What are your road blocks?
We all have stuff that gets in the way of what we want to do. This summer we want you to ride more, and enjoy riding more, which means we want to help you remove cycling road blocks. Road blocks such as a lack of time, bad weather, shortage of safe routes, heck even the dilemma of helmet hair can keep us from riding our bikes.
But they don’t have to, says Christi Johnson, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology sport and exercise psychology at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Or at least not as often as we let them because many of these barriers aren’t so much about you and what you want to do, but rather what you think others expect you to do.
“Many of us live under a tyranny of what we perceive as cultural expectation,” Johnson explains. “We are supposed to be busy with work. Our houses are supposed to be perfect. Our lawns are supposed to be immaculate. If we work outside the house, we’re supposed to want to cherish every free second with our children, not spend two hours doing something for ourselves like going for a bike ride.”
And social media often deepens those feelings. “We feel like we’re always being watched and judged,” she says. “When we fall short of those expectations, we feel guilt and shame. That’s where many of these barriers come from.”
Okay, that’s kind of deep, but it’s also pretty true. So before you can get to the nuts and bolts of carving out time and avoiding bad hair days, you should start with empowering yourself against these expectations. Johnson recommends focusing on three key things—why you ride, what you're good at, and who you ride with—to start.
Removing Road Blocks
Once you’re free from those preconceived notions, you’re also free from a lot of perceived barriers, and it's easier to overcome the obstacles that stand between you and your next ride. Here’s how to tackle the most common road blocks in your way.
This one should be a little easier once you embrace the notion that it’s okay to prioritize time to do things you love and that the dishes or the bills can wait until you’re back. When there’s a lot going on and it’s hard to carve out time to ride, it’s also important that you don’t waste time trying to get out the door. Organizing your riding gear goes a long way in buying you time. Take a few minutes on Sunday to lay out a few kits; fill a couple of bottles and put them in the fridge; place your helmet, shoes, and glasses in a convenient (and visible) place. If everything is ready to go, you’re more likely to go.
Depending on where you live, if you wait for the perfect day to ride, you won’t ride most days of the year. Rain and cold weather cycling gear has come a long way and investing in one or two quality items like a comfortable rain jacket and warm winter cycling shoes can erase bad-weather excuses and extend your season. Also investigate your indoor options, which are better than ever.
A steady stream of cars filled with often-distracted drivers is a legit barrier to enjoying a good ride. Getting out early in the morning or at odd hours as your schedule permits can help you avoid heavy traffic. You also can search databases like Strava to find the most popular (and likely less congested) routes in your area. Or go off the beaten path and find dirt roads in your area via Gravel Map.
Try to schedule your rides for times in the day where your energy levels are highest. If that’s not possible, put together a playlist of songs that you can count on to get your juices flowing, and pump it up when your energy is low. Remind yourself that energy begets energy, and you’ll feel better after just a few minutes on your bike.
Out of Shape
If being off form is preventing you from riding, pocket your GPS so you’re not staring at your average speed and cursing yourself for not being faster. “Always being in performance mode and always competing, even with yourself, is not that useful for being inspired to stay active,” Johnson says. “It’s okay to ride just to ride.” And the way to get back in shape is to ride more. You’re just more likely to do that if you’re not analyzing metrics and putting yourself down for being too slow or getting out of breath.
A Good Hair Day
Wanting to avoid helmet hair is a real reason some folks won’t squeeze in a ride when they don’t have time to wash, dry, or style it afterwards. A few strategies that can work wonders, depending on your style and goals: Dry shampoo or texturizing sprays can put some life back in your hair after it’s been matted down; French braids and low buns sit well under a lid and look good once it comes off, or go with a wide hairband for the day. With some experimentation, you’ll find the product and style combination that lets you pedal and go with minimal fuss.
Article orginally posted on Bicycling.com