Upping your cycling game can be a thrilling experience. As you take on more trails, terrains, and distances, you improve your skills as an avid cyclist. However, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to face a new cycling challenge and what you could potentially be ready to try. Taking on a challenge you’re not ready for can end in injury and possibly hold you back from advancing further. To know if you’re ready to take on a new cycling challenge, consider these tips:
Mastering the Basics
First and foremost, before taking on any new challenge on your bike, you must master the basics of cycling. From braking safely in the dry and wet to executing a great corner, the basics are what will keep you safe. Some basic skills every cyclist should have down before moving up levels is braking properly, how to clip in and out, descending and ascending a hill, cycling through traffic, cycling through different types of weather, fitting your helmet properly, and knowing what essentials to bring on a long or short ride.
Mastering the basics can take time, so endeavour to have complete confidence in your basic riding skills before approaching a cycling challenge.
Upping Your Fitness Level
Cycling calls for having a certain level of fitness to be successful and take on new challenges. While anyone can ride a bike, cycling requires balance, endurance, muscle, and agility. If you’re looking for more challenges in cycling, it’s essential to make sure your body can handle it. Taking on a longer, harder route or trying your first race is a big decision. Staying fit and healthy is crucial for making it through a new challenge and being able to easily recover from it afterwards.
This all means training. Training sounds hard, but remember, cycling is fun. Training is simply doing more of it, and from time to time going harder. If you are looking to have a base level of fitness, then 3 rides a week is great. If you would like to ride with good bunches, and consider racing and longer “Gran Fondo” type events, then you really should consider setting a goal of 5 days a week – for a couple of those days to be longer days and a couple of those days being hard intervals.
If You Want a Challenge
The best signal that you are ready for a cycling challenge is when you’re looking for one. When cycling becomes your passion, you’ll soon want to try new trails, join group rides, or even enter a multi-day bike tour. If you feel like you’re ready to take on an obstacle, then listen to your mind and body and go for it.
It’s best to ease up levels as you take on new challenges. For instance, if you’ve never cycled more than 20km, perhaps it may not be time yet to start racing. If you want to try something harder than riding to your local coffee shop and back, it’s probably time to join a cycling community, find some friends and go for longer rides bit by bit. You’ll be surprised, but once you can ride 70km, 100km is not a huge leap. Similarly, once you’ve conquered your first century, then 130km isn’t out of reach either!
Take your time when trying a new cycling challenge. Jumping in too fast can be dangerous, in that when you push yourself too hard physically, you lose focus mentally and are more likely to have an accident. So be sure that you’re ready for it, set small goals, continue to work on them and good luck!