Those little daily reminders are great motivation for getting (and staying) on track. Start small with your goals and push yourself to work back up to where you were before. Who knows, maybe this time you’ll come back even stronger?
4. Reward Yourself
Be nice to yourself! Reward yourself for success (not necessarily with food). If you successfully complete your goals for the week, go get yourself a massage! Or, perhaps some new gear for your bike? New cycling shoes! Whatever your reward, making it something that will remind you that You’re on track! You’ve got this!
5. Try Something New
Try a new activity that compliments your cycling goals. Maybe your local trails are closed for the winter but you really want to ride? Find a local indoor spin class! Spin classes are a great way to build your cardiovascular fitness back up. Maybe you want to rebuild your strength? Try Cross Fit, rock climbing, skiing, yoga, Barre, TRX…whatever suites your fancy! Just be sure to ease into whatever you choose to reduce the risk of injury.
6. Analyze Your Excuses
Figure out what got you off track in the first place. Was it a busy work schedule or some other time commitment? Be honest with yourself to identify any excuses that have been preventing you from getting out for your ride. Formulate a plan to overcome that excuse this time around! Perhaps wake up earlier or adjust your social calendar. One less happy hour never hurt anyone…
7. Look Within
Take a few minutes right now to remember how good it feels to be out on your bike. Do you enjoy watching the sunrise from your saddle? Are you are an adrenaline junky? Does riding gives you more confidence? Remember WHY you ride. Write down your “why” along with your goals so you can remind yourself that it’s all worth it.
8. Be Positive
Positivity goes a long way and that means you have to stop beating yourself up over the past. Replace those negative thoughts – “I’m so out of shape” with positive ones, “I’m so excited to be back on my bike!“. You may want to increase your fitness or find your confidence on technical terrain again, but constantly saying negative things about your current fitness will not help. Recognize where you are now and start taking the steps to get where you’d like to be!
9. Suck It Up
Yeah it’s a bummer that you’re off track, but it is what it is. There’s nothing you can do about the past but there’s a lot you can do about the today. And no, it won’t be easy — it wasn’t last time. Do the work, it will be hard, but worth it in the end.
10. Journal Your Progress
Write down your rides and/or workouts. How did you feel? What did you see? Any special observations? A good old spiral notebook will do the trick here but if you prefer a digital tool, checkout Training Peaks and/or Strava. Writing things down is a great way to pick up on trends, both good and bad, and make adjustments accordingly.
11. Find an Accountability Buddy
Find a friend to ride with, hire yourself a coach or enlist the support of a family member. Find someone who can keep you motivated and on track, but who also won’t buy into any of your excuses.
..and with that, you are ready to get back on the bike!
Richard La China is a former professional mountain bike racer, IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.
Best investment ever. The Ninja mountain bike skill clinics will definitely bring up your riding level a notch or two....
Best investment ever. The Ninja mountain bike skill clinics will definitely bring up your riding level a notch or two. Being able to get instant feedback from the instructor (s) in this case Richard La China and his assistant is invaluable. From getting the correct riding position to improving the skills necessary to have a fast flow through the trails builds confidence and is the key to having more fun when mountain bike riding. Also I've taken one-on-one lessons (with Richard La China) and it really speeds up the learning (in my case it was basic jumping) in any area where you deem to be weak in or just need improvement. ~ Thad G.
I would recommend this to riders of all skill levels and ages.
I want to thank the Ninja Mountain Bike Camp and instructor Richard La China for a great weekend on April...
I want to thank the Ninja Mountain Bike Camp and instructor Richard La China for a great weekend on April 22-23rd. As an 59 year old ex-MX racer and 28 year Mt bike rider, found the personal instruction and group demonstrations were instrumental in my growth as a rider. You can teach an old dog new tricks. The seeing "new" lines, different jumping techniques and cornering skills all helped me open my eyes to a world of riding I had not experienced on my own. I want to all of the attendees for a great experience. I would recommend this to riders of all skill levels and ages. ~Joel Palmer
I went to the clinic that was offered April 6-9 at Mulberry Gap in Elljay Georgia. The coaches were awesome!...
I went to the clinic that was offered April 6-9 at Mulberry Gap in Elljay Georgia. The coaches were awesome! I was riding faster with more control than ever before! If you want to get better take one of their camps! ~Bill S.
Within one hour we we clearing a 5 foot jump easily!
Wow, a friend and I just did a one day private lesson with Richard and I can’t believe how much...
Wow, a friend and I just did a one day private lesson with Richard and I can’t believe how much we learned. I’ve been riding for over 10 years but with all self taught skills. We wanted to learn fundamentals the right way and Richard took us through all of that (along with critical bike setup) and the intermediate stuff that they teach in one day plus he spent an extra hour at the end to teach us jumping which I had always been nervous about. Within one hour we we clearing a 5 foot jump easily and with confidence, we even learned to move the bike in the air on a crossed take off and landing. I think my favorite part thpugh was riding fast on the very gnarly technical descent. We will be booking up more private lessons during the summer at Big Bear. Thanks Richard you are a very good teacher! ~John U.
I attended an intermediate skill clinic last year and had an awesome time. My riding improved instantly and I have...
I attended an intermediate skill clinic last year and had an awesome time. My riding improved instantly and I have really enjoyed the increased confidence jumping my bike over obstacles. My muscle memory takes a while to kick in and Coach Richard and his crew of master Ninjas were really patient with me. I even got some bonus education on climbing faster during one of our warm-up laps! Even though I have been riding for years I learned something new with every skill taught. The clinic was worth every penny and I will be signing up for an advanced one this summer. ~Michael W.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.