Hello, Dear Reader and thank you for joining us. I wrote Cycling Mojo Hacking Strategy just a few days ago and it’s more of a deepdive into hacking our cycling motivation. But I wanted, not to give an alternative to, but to supplement that with a bunch of bonus hacks that you can just dip into for some motivatin’ spice or just for light relief if you’re working through the Hacking Strategy. If none of these appeal to you, don’t worry. Sometimes motivation needs that deeper digging found in the Mojo Hacking Strategy if it’s to come back stronger. In which case, just look on these 16 as a bit of fun 🙂
So with no ado, here they are, my 16 bonus cycling motivation hacks:
- Adjust Your Cycling Outlook
- Cycling on Windy Days: Harness the Wind
- Cycling on Windy Days: Ride Zen
- Practice Mindful Cycling
- Try Data-less Cycling
- Set Tiny Cycling Goals
- Create Cycling Variety: Take a Different Ride Route
- Create More Cycling Variety: Ride a Different Way
- Combine Your Riding With Another Hobby or Interest
- Cycle TO Somewhere
- Plan a Cycling Vacation Near or Far
- Have a Cycling Mantra
- Watch Bike Documentaries, Read Bike Stories & Blogs
- Motivational Stickers & Stem Top-Caps?
- Develop a Minor Case of the GAS
- GAS aside! Make a Wise Purchase
1. Adjust Your Cycling Outlook
Oh man that sounds complicated doesn’t it. It’s fairly straightforward and commonsense.
While there are many causes of depleted motivation levels (discussed in the Hacking Strategy article), sometimes the easiest way to hack it is to look at it in a different light or from an alternate vantage point if you follow. It’s about re-framing our image or our plan for our rides.
For example, if we ride long it might help to plan a shorter ride, maybe a more intense ride to shake us up a bit, create new neural pathways, recruit other muscles and whatnot. If we usually take shorter hops, how about planning a longer ride to give us a greater sense of achievement?
If you avoid poor weather riding because it’s not something you’ve done, because you don’t like the discomfort, because you feel it’s more risky, that all makes sense for sure. But if that’s causing loss of motivation, how about planning to get some poor weather kit, and actively looking forward to the next rainy day where you get to try out your stuff. There are fewer people about, it’s just you and the elements. A hardcore rider for the day. It’s a different you, if you follow 🙂
I’m guessing being demotivated doesn’t mean you’re saying you don’t like riding at all, rather, you don’t like or aren’t motivated to ride the rides you have been doing. So grab your outlook with both hands and adjust it. Now you won’t be riding your normal rides, the ones that make your heart sink, that dampen your cycling joy. Ride different rides, be a different rider when you’re on your bike, re-frame the problem.
It doesn’t make it magically disappear. But it can give you sufficient food or thought that you can understand what’s going on with your having fallen out of love with the kind of riding you’ve been doing.
Q: How does this boost a lacking ride motivation? A: Because adjusting your outlook or re-framing is a simple technique that can temporarily allow you to see your issue from a different perspective. This can assist in clarifying exactly what’s causing the issue or what’s hampering your feelings of success, achievement and joy in your riding.
2. Cycling on Windy Days: Harness the Wind
Following on from #1 riding during a windy spell can be different faces of the one die. Headwinds can feel like a battle, sidewinds can feel like a test of bike handling skills and tailwinds can be the joy of speed. But planning around windy weather together with a little outlook adjustment can yield fun cycling results. And if it promises to be fun, it might assist motivation levels.
So rather than viewing windy weather as a day to sit indoors, it’s possible with a bit of planning and a change of mind to see windy weather as a training tool. I’ve labelled the point as riding with the wind. In other words, ride your outward leg of your route against the wind when you have most energy in reserve, and your homeward journey with it, roughly when you’re likely to be more tired.
But doing it the other way can be interesting too. What this forces you to do is to conserve energy and/or push hard on the return leg against the wind. This can mimic a push up and over the latter half of a hard climb 🙂
I find these to be great mental tasks as well as physical ones. It’s a simple change of mindset or outlook to simply calm my urges to curse a headwind that’s killing my usual speed, and instead focus on my climb technique. If I’m on the flat against the wind, I don’t aim for my average flat speed. I aim for my average hillclimb speed. And I use hillclimb tech, cadence and standing pedalling if necessary. It sounds facile maybe, but it’s a hill session without the need for hills.
The Renegade’s Route to take on windy days of course, is one that’s perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction. I like this motivation hack. If you’re up for it I think you might too. Because dealing with side winds is an absolute test of handling skill. You can practice your tuck, your flexibility and dexterity and preparedness for being hit by sudden side gusts. It fosters your awareness of other traffic and other riders, and forces you to keep your focus high just like on a set of rollers. It might seem like too much of an ask. And if it does, I can understand. But something to consider maybe 🙂
What I’m saying here is that the windy weather, rather than dampening your cycling ardour, can, if you use your head, be an awesome tool to help you improve rather than a day to avoid riding. It just takes a #1 outlook adjustment
Q: How does this boost a lacking ride motivation in poor weather? A: Because you don’t have to avoid windy days, rather, making the wind work for you can enhance your training and handling skills and give a frequently missing sense of achievement – something that’s a motivation killer if it’s not present!
3. Cycling on Windy Days: Ride Zen
Flip the previous hack! Huh? Yes, rather than treating strong winds like something to be battled or circumvented. It’s a bit more Zen this one. Maybe you ride in the wind and feel as if you’re having to do battle, having to compete to win against the wind. That can work, I grant you. There are training rewards to be had as outlined in #2. At the same time, battling through fall/winter weather can itself cause motivation to drop. It can feel like excessively hard work to not much apparent gain.
My hack for this is to have a try at calming your disposition when riding against harsh winds or wet. It’s to find calm, a kind of joy in simply being out riding your bike. The outlook adjustment here is that we’re not a rider looking for average speed improvements or maybe segment KOMs. Who we are is a rider looking to find freedom from the rest of the world for a bit, liberation and that joy we knew when we were kids without responsibilities.
Riding in wind or harsh weather is a perfect time to give this a try because our usual disposition is more often one of doing battle or winning against nature. And that makes sense. But if we feel ourselves doing that (and it’s playing havoc with our ride mojo) it’s the time to smile at the situation. Smile at the struggle instead and back off. Don’t stop. That’s not the point. Don’t allow the wind to beat you back. But feel its strength and hold no resentment towards it on your ride. Find the joy in experiencing the force of the wind against you while you just ride easily and steadily. Feel your muscles work. Be mindful. It’s Zen 🙂
Q: How does this boost a lacking ride motivation in poor weather? A: It means not only can you venture out in windy days, and possibly actively seek them out, but it’s the kind of outlook adjustment that can give you a completely different perspective on all your riding. Okay, I get it, that it sounds woo, but just try flipping it all around when you feel as if you’re doing battle with nature, just find the joy, go with the flow, be Zen and you never know what good comes from it. At the very least, you got a ride in when your motivation was low 🙂 #winwin
4. Practice Mindful Cycling
In some ways, this can be a supplement to #3 above. But it’s a technique all of its own. I have written some more information on mindful cycling if you’re interested. You might think it’s a bunch of woo. Okay I get where you’re coming from, but no harm I say in giving something a try. Specially if it helps break a cycling funk, right?
We might think of mindful cycling in the context of overcoming low motivation as riding in and for the moment. That’s distinct from planning how we’re going to attack a climb, it’s distinct from having aforethought about aspects of the ride that might otherwise deter us from cycling. It’s distinct from training in the conventional sense. It’s distinct from conventional goal-oriented riding. It is however a goal unto itself.
To cycle mindfully we’re simply being more consciously connected to the act of cycling itself in the present moment. We’re consciously less connected to anything outside of the ride. We can be mindful of what’s going on in our bodies as we push for sure. That’s one way to practice this idea. We can be aware of our muscles firing, the smoothness of our pedalling, our breathing rate, our temperature. But we can also shift that mindful attention to the ride outside of us: the air flowing around us, the sounds of the bike, the tires on the road, the click of the freewheel pawls, the rain maybe. It’s giving over complete attention to the ride and not to why we’re riding or what we’re trying to achieve.
It’s a very peaceful thing. It’s a kind of meditation all to itself. When thoughts wander to the route we’re taking or to how long the ride’s going to be, we can just gently direct our attention back to the pedaling, or to our breathing. Let thoughts of work life or the daily grind come and go without attachment. Focus on the ride alone. It’s peaceful 🙂 Or can be!
Q: How does this boost a lacking ride motivation? A: Riding like this can instate a sense of calm. That sense of calm is independent of external events such as nasty weather or life woes. As such, the ride itself can provide a greater sense of wellbeing than a ride for say building zone2 endurance etc. And! as a bonus, it can help give a better awareness of smooth pedalling or souplesse as it’s known. See? It’s not just a bunch of woo! 😀
5. Try Data-less Cycling
In a lot of ways this is almost implied in #3&4. I find riding without data is one of those liberating (I’m aware I use that word frequently) experiences in cycling. I enjoy that unshackling feeling. Maybe that reflects my feelings towards ride tech lol. But I believe those of us who track our data on rides can be prone to becoming submerged by it. I think data tracking is a great way to measure improvements and to monitor progress towards goals. I think there’s no harm though in trying to go data-free at least once in a while.
The whole point of this isn’t some Luddite reaction to ride tech, nope. It’s a call to you if you’re cycling motivation is depleted to reconnect to your cycling joy. I think the biggest motivator in any endeavour is joy. If you get that sense of happiness from it – moreso even than a sense of success or achievement which are both important – it can really bolster your motivation in a big way. I’m an unashamed advocate of joyful cycling. I mean if the joy of cycling underpins all of our rides, even the hard ones, surely we can’t go too far wrong?
Plus, it costs nothing to give it a try! 🙂
Q: How does this boost low motivation levels? A: Could you be in some ways a slave to the computer? Maybe that’s an extreme representation of your ride, but if painstakingly following your stats isn’t yielding the results or improvements you’re after or at the rate you’d hope, it can be demoralizing. I’m not suggesting we ditch our tech. I’m suggesting we occasionally give them a rest. That we become a little more mindful of our ride. That we find our cycling joy. This is one way to help reconnect to that.
6. Set Tiny Cycling Goals
In my Cycling Mojo Hacking Strategy article, I’ve already expounded on wise and necessary goal setting for stabilizing your motivation. But here in particular I’d make a call to you to set some tiny goals. Why tiny? Because tiny goals can be absolutely, one-hundred percent guaranteed success for you. And success breeds success, sets you up in a virtuous cycle and boosts your motivation
Take, for example, the task of a three-hour ride, intervals included in a side wind no matter which direction you travel. If your motivation for cycling is diminished, that could be an arduous task to contemplate. Compare that to a completely free ride wherever you want to go, however far or near or for however long or short, and however you want to do it and back home. Easier to consider, right?
I’ve noticed too that the more my motivation wanes, the tinier my goal must be. I’m sure that makes sense. If your motivation has gone and you’ve stopped cycling then your goal might be to just get out on the bike to the end of the street and back. While that might sound trivial, if you’re cycling va-va-voom has va-va-vanished, any thoughts of riding can be a difficult task. Hence the tiny goal. It’s do-able. You can do it. When you do it, you have to congratulate yourself for setting the goal and achieving it. If you’re going to do it then belittle it, set a goal one step less tiny so you don’t feel you’re cheating yourself into succeeding.
This slots nicely into the idea of little and often. But for now, we’ll let the “often” worry about itself. We’re tackling one little ride on its own and we can cross the next bridge after we’ve done this one 🙂
Q: How does this boost waning cycling motivation? A: A goal that’s tiny enough for your current mindset is easily accomplished. This generates success from the get-go. Success causes dopamine release. Dopamine, being the “seeking” hormone urges us to find that feeling again. And so success, breeds success, which, by its very nature is a boost to motivation when it comes to doing that thing which gave us that success: in this case cycling again.
7. Create Cycling Variety: Take a Different Ride Route
Ride boredom can be one of the causes of loss of our enthusiasm for cycling. So it stands to sense doesn’t it, that reducing that boredom can reignite our enthusiasm. One way to do that is to get ourselves out of our regular ride routines. One of those routines we have might be our routes. It would seem to make sense then to alter the route. Depending on your individual sensibilities, either you can plan an alternate route that you haven’t been on, or you can totally wing it. Again one of those ideas will likely suit you more than the other 🙂 Me, I’m a planner, though that could be simply my not-good-enough self-belief manifesting itself as perfectionism through planning haha #toomuchinformation 😀
If you’re limited by your home location maybe, and your regular ride route is a loop you can always try riding that route in the reverse direction.
I might wonder additionally that rather than going full gas along a new unfamiliar route whose surprise steep hills and pot-holed asphalt we’re not used to, might it be an idea to look on the first rides there as “reconnaissance” rides? I mean, that way we can not only take performance pressure off ourselves while we’re trying to re-establish our enthusiasm, but we can also combine this with #4 mindful cycling, focusing on the environs, the surface and the terrain, the sights, sounds, smells. There might be some synergy between #4 & #7 who knows. But either way, in riding a new and different route we’re creating new neural pathways in the ol’ brainhole by adding these new experiences. And that’s a good thing for all of us, but especially those of us 50+ 🙂
Q: How does this boost our lacking cycling motivation? A: Riding new routes in truth, won’t always yield huge motivational gains. But if we can look on what we’re doing here, specially if we combine this with other hacks is to assisting ourselves to modify #1 our cycling outlook. These hacks therefore, can provide just enough of a different view on our riding that something clicks in our understanding of where our motivation went, what changed, what’s different from before, and what needs to change to reinstate that former enthusiasm.
But at the very least, new routes are part of a continuous learning idea that all works to the good of maintaining and promoting full mental function 🙂
8. Create More Cycling Variety: Ride a Different Way
Following the same outlook-adjusting rationale of #7 above, we can add variety by simply riding differently from the way we are doing or were doing that’s resulted in our ride enthusiasm dipping. It may be about mixing things up a little in your riding. Or it may be about complete changes, just whatever it takes to get you back riding again.
What kind of riding you mix in, or change to, depends on what you were doing before. If you’re a seasoned road rider, had you thought of cyclo-cross or MTB? With the trend at the minute for gravel and adventure bikes, it’s an easy way into venturing away from the asphalt. And vice versa of course for off-roaders!
Maybe you can add in some fixed-gear riding or think of getting a cheap singlespeed road bike for fun? That’s what I’ve been up to at the time of writing. How about building up a vintage bike? Or could you try flat pedals instead of clip-ins, or vice versa? Why? Because the body improves best when we vary our forms of exercise. We urge it to adapt. That’s all this is. By doing that, we notice improvements, that gives us a feeling of achievement and it’s those ideas that generate and sustain ride motivation.
If you usually ride in a group, try a solo ride. Ride in a faster group or slower group if you belong in a club. Just to experience the difference and allow yourself more variety. Perhaps you might find a ride buddy if you usually ride solitary. Encourage a partner or friend to take up cycling with you. Go cycling as a way to encourage your teen to open up if you’re a parent. Ride a tandem maybe. The sky’s the limit 🙂
It’s not meant to be a panacea for some ill, nor a magic bullet to immediately reinstate childhood joys of cycling. It’s about adding some spice, learning a new way of doing things. I think trying new stuff, or a different way to do old stuff if you prefer, is a great way of introducing excitement. And that engenders enthusiasm for what we’re doing.
Q: How does this hack boost cycling motivation? A: Riding differently causes us to think differently, hopefully giving us an opportunity to evaluate our riding differently. That can often lead to removal of blocks in our understanding of our lacking enthusiasm. With that assisted comprehension we can more easily figure what action we need to take to sustain that cycling mojo into the future.
9. Combine Your Riding With Another Hobby or Interest
What this hack essentially aims to do is to give another, or an additional purpose to your riding. It takes the focus away from the riding itself – for which your motivation is diminished – and allows you to ride just to fulfil another purpose.
While naturally not all hobbies and interests have a point of intersection with your cycling, some might. I’m thinking of photography since it’s one of my own interests. While you can ride somewhere to take photos, how could you combine riding with photography? Could you create a photo project about some aspect of cycling? Could you also figure how to shoot while riding perhaps? If you take your riding out of a riding-for-riding’s-sake box, it could potentially turn into something else. Again, what we’re aiming to do here is to simply find ways of reinstating your interest in cycling.
Other creative interests can be likewise served by cycling, either the ride can be a clearer headspace in which to find and focus on creative inspiration, or the cycling itself can be the focus of that creative inspiration, sights, sounds, deeper meanings and connotations. You’ll know best being the writer, musician, visual or performing artist!
But what if your hobby or interest is apparently incompatible with your cycling? I guess some just aren’t. Maybe some others aren’t immediately, but can be. For example, maybe you also play football. Football (no matter what kind of football we’re talking about) would seem to allow for no good combination with a bike ride. True. But if we can apply a little #1 outlook adjustment and think of how the riding might somehow help with the football it might open a few avenues to explore. Say we figure we can work a ride in a high gear for some calf-strengthening. Okay, I’m shooting from the hip here, but that would take the onus off of you having to enjoy the ride in and of itself, and makes the ride a part of training for your football (assuming you’re motivated to train for football that is!) If football is something you’re motivated for, attaching cycling to that endeavour can create motivation by association.
Q: How does this boost a waning cycling motivation? A: Not so much a question of directly boosting motivation. It’s more about I guess you could say leeching off motivation from another activity we’re enthusiastic about by combining it with our cycling. But there’s also the recurring idea of using this hack as a way of reconsidering our cycling, as a way of adjusting our former cycling outlook.
10. Cycle TO Somewhere
We’re using the same rationale here as in #9 above. Cycling to somewhere – or perhaps to someone – is a re-framing of the cycling motivation issue. I’m sure it could be argued that it’s kind of a circumvention, but hey, it all counts if the end result is that your cycling enthusiasm is renewed by it, right?
Here, just as in #9, the cycling isn’t the thing. It’s the means to the thing. If you’re motivated to go any place or to visit anyone, had you thought of cycling there instead of your usual mode of transport? Maybe wherever you might have in mind seems too far away to cycle, too close and not worth riding when walking would suffice, has no facilities to get cleaned off maybe. But you know all of these things are artificial obstacles that we can all put in front of us to justify our inaction when our motivation is lacking for a task. That’s fair enough. I understand that. But with sufficient planning, the “I can’t” isn’t really an argument where I can’t be bothered is the truth.
All this is, is a little innocuous hack that turns a journey for some purpose into an excuse to cycle. If motivation is low, it’s okay to rely on excuses or circumvention. Enjoying our cycling is where we want to be. And if leveraging the necessity to make a trip to visit someone or go somewhere is what it takes to get us back in the saddle then good. All it needs is a little #1 change in outlook. I’m not going for a ride, I’m taking a trip to <insert person or place>. By bike just happens to be the means I’m using.
This isn’t meant to generate huge enthusiasm for cycling. This hack is another tool designed to allow you to set some space between you and cycling as a thing in the hope that the your thinking about your riding clears and reveals why the motivation downturn. But also inferred in this simple hack is that the very act of just riding will remind you of a cycling joy you’ve temporarily forgotten.
Q: How does this boost low motivation for cycling? A: As stated, it’s a means to that motivation. It’s a hack that leverages the necessity of making a trip to free your cycling mind, to set it in a different context where cycling isn’t done for it’s own sake or for training or maybe even for commuting. This is cycling to somewhere you want to be or to someone you want to be with. It’s motivation by association 🙂
11. Plan a Cycling Vacation Near or Far
When you peel back the label on this hack you can see underneath it’s about constructing conducive cycling images in your mind’s eye. Why? Because as we’ve seen, we can leverage whatever we’re enthusiastic about in order to promote enthusiasm again for cycling by associating our cycling with it. In this case it’s directly related to our riding, but again, in common with several hacks above, we’re setting our cycling in a different context. And while a cycling trip is a temporary change of routine and context, it is a change nonetheless. It’s a change that can be sufficient to re-inspire us about our cycling or at least encourage us that our joy of cycling is still resident within us all.
A cycling holiday can be a major undertaking. And that’s a good thing. Because we can immerse ourselves in the mental images of us enjoying cycling far from the norm which can, in turn, grow enthusiasm for cycling per se. All the while, we’re setting ourselves and our riding in an alternative context as in hack#1. And that can free our thinking which can allow us to get to the crux of why we’ve lost motivation.
The trip doesn’t need to be a major undertaking. It can also be a minor adventure, but an adventure nevertheless. It’s about fostering the thrill of doing something on the bike, creating the mental images of you doing it and enjoying it in ways you possibly don’t currently enjoy your riding.
But, here’s the interesting thing, peculiarly, in order for this hack to work, we don’t actually have to take the trip at all! The trip is the end phase of all the envisioning, of the choosing a destination or working out an adventurous route, of the research into getting equipped and getting used to working the equipment, of the training perhaps. The actual trip is merely the culmination of all of those things. But it’s those very aspects that are what encourages our enthusiasm. That’s not to say the trip isn’t an incredible reward and a motivating factor in itself, but remember, the trip is fleeting in the grand scheme of things so it’s best not to rely on that entirely. This is about enjoying the journey as much, if not more so than the destination. I know that doesn’t suit everyone’s disposition, but it’s all food for thought 🙂
Q: How does this help boost ride motivation? A: Planning a cycling trip could, in a negative way, be seen as mere distraction. But distraction is permissible where it creates thinking space to solve our problem (the lack of motivation). Likewise, to plan a trip without taking a trip could be viewed as mental games at best and mental trickery at worst. But that’s the nature of hacks. They’re back doors. Here, we’ve specified our problem: lacking ride motivation, and we’ve proposed a solution which allows our cycling mind free travel. What this does is to create space to think differently because if our thinking patterns are always the same, how would we ever figure why our motivation had dissipated? And if you do take a cycling trip, send me a postcard! 🙂
12. Have a Cycling Mantra
This hack applies if you’re still riding and haven’t become so demoralized as to cease riding. Some of the other hacks will work better in that case.
So a mantra is a concept taken from yogic practices where it’s a repeated sound used in meditative ritual. In common parlance we mean a repeated motivating phrase. The thing is, if the phrase is trite or the words don’t resonate with you personally, you may as well shout yeehaw into the wind as you ride 😀 So the key in this instance has to be a well-chosen phrase. Now that’ll be different for everyone. We all get demotivated for different reasons so it follows there isn’t one mantra for all. But it should be something that invokes enthusiasm for cycling in you, words that encourage you, wise advice someone once gave you, an epic line from a book or a movie, a song lyric that you know was written for you. Whatever it is, you gotta feel it for it to have any worth 🙂
However, if you of a metaphysical inclination, it’d be entirely feasible to create your own word, a neologism as it were, or even a sound had you the mind for it. Crucially here though, the new word or sound would have to be imbued with meaning. It would have to encapsulate a motivated, riding you whatever form that version of you might take. So that if that motivated version of you is a hard-pushing determined you, or a joyous-to-be-cycling-solo you, the mantra, the new sound or word would be immediately associated and conjure in your mind’s eye, a picture of that version of you. We’re kind of using the mantra to call forth that motivated, hard-pushing you or that joyous you.
Your mantra can be as esoteric or as plain-speaking as suits you. Personally I’d suggest those that explicitly encourage or invoke the image of the enthusiastically cycling version of you. I’d avoid those that are more stick than carrot, you know the kind: shut up and stop whining; it’s only pain; don’t be such a pussy. Why? Because while beating the ol’ donkey can get it to move along, it can foster a spirit of resentment, or worse, of unnecessarily or unrealistically harsh self-criticism that ultimately doesn’t serve our purposes here and can suppress a demotivated spirit even further. That’s not where we want to be 🙂 Keep it self-encouraging.
The mantra can go all the way into meditative riding when used in conjunction with hack#4 mindful cycling. I’ve outlined in another article, the process of understanding cycling itself as a meditative practice (as opposed to a route into it) that many of us engage in without even knowing or calling it that. A meditative state happens anyway by virtue of the repetitive nature of cycling for extended periods in certain power and effort zones. Our motivating mantra can be used as an assist to find that meditative space more quickly even on flat rides.
Q: How does this help create motivation for cycling? A: This one doesn’t create motivation so much as helps to sustain or uplift a dwindling one. You have to be cycling for it to work after all. But it works not by creating another state of mind, but by making you aware of the different state of mind you’ll already create whenever you ride, but sometimes ride oblivious to it. This mantra, and mindful cycling as well, can put you in a calm state even when riding under exertion. That can be a highly enlightening experience, and not in some esoteric way either. It can confer upon us a conscious sense of wellbeing after a ride that can motivate and encourage us to continue when going’s hard, or even to step out of into a completely separate space almost isolated from the hard work our body is currently doing. It only sounds woo until you do! 😀
13. Watch bike Documentaries, Read Bike Stories & Blogs
I’m not talking so much about the plethora of bike vids on Youtube that most of us know how to spend hours surfing through. Hours, after which we’ve come out with nothing but useless bike trivia 😮 I’m thinking here instead of the inspiring vids, that you can’t help but watch and think, “I’d like to get out and ride.” One of my old favourites is the Inspired Bicycles Danny MacAskill vid from 2009 or Martyn Ashton’s Road Bike Party. I mean I don’t (can’t) ride like that. But it’s about being inspired. It’s about reading a piece online or grabbing an inspiring cycling bio or autobio. Maybe reading about something different from your normal riding type following the same rationale as the hacks above, or perhaps watching something with great skill or deep meaning or just really well shot like the artistically done “It Ain’t About Cav” docu. Whatever it is, just to get you in that mood, in that zone where you feel like getting the bike out again.
It’s not a complicated hack this. You probably already do it. But maybe not with intent. It’s not so much surfing as going looking for inspiration. If you do it with that specific intent of generating a sufficient head of motivating steam to get your cycling engine going again then that’s better than mindlessly surfing new bike tech vids. Not that there’s anything wrong with mindless surfing, just that again it doesn’t fit so well with hacking our motivation 🙂
If you’re minded to think more of what’s happening, we can even use this hack to locate the source of our lacking motivation by examining the kinds of things we’ve found motivating to read and watch. For example, the trials-riding vids I mentioned above. I find when I dig into my thinking, that why I like those stems from riding BMX as a kid. Those vids take me back to a time when riding was joyous. It wasn’t done for anything else other than fun. If it wasn’t fun we didn’t do it. That’s why I find these vids motivating. What it means ultimately is that my riding, were it to become less fun, would result in me losing motivation. That’s why one of my main goals is to follow the fun in cycling 🙂 I’m sure you get where I’m coming from even if your own motivation/de-motivation cues differ.
Q: How does this boost cycling motivation? A: We’re trying here to artificially create motivation, not for its own sake but to kickstart our own innate motivation. In much the same way as hack#11, in this hack we install a mental image of ourselves either doing the cycling we read or see, or we picture something similar. Either way, we picture ourselves in that joyful, motivated cycling state. Which is the exact self-image we need to have captured if we’re to feel sufficiently encouraged to clip in and ride 🙂
14. Motivational Stickers & Stem Top-Caps?
This is more of a supplemental to hack#12 above, but I’ve just thought of it so it’s here lol 😀 Motivational stickers, you know the ones that you stick on your top tube or that are printed or etched on your stem topcap. They’re the ones with the slogans, you know, “Ride hard or go home” or “Shut up legs” 😮 While they don’t quite have the power of hacks#12
, they utilize the same principles.
And if they work for you, that’s all that matters. As with mantras and motivational blogs and vids, they can be a succinct and snappy spur to encourage you on if your motivation is dropping. But only by a little like halfway up a climb. That little. I doubt a store-bought sticker would have the same resonance or impact upon us as a mantra of our own choosing. But if you have a mantra, what a great idea to get it printed on a sticker or your stem’s top cap. I like that idea best!
By the same token as the above, I’d have to caution on the “stop being a pussy” kind of slogans. Again, you might question why, when it’s just harmless goading. I don’t know, would you question my admonition against those? Maybe not 🙂 But it’s just that most of us at some point have a critical inner voice. And it’s a voice that doesn’t always provide evidence-based criticism but rather is borne of not-good-enough self-beliefs or smell a little too strongly of critical upbringings! Too much stick and not enough carrot to work on building motivation over the long term. I’m sure that makes sense. Stick with the encouraging sentiments rather than the acerbic toned ones.
Q: How does this help boost low cycling motivation? A: In the same way as a mantra works, a well-chosen phrase (or mantra!) displayed in this way on the bike can just make up any shortfall in motivation. It’s a low-level hack. Reserved for when motivation dips rather than for reinstating a dissolved enthusiasm. A useful tool to have nonetheless.
15. Develop a Minor Case of the GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)
I’ve kept this to last since for me it’s my least favored hack. Not because it’s the one I least like doing, quite the opposite! But because I know for me it’s a temporary fix. It addresses a symptom of lacking cycling motivation not its cause. And that’s not where I’m at!
Nevertheless, there isn’t a thing wrong with a little purchasing indulgence even if it is mere instant gratification. Now, if it’s a reward for achieving some of the goals you set as part of Hacking your Cycling Mojo, then I’d be a hundred percent approving! Successes deserve rewards. And if that’s treating yourself to a new component, piece of clothing, or new bike, hey, you go for it if the goal achievement merits it.
So minor cases being fine, what would constitute a bad case of the GAS? I’d see a bad case as embodying the notion we all sometimes get that a new piece of kit or a new bike will -ignoring all prior evidence to the contrary – somehow fix our motivation problem. And while, as described above, if it’s a treat or a reward, that’s perfect. But if we imagine it as some miraculous fix, well I’d be advocating instead for taking a read at my Hacking Strategy instead, or at least first, before purchasing more items as the mojo fixer. At best, Gear Acquisition Syndrome is a temporary fix for lost mojo. Which is why it becomes an issue, a habit, or an addiction. It couldn’t more obviously suggest that your problem lies not in your lack of cycling equipment but elsewhere. And that’s what my Cycling Mojo Hacking Strategy aims to uncover 🙂
Q: How does this assist in boosting low motivation? A: Everybody responds well to treats. The key to success here is to see this for what it is: a temporary fix not a permanent solution. Do that and it’s all good!
16. GAS aside! Make a Wise Purchase
Yep, if you’re gonna get the Gas, I’d recommend a set of training rollers if you haven’t already. Let’s face it, if icy weather isn’t enough to stifle our biking enthusiasm, indoor training certainly is! Frankly I find it boring as… 😮
A set of training rollers requires your undivided focus. Specially when learning. You can do a short session and it feels like more because it’s not only taken up your physical energy, but also your mental. It’s a new skill to learn too – remember those neural pathways we discussed in hack#1? Doing this gets those. And that’s good! Riding rollers doesn’t take long to acquire, but I’m all for learning new stuff and keeping those neural impulses firing across those little synapses 🙂
But once we’ve acquired that skill, riding rollers, just like a mantra, can provide exactly the kind of distant yet immediate focus that constitutes that cycling meditative state from hack#4 & #12. So it’s a great way to combine a new skill with a calming, centering yet altered state of mind.
Q: How does this help bring back flagging cycling motivation? A: Because it not only fosters learning but utilizing the rollers to achieve a conscious meditative state is simple. This state is well shown to reduce cortisol levels and release DHEA and GABA that have calming therapeutic effects. It’s these physical rewards that encourage us to cycle and help to regrow our motivation.
Well that’s all folks. For now! I sincerely hope something in all of that has been useful. I found it both encouraging and useful myself going through some of the techniques I’ve used and that I continue to use at different times. If you get something from this that helps you get back your cycling mojo then I’m happy too! Let me know how you go. Meantime, good luck finding your riding joy again. I’m with you! Ride safe, David.