I’m back from a joyous holiday break shared with family and friends and I’m feeling super-energized about the new year. The flip of the calendar lays open a range of possibilities to change things up, embrace new challenges and give voice to passions.
The question, dear bicycle-loving readers: Where will cycling take you this year? Fortunately, these resolutions don’t have to bear the stroke-of-midnight burden of, say, altering your diet (out with that junk food!) or reducing spending (scissor up that credit card!) They can unspool more gently. But there’s merit in taking stock right now, while resolve is fresh and hopes remain high. With a little planning and foresight, this could be your best year of biking ever. Here are a few thought-starters:
Leverage two wheels: Riding a bicycle can help you achieve success in other goals. For example, if you’re seeking to shed a few pounds — and who isn’t right now — combine a cut in calories with a boost in bicycling. If stress reduction is part of your ’14 plan, add a morning ride to your routine to help get those endorphins flowing.
Go to the next level: Are you ready to kick cycling up a notch? Then set one or more goals that challenge you. Whether that means the finish line of a race, a fund-raising mark in a charity ride or your first bridge crossing on a commute, nothing beats the high (and bragging rights) of achievement through persistence. Sometimes victory is its own reward, but treating yourself to something special can be a powerful motivator as well, as some of the cyclists in this inspiring weigh-loss story reveal.
Make a plan: To keep fitness resolutions on track, experts recommend laying out a concrete plan with a definitive horizon. For example, if you’re set on completing your first century ride this spring, make a commitment right now by signing on the dotted line of an entry form. Then adopt a weekly training program that will gradually build the strength and endurance you’ll need to succeed. Other proven strategies for success: Enlist a friend to join you, and also put your goals and milestones out there on your social media. Friends and family can help keep you going.
Find community: Cycling is social, and opportunities abound for every interest, from monthly midnight spins through city parks to weekend training rides with a local bicycle club to daily group commutes. Check event listings such as bikenyc.org and the Velojoy NYC Toolbox for additional suggestions on finding ride that are right for you.
Inspire someone: According to the Women on a Roll report published last year by the Women Bike campaign of the League of American Bicyclists, 42 percent of American women say “people to bike with” would encourage them to ride more. The growing popularity of city cycling, as well as bike share programs, increase awareness and interest. Encourage “bike curious” family members, including your children, and friends to experience everything you enjoy about pedaling a bicycle by taking a spin with them.
Share the love: And don’t forget virtual inspiration. Broadcast your passion for riding a bike via your social media networks. Selfies on Instagram, photos of your cycling adventures and travels on Facebook, stylish gear acquisitions on Pinterest, (limited) humble brag on Twitter.
Speak up: Even as cities around the country improve infrastructure and transportation cycling continues to gain popularity, we can’t take anything for granted. Public thoroughfares in urban areas are finite resources shared among many users, and the calculus can shift with the political winds. It’s easier than you think to signal your support for bike lanes, the expansion of bike share, and street safety measures like speed cameras and neighborhood slow zones. You can get started right now by joining your local advocacy organization, Transportation Alternatives in NYC, to keep informed and help influence the issues that affect your daily ride.
Learn something new: Self-sufficiency is sexy and empowering. Knowing how to take care of your bike enhances the delicious feeling of independence at the core of cycling. Make this the year you buy a bike pump and check the sidewalls of your tires for the proper inflation level. Learn how to fix a flat tire from a friend, an online video or a bike repair workshop, and practice before you need to put your new skill to the test. Just for fun (and to quote smart tidbits at cocktail parties) read a book about cycling culture and history like Rob Penn’s wonderful It’s All About the Bike.
Be courteous: Stop at that white line outside the crosswalk and smile. Pedestrians, though sometimes momentarily confused by this, tend to respond favorably. Signal your turns and other moves. Motorists and cyclists can usually get along better when each can discern what’s happening next. The point is, we all have to share the roads – communicating, obeying the law and showing good manners are not only the right things to do, but also help make the streets safer and more liveable for everybody.
Just ride: It’s hard sometimes to think about sliding onto the saddle and turning the cranks for a morning commute when the weather is cold or hot, or you’re dead tired and staring down a long workout on the weekend. But once you get rolling, it’s almost unfailingly worth the effort. Because pedaling a bicycle makes you feel great – and isn’t that the perfect note on which to start a new year?
What are your cycling resolutions for the new year?