Words: Sarah Devriese
Sometimes we may just get tired of biking… I know, hard to imagine. But it does happen. For me, it can be difficult to be motivated when the weather is cold and the skies are so dark. Or perhaps you’re stuck in a rut and it seems like the same stuff over and over. And over.
Time to freshen things up! Here are five ideas that have helped me.
Adventures on snow
Just when I’m getting a little tired of wet days, a muddy bike, and too much darkness, there’s snow to mix things up. I started snowboarding years before even considering mountain biking. When I moved to BC and started mountain biking too, these two sports nicely balanced each other out. Every six months or so, things got mixed up and neither got old. I then also learned to ski just to try something new and absolutely love it. These days, my winters are divided between the bike, the skis, and my trusty snowboard. It’s enough variation that biking remains novel and exciting, even if I’m just doing simple trails (which is what I stick to when night riding). Then when summer hits, I’m excited again to ride, ride, ride.
Unfortunately, this winter, I’m not getting many chances to ski due to a lack of snow. So I’ve needed a few other tips to not get burned out on the bike.
A bit of bling
Nothing is more exciting than getting something new. Last year, I bought a fancy stem. It was my first blingy part and I was really excited about it. This year, I decked out my bike in all black by getting a new flat handlebar. Whether big or small, something new can help to get you excited to go riding. Imagine how exciting a new bike would be! If it were me, I’d probably sleep next to it because I’d be so excited. And I’d want to ride it each and every day. On a smaller scale, a new pair of gloves or a jersey can get that same excitement to get back out there. There’s a treat for every budget to make your next ride feel like Christmas morning.
I started strength training at the beginning of December. Pretty much the darkest time of the year. It was tough, yes, to stick to this new routine, especially when the couch looked a whole lot more comfortable. But after about a month, it became a habit and now I look forward to it. I set aside a special area in my home and got some dumbbells from Craigslist. And with Jaclyn as my trainer, I have no excuses not to do my routines. I’m not training for a big race or anything but just to keep injuries at bay, ride longer, and be stronger. And it’s given me a new interest in my bike this winter because I’m actually noticing a difference! So my new goal to train is getting me excited to see what I can bike, like clearing a technical climb or getting a bit faster on the down, or just not getting as fatigued as I used to.
If you’re like me, you’ve may have been sticking to your tried-and-true rides this winter. Those that are familiar, get you out the door for a bit, and don’t require too much coordinating with friends. But here in the PNW, there is a lot of variety we can ride year-round! Mix it up! My friends and I recently skipped the North Shore and went riding in the Valley. It was like a breath of fresh air compared to our usual weekend ride. If driving far isn’t an option due to other commitments, try riding your local trails backwards (if they’re designed for that). Another idea is to ride the same trails, but in a different order. It feels different to your muscles and your brain will be more engaged on this “fresh” ride. Finally, get some extra motivation from your friends and try a longer ride, like this 19 km one we did on Seymour a few weeks ago. By setting the goal before the ride with your pals, you’re holding each other accountable to actually do it. And it was awesome.
Sometimes a bit of competition is all that’s needed to spice things up. It could be as simple as “hey, I bet I can beat you to that gate”. Or it can be more difficult. Last winter, I was on a ride with three friends. One decided that we must all clear a particular technical piece of climbing before we could proceed. If someone didn’t make it, then everyone had to do it again until we all did it in one go. It took us three or four runs for all of us to get through the section. It made us work and it was challenging, but it also made it interesting and as friends, we had to encourage each other as well. I’ve found that adding a bit of lighthearted racing into my usual rides is a fun way to mix it up. Especially when I pass a friend on a steep climb. =)
So, hopefully you are not in a winter rut to begin with and still pounce out the door, ready for each ride. But if you are like some of us who just don’t always have the motivation, hopefully these tips help. They’ve helped me through yet another winter. With daylight savings back now, we will soon be riding endlessly long summer days.
My name is Jaclyn Delacroix, I live work and play on Vancouver's North Shore, this is my story.