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 have been riding for 1.5 years and still have a lot to learn but Richard and the team are...
I have been riding for 1.5 years and still have a lot to learn but Richard and the team are great teachers. I have been a bit apprehensive about jumping in the past but after two days of instruction with Richard, Aaron, Daniel, Ivan, and Erin I feel much more confident and won't be afraid to take on jumps anymore. The instructor staff are all very experienced riders and it showed. They are all also very friendly and most importantly patient. They aren't afraid to share stories of their mistakes while trying to explain why not to do things a certain way. You truly are part of the Team Ninja family when you are at the classes and I can't wait to go back to another class! Thank you Richard and all of the other instructors. ~Jonathan R
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class...
We attended the 2-Day Mountain Bike Skills Camp in Denver CO. I'm a beginner to mountain biking and the class exceeded my expectations. The first day was basic fundamental training from bunny hops to cornering your bike. The second day we put those skills to the test by climbing and downhill at all different skill levels, Richard and Aaron even took video to help improve our skills. Well worth your time if you want to improve! ~Russ Anderson
Highly recommend this class for all ages/skills. I will definitely be taking more classes!
Great class! I wish I took this class seven yrs ago when I started mountain biking. Richard and his team...
Great class! I wish I took this class seven yrs ago when I started mountain biking. Richard and his team was awesome. I learned how to approach uphill switchbacks, how to "pre-turn", and most important, how to descend with confidence. Bottom line: I am more efficient and safer rider. As another review said, "best money spent on mountain biking." You can have an expensive bike, but if you don't know how to ride, what's the point? Highly recommend this class for all ages/skills. I will definitely be taking more classes! ~Rean
This past fall I finally broke down and upgrade my mountain bike. I was riding a hard tail bike mostly...
This past fall I finally broke down and upgrade my mountain bike. I was riding a hard tail bike mostly for the workout. After racing in an Xterra, I realized that a new bike was in my future. ( I could tell a huge story about the process of purchasing a new MB and the massive amount of miss information you can obtain from bike shops. Especially when you know nothing about bikes. ) Not long after I purchased the new MB, I had my first over the handle bars wreck. I still cannot remember the actual crash. I can see the rut that I am about to hit on the downhill, and then I remember waking up on the trail barely able to breath. The crash gave me some time to catch up on email. One of those emails was a beginners MB clinic hosted by Richard and the Ride Like a Ninja crew. I swallowed my pride and signed up. To date I have done everything I was taught. I made every adjustment to my bike that was recommended. I then had the bike fitted. The skills taught that day are priceless to me. For the first time I understand what position my body needs to be in for each type of terrain. I am not perfect by any means, but in my mind I am shouting the word NINJA to remind myself. I practice the techniques ever time I ride. ~ Hal N.
Probably the best money I’ve spent on mountain biking …
I took the Ninja intermediate / advanced course here in Denver the weekend before last, and it was probably the...
I took the Ninja intermediate / advanced course here in Denver the weekend before last, and it was probably the best money I've spent on mountain biking in quite a while. Aaron tuned the clinic to our skills and needs, putting in extra time and attention where we needed more work and covering a wide range of skills. After mountain biking for almost 20 years, there were still missing pieces (and some bad habits) to my riding that he picked up on, explained, and then showed me how to improve, correct, and practice. Aaron was knowledgeable, patient, and progressed through skills in steps so there wasn't too much to digest at any one time. As the day progressed, he rolled them all together as we moved through different trail features, so I really got a good sense of how to put things into practice. He was also very familiar with the venue, Village Greens Park, so he knew exactly which sections to hit to practice particular skills - it was a great combination of drills and very watchful instruction, then honing those skills on real trail features. And, as we talked about with him during lunch, even experienced riders should consider the "fundamentals" course - I really had no idea that I needed work on some of the basics, like braking. I'm heavy on the rear brake just as a long-established habit - who knew? (Well, apparently Aaron did...) ~Jon Gotow
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.