Like any sport or hobby, it's all too easy for cycling to lose its lustre when the winter seems to be never-ending and the sun is nothing but a distant memory.
The winter months spent waiting for the clocks to change is an ideal time for commuters, fitness riders or racers who've become stuck in a rut to spice things up a bit and remind themselves of the love they feel for biking. What you need are some ideas to get that spring in the step – or should that be spin in the pedal stroke…
New kit, routes, ride partners or just exciting ideas can provide enthusiasm and a feeling of freshness. After all, you know you love the bike, it's just that when it's cold and dark and miserable outside it can be hard to show your enthusiasm. Your bike's as reliable as ever but you need to put some thought into your side of the relationship. Here are some ideas:
1 Try something different
Most people into two wheels find that they can get a new buzz if they try a different version of cycling. From track to trail, sportive to speedway – switch disciplines and you might instantly find yourself becoming besotted. At the very least the variety can be good for the brain and a thrill as you attempt to master a new type of balance, speed and concentration.
2 Start a small group ride
Many celebrated big group rides started from small acorns. Get a group of riding mates and some occasional bikers to all meet up, agreeing to respect one another's different ability levels but to revel in the shared love for biking. Some will drift onto other hobbies while others will be smitten and addicted. From these humble beginnings groups of riders all over the country continue to meet up to share a passion for biking.
3 Go somewhere new
It's easy to get complacent because you take your bike to the same places all the time – you can just get bored. So why not let another rider take you on their favourite loops so you get to appreciate a new set of lanes, trails and scenery while your legs and lungs get a workout. Then return the favour and you're both bound to get some extra passion from learning some new territory. Variety is the spice of life!
4 Do something online
You can't be riding all the time so when you're away from your bike, try doing something cycling-related online. You could start up a blog or a club website or just get an informal email 'round' going with your mates. It could be ideas and questions about the next meet, or sharing pictures of the latest trick kit. It all helps to keep the passion high as you feed each others' interest.
5 Challenge yourself
There's nothing quite so good for testing your passion for riding, and having an excuse to get out more, than setting yourself a new challenge you know is going to stretch you. Collar a mate or two so you can make a small group and organise a route where you can get in those extra miles or new climbing challenges. Push one another to turn up and ride more, and the extra miles are easier as you chat, laugh and cry your way home.
6 Give your bike some TLC
A dirty bike only says you don't care about your two-wheeled partner. Taking the time to clean, dry and polish your trusty steed makes you proud to be seen out with it – and provides an extra little bit of motivation to get yourself out the door. Plus it helps make your regular maintenance that bit easier.
7 Watch some footage
When you can't be out on two wheels you can still fuel your passion by watching others hard at it. Try some past Grand Tour footage, the science behind Lance or a look behind the scenes of the CSC team in the Overcoming documentary or maybe some classic mountain bike action from the New World Disorder DVD. Check out Obree and Boardman in Battle of the Bikes or binge on last year's Tour de France on video or DVD.
With any relationship it's easy to take things for granted and not put in the hard work and ideas needed for it to work. Spend time working to rekindle your biking passion now and you'll be rewarded many times over.