The internet is caked in articles on how to be the 'best version of yourself', how to stay motivated through miserable weather, and how to get fit again. As useful as that might sound, I expect deep down you hate these lists.
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I know I do. All that worthy optimism, the early-rising keenness, that ‘making perfect sense’ thing… as if anybody was interested in that. It’s 2019, people, not 1920. Come on.
So here’s my far-more-useful list of genuine motivations to get you back out in the cold .
1. Life is meaningless and soon you’ll die
I know, I know. Yesterday I decided to get into demotivational speaking, but then thought, why bother? It’s true that many see existentialism as either totally depressing or beret-smokingly French (think Sartre, who wrote in his novel Nausea that "Everything that exists is born for no reason, carries on living through weakness, and dies by accident").
Accept that ‘Man is condemned to be free’ because ‘once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does’, and decisions become easier. It lessens the anguish of choice if you feel that, ultimately, nothing matters. If life is meaningless and will one day end, why not enjoy a ride now? I know, right? MOTIVATED.
Hooray! I’m available for weddings as well.
2. All your friends are riding more than you
Good intentions, passion and steely resolve are healthy motivators, but let’s be honest — they’ve got nothing on your feelings of inadequacy, envy and loneliness. How many famous sportspeople achieved greatness because they felt totally secure and had nothing to prove?
If you really want to work this angle as a motivator, go on social media. Make loads of ‘friends’ on Strava, Instagram, Twitter or LifeInvader and watch them humblebrag until your sense of other people’s lives is utterly skewed.
Well-balanced people may argue that this is incredibly unhealthy, and it’s bound to end in tears, while everyone else will admit they’re doing it already.
3. You are unfit and slow
This may sound mean, but — full disclosure — only because it is. It might be more accurate to say: ‘After riding less and eating far more over winter, you are relatively unfit and slow in comparison to last summer, which may disappoint you’. But how am I going to fit that on my Genuine Titanium-Effect De-motivational Mug (£79.99)?
I myself am relatively unfit and slow, and thanks to Strava I can quantify exactly how disappointing each ride was to three decimal places.
The upside — because I am an optimist — is that Strava’s refusal to lie forces me into a corner from which the only escape is more pedalling. Thanks for the motivation Strava! I hate you so much!
4. Not riding may mean you’re a Millennial
Scan the media and you’ll find someone tutting over the latest outbreak of entitled, timid, ‘me me me’ behaviour. In fact, ‘Millennial’ is an insult. Staying home in your ‘safe space’ instead of getting out there on grim days may lead to people thinking you are one of these dreaded adult-babies. Terrifying, no? So use the new fear of being thought a coddled wimp to scare yourself outside and onto your bike. DONE.
Of course, the ‘Millennials are so feeble’ sneer is just a rebranding of ‘kids today don’t know they’re born’ routine. Behind lurks the true fear; the older generation’s dismay at finding itself replaced…
Fear of mockery is a powerful motivator, and accusations of Millennial-ness are always mocking, regardless of your actual age. However, if you genuinely are one (born between 1981-1996) enjoy the motivation of smirking at gasping MAMILs as you become a dot on the horizon. You lucky swine.
5. The real world is out there
The world — the solid, meaningful one — is not in your house. It’s not on the internet, it’s not on your commute and it’s certainly not in the place you work. It’s out in the hills and quiet places, where time is geological and life is colour. Yes, it’s winter and muddy, but brown is still a colour.
It’s horribly easy to get tangled up in cities and work and social constructs, and lose sight of the natural world completely. The result — surprise! — is stress. We didn’t evolve to deal with the ‘world’ we’ve created for ourselves, so it’s no surprise that staying motivated to navigate it can be tough.
It's essential to remind yourself of the feel, pace and reality of the world you were born for. And guess what? The greatest, healthiest, funnest and sexiest way to do that is by bicycle.