The thrill of the darkness; Going through the night and wondering what’s around the corner. A cool, calming breeze hits your face and you embrace the wind like it’s a long lost friend. You light up the night as you power down the road, focusing only on your senses and surroundings. The night sky is your map. The pavement is your canvas as you paint the ground and tell a tale of a road less traveled.
Okay, that’s a little bit dramatic, but it’s showing how you can take the simplicity of riding your bicycle at night down some empty farm roads and turn it into an adventure. Exercise doesn’t need to feel like a chore. There’s much more to it than that. Going to the gym, walking outside, running down a trail. These are all amazing ways of staying fit. It’s how you choose to do these things that give you the energy to keep going with them. Never discount positivity as part of your routine.
Cycling for exercise can be hard to start when you’re feeling down. You might not feel challenged enough by the routes you’ve taken or you may not have the right motivation to begin. Taking that first step out is sometimes all you need. Here’s a few ways to improve your ride so you can make that step a bit easier.
Set your route on a map
Whether you’re living in a city, a smaller town, or the countryside, we all have places to go. We share the road with each other so cycling can sometimes be a bit precarious. Plan your route accordingly! It’ll make your life easier as you try to navigate to the trail or simple cycling around your city. The bonus that you get from doing this is that you might find some hidden paths or unique landmarks that you didn’t even know were there! Eventually you’ll know begin to have that map in your head wherever you go. Who needs technology anyway! (I do to make those routes..)
(Local trail I ride on courtesy of Doug Howdy.)
Stretch your bike as much as you do yourself
I won’t debate the positives/negatives to stretching before cycling. There are plenty of different studies that will give you more information on this. What I will tell you is warming up before heading out will make it much easier to get you on that bicycle and out the door. Get your heart beating with some simple cardio or weight lifts.
The same goes for your bicycle. A good looking bike works wonders for a healthy cycling mindset. Keeping it clean and oiled will give you that boost in confidence you might need when you think about staying in. Take some time to clean your bike with some soap and elbow grease. The chassis can get pretty dirty if you ride during those rainy days.
The heart of your bicycle is the chain. If you’re hearing a squeak while riding or you’re noticing that it feels a bit stiff to pedal while you ride, you may need to lubricate your chain. If you’re riding in wet conditions, you’ll want to do it much more often. Pretty much after each ride depending on conditions. Use a wet lubricant during those rainy or snowy seasons to get the most out of your ride. The same goes for dry conditions. You’ll want to make sure to lubricate with a dry lubricant to keep off all the excess dirt from trails and cycling lanes. You won’t need to clean as often as you do in wet conditions so play by ear or by look for this.
To clean your chain:
- Take a wet rag/cloth and wipe the chain down while back-pedaling. If your chain is particularly dirty, use a brush (e.g. Toothbrush, toilet brush, etc.) to clean out excess dirt from your chain before wiping it clean.
- Take your lubricant, shake well, and apply it to the inside of the chain while you backpedal. Make sure you take your time so you apply the lubricant completely to the inside of the chain. Once you’ve done that, back-pedal the chain a few times to ensure that you’ve lubricated the chain thoroughly.
- Wipe off any excess lubricant by taking your rag, placing it on the inside of the chain, and back-pedaling a few more times.
For a better ride, let it dry overnight after cleaning. The lubricant will set in on the chain and you’ll be ready to go for the next adventure.
Make a playlist of music or listen to a podcast
Getting outside into nature and putting down the electronics can be a big task when it’s so ingrained into our modern lifestyles. You’ll want to take in your surrounding when you’re outside. Be aware of cars, people, and wildlife. It’s also nice to enjoy the occasional silence when you’re out on the road with nobody around. For the extra hard times when you can’t seem to go out, try to listen to something to boost your motivation or make the ride a learning experience with a podcast. Always remember to be aware of your surroundings when you’re cycling. Never listen so loudly that it drowns everything around you.
Who says that you can’t listen to your death metal or learn how to speak Japanese while enjoying a casual ride down a farm road. Whatever motivates you is the most powerful tool.
There’s always another day
Sometimes even with all the motivation from everywhere in the world, you can’t make it out that door. Don’t worry about that. The most important thing is to keep your mind healthy. Take that day off and maybe go for a walk. Binge watch your favourite show. Read a book. Play some games. Cook something new! Do what makes you feel good so you can have that better mindset. If you can do this, the other things will fall in line.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been going at it for years, you will have those moments sometimes. Go into cycling (or any exercise) with a positive mindset and you’ll benefit from it so much more.