Back in the Saddle: Tips and Tricks for Getting Back into Cycling after a Break
Have you been away from your cycling game for a while? And somehow feel overwhelmed about how to get back in the saddle?
Starting a biking journey is easy, and the same goes for getting out of the habit. But coming back after a hiatus is where the tricky part comes. It requires careful consideration to maximise your efficiency. The process also becomes much easier when you have a plan with achievable goals.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you stay motivated, enjoy more bike rides, and become proficient in no time!
Getting Back to Your Leisurely Pace
Returning to fun cycling after a long break requires time. Time to rebuild your riding fitness and strength. The good news is that you’re not starting from scratch.
You may regain your fitness faster than someone who’s never been on a bike before. This is because your muscles keep their adaptations to cycle training. But you’ll still need to be cautious with increasing your cycling workload to avoid injury.
Your ‘return to cycling’ routine will also depend on three things:
- Goals. Thinking of riding your bike three times a week? Or do you have a specific goal set in mind?
- Schedule. How much time do you have to tackle your goal?
- What’s working and what’s not? If you get injured easily, you may have to adjust your workload.
Follow the rest of these tips to bounce back from hard rides even stronger and faster:
Tip #1: Establish clear, simple goals
Setting a clear goal gives you something to work toward. Write one or a few somewhere visible, so you won’t lose sight of the whys you want to get back on the road.
Your list of goals may look like these, but of course, you know best what works for you:
- Short 20-minute easy rides two to three times a week
- Pick cycling back up to lose weight and get back in shape every weekend
- Get out of the house more often by taking a 15-minute ride at least four times a week
- Cycle to work every other day
Tip #2: Start with smaller rides
(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
It may seem overwhelming when thinking about taking on bigger rides. But take your time and start slowly. Schedule smaller rides between your other goals so that you can pace yourself.
It may take plenty of time to start feeling your old self, though, but keep at it. (Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day!) Eventually, you’ll become comfortable with it again. Then, you may set long-term goals to stay motivated.
For instance, adding distance each month or taking part in local races. These are fantastic ways to keep your ambition alive. At the same time, while slowly easing yourself into longer distances.
Tip #3: Hop on the right bike
When coming back to cycling, you may find your old bike as your redemption companion. But make sure it still works; otherwise, you need a new one. As long as the bicycle itself is in serviceable condition, either is acceptable.
If you plan to maximise the use of your current one, take it to a bike shop and have it serviced. Ensure it’s tuned up after time off to enjoy smooth rides.
To give you more bits of push, invest in a new bike helmet and cycling clothes. It’s time to upgrade and wear that sweat-wicking and breathable bike fit Helmets, of course, are always a must for safety.
Tip #4: Find riding companions
Finding cycling buddies can be key in building up the motivation to cycle again. Having someone as moral support (or even as competition) can spruce up the experience.
Reach out to fellow cyclists through local cycling clubs or forums. This will help you to meet new friends who share your passion. Joining a group ride, such as during cycling holidays, also helps. You’ll reacquaint yourself with vital group riding skills. A major bonus if you want to further your expertise!
The best way to find a group ride near you are as follows:
- Through your local bike shop. They may have the inside scoop on the best group rides for your experience level.
- Your country’s national governing body for cycling, such as British Cycling.
Tip #5: Keep track of your accomplishments
To tell you the truth, it’s not going to be easy returning to cycling, especially when it no longer gives the same spark. At first. The same goes for working out consistently, stopping for months, and trying to get back at it again.
But then again, take your time. Consider listing your wins, whether small or big, to keep track of all the things you’ve done well so far.
Set a minute or two at the end of your cycling training to note one good thing about it. Anytime you think you’re not making any progress, flip through your ‘wins journal’. With time, if you keep at it, your cycling fitness will return.
Also, make sure to reward yourself for increasing motivation! You can go out for pizza (with veggies) on the weekend if you go for a ride every morning. Or just about any other stress-relieving item or activity you can imagine.
Tip #6: Know your cycle route
Your old bike route, say, a year ago, may not be the same. There could be a new building jammed up the roads with traffic. Or a once beloved trail could have been deforested.
Before your cycle training, check out some potential routes. Write down where you start and end, how long the route is, and how often you’d like to ride that path.
Choose a route that works best for whatever time of day you’re going back in the saddle.
Tip #7: Get back in shape
Part of any physical activity is getting into the proper shape to perform well. This involves a combination of regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Pedalling alone does a fantastic low-impact exercise. Make sure you stretch every day to prepare your muscles for the road. Push-ups and some light weightlifting are also great for reconditioning your muscles.
When it comes to the food you consume, eat lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables. Fuel your body with high-quality foods like chicken, fish, and beans for protein. Healthy greens like veggies and fruits can fill up your fibre requirements.
Tip #8: Invest in equipment and gadgets
To encourage further enthusiasm towards biking post-break, invest in more accessories. Gearing up with newer styles of bikes and/or apparel comes with its own confidence boost. You certainly will feel ready to tackle any terrain out there!
This may also be part of your reward list, where you spoil yourself with a new item every big win.
More tips for you:
- Cool down. Take a few minutes to cool down after a hard ride, at least 10 minutes after each ride. Doing so will help your body return to its pre-exercise state.
- Elevate your legs. If you’ve done a hard training ride, lie down with your legs against a wall. This trick helps drain fluids that may be pooling in the legs. It also reduces swelling while stretching your hamstrings - all helping with recovery.
- Keep hydrated. Dehydration can delay the recovery process. It makes it harder for your heart to pump blood and oxygen around your body. So, drink up and stay hydrated as best as you can.
- Try compression clothing. This type of clothing can help increase blood flow and reduce swelling. If you experience post-exercise/bike soreness, this may solve your problem.
- Get some quality sleep. Training feels like much harder work if you lack sleep. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night or sneak in a 30-minute power nap. This also gives your mind time to rest and recover.
It can be demoralising to realise that you can’t do what you used to. It may also take time to ramp. When slowly getting back into it, don’t place unrealistic goals on yourself. You need to be patient with yourself and opt for consistency over intensity.Look for ways to motivate yourself to start cycling training again. You can do this by rewarding yourself and listing what you love about cycling. Above all, pair patience with daily exercise and a healthy diet and these tips. You’ll be back in shape in no time, that’s for sure!