Is your training sucking the fun from cycling?

Disconnect and just enjoy the ride

One of the most common questions new cyclists ask each other is, what events have you got coming up? What sportive do you have this weekend? What time did you get in the time trial? Where did you place at the downhill? When are you starting practice for that enduro?

This might not raise an eyebrow as cycling is, after all, a sport, and a competitive one. A lot of people refer to drop bar road bikes as racer bikes, and most of the time when cycling is featured on TV or in newspapers it's in the sport section.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, sport is defined as "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment." And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Setting goals and targets, working towards them, increasing your fitness, getting faster and stronger; these are all admirable, and will help make you a better rider.

It’s all too easy to get caught up going faster, getting fitter, increasing power, and not actually taking the time to enjoy the ride

And many people love competition and the excitement and exhilaration it brings; pitting yourself against other riders, lining up on the start line, waiting for the gate to drop or the blips to sound, riding your hardest, pushing body and bike to the max, and hours of training and preparation. This drives a lot of cyclists to ride. But it can be all too easy to get caught up with going faster, getting fitter, increasing power, and not actually taking the time to enjoy the ride.

Pressures to train

With more and more analytical devices and apps such as GPS computers, cadence sensors, power meters and not to mention Strava, you can monitor every element of your ride. How does that saying that’s only half jokingly made go? If it's not on Strava, it didn’t happen. In our increasingly time-pressed lives, there can be pressure to make every ride count and for each activity to be given a measure of value.

Cycling often takes you out into some beautiful places. Take time to look around, appreciate your surroundings, and enjoy
Cycling often takes you out into some beautiful places. Take time to look around, appreciate your surroundings, and enjoy

In the process, the sheer joy of flying along a road or bumping your way imperfectly down a trail can be lost. What happened to just having fun on your bike? 

If you look up the etymology of the word sport, you’ll find that it comes from the old English word disport, which means pastime, and really that’s what cycling is for many people — albeit a serious pastime that can take up most of our spare time and money. 

Most of us remember the fun and freedom that cycling gave us when we were little. Cycling meant escaping outside, meeting friends, going on adventures and discovering the world. Cycling still offers us that, but only if we’re willing to turn off Strava, disconnect our GPS and give ourselves a day off from the training program. It’s too easy for cycling to turn from pleasure to chore if you don’t give yourself a bit of time to just enjoy the ride.

So by all means set your goals, plan those training rides, aim for those miles, but maybe take a little bit of time away from the apps. Ride out with no plan and just have fun on your bike. 

Aoife Glass

Women's Cycling Editor
A mountain biker at heart, also drawn to the open road. Likes big long adventures in the mountains. Usually to be found in the Mendip Hills or the Somerset Levels in the UK. Passionate about women's cycling at all levels.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Rocky, rough and a long way from anywhere.
  • Current Bikes: Liv Avail Advanced Pro 2015, Juliana Furtado 2013, Canyon Roadlite AL
  • Dream Bike: Juliana Roubion, Liv Avail Advanced SL
  • Beer of Choice: Red wine for the win!
  • Location: Weston Super Mare, Somerset, UK

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