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.
I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo!
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop...
I participated in the beginner skill clinic at Malibu Creek last Saturday, because I'm truly a beginner who couldn't stop falling down during each mtb ride. The class was small and super fun...and the instructors (Richard and Kris) were informative and dynamic. The clinic was small enough for each member to practice each learned skill and receive immediate feedback. I learned many new skills on that day and felt much more confident with my bike-body connection. I felt so confident that I recently signed up for the Catalina MTB Gran Fondo...the 55 mile route! Woohooo!! The next day, as I was road biking (training for the Solvang Double Century), I dodged a bullet on the Snake/Mulholland by applying my learned mtb skills--a long towing truck went over almost half of our lane on a blind turn as we were descending. Instead of fixating on the truck, I remembered the importance of looking for a clear path and keeping my eyes on where I want to go....Now I understand what people meant when they said that mtb will help improve my road riding skills too! I'm grateful for the opportunity to learn, and I look forward to the next clinic! ~ Uyen N.
I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails.
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I...
I just rode on my local trails today after taking the Ninja clinic in Sedona. I was so happy I could transfer what I learned in Sedona to my own trails. There is one drop and one off camber downhill section I never have had the courage or skill to ride until today. It was so fun to ride them and not get off and walk. Richard La China and Courtney Cowan were fantastic instructors. Not only did I up my technical skills in Sedona it was also a ton of fun! ~Patty Elliott
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though...
Took the mini clinic on jumping skills because I can't resist the urge to get in the air even though I always knew I didn't really understand the mechanics of it, so it was a kind of "huck and hope" affair. The result was that I didn't land about 1 in 5 attempts. The clinic with Aaron was great! He explained the mechanics of how the bike is handled coming into, through and out of the jump and starts with individual small skills progressing step by step in a very manageable way (even for me, and I started this stuff at 45 and I'm not very coordinated). What I feel sets Aaron apart is his ability to communicate his explanations and demonstrate movements in a way that makes them easy to learn even for someone with little experience. He is also very patient and encouraging, which helps when one is starting out and struggling a little with some movements. I definitely intend to do more clinics with Ninja MBS. I feel like it will save me a lot of time and frustration as well as possibly a lot of money in medical bills! ~Jill M.
I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys.
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years...
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years I learned a lot from this clinic. The techniques covered ranged from reviewing basic skills such as basic body position to practicing more advanced techniques like switchbacks, bunny hops, and cornering. I was able to recognize, get instruction, and practice some skills where I was weak and instantly improve them. Even skills I thought I was pretty good at I was able to pick up useful tips. I also realized that deliberate skills practice is not something I incorporate into my riding, but now that I understand what I should be doing I will make sure to add this in! After taking the course my comfort on the bike has improved and I am more aware of my body position and movement of the bike. I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys. The instructors are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There is a lot of one on one help and they will make sure you understand the skills being taught and are able to perform them successfully. Plus the clinic was lots of fun! I highly recommend and hope to work with these guys again soon. ~ Michelle A.
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