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Vienna Pedaler: Setting Cycling Goals For The New Year

Tips for working more biking into 2012

Happy New Year!

I’m not one to take on a bunch of New Year’s resolutions, but the start of a year is a good time to assess and make plans. What sort of goals can we set for the year, cycling-wise?

Well, many of us, all manner of riders with all levels of experience, start with the simple goal to “ride more."  Okay, that’s a good goal. But what exactly does that mean? How do you manage to achieve it?

If you’re an experienced cyclist, the kind of person who has all the gear, all the clothes, and tracks your mileage on a cyclecomputer or GPS system, there’s probably not a lot of advice I can offer you. You probably have your own tips, tricks and plans on how to raise your annual mileage. But maybe a few of my ideas will resonate with you.

Now, for the more moderate cyclist, those of us who get out semi-regularly for longish rides, or even the neophyte, there’s a few simple ways to get more riding done.

The simplest is to resolve (there’s that word!) to run at least one more errand a week by bike rather than by car. Think about it ... what weekly tasks do you take care of that have you driving five miles or less? Unless it’s something that involves a heavy load, live animals, or hauling kids, you should think about ways to do it by bike. You’ll be amazed how fast the milage piles up when you do that.

If that doesn’t work for you, how about adding a short recreational ride to your day? Maybe a half hour jaunt in the morning before work, with a treat at the end ... a hot cup of coffee and a scone at your favorite morning eatery, perhaps. Or perhaps a ride after work, a simple ramble around your neighborhood before (or after) dinner, or a quick “out and back” on the W&OD. It doesn’t have to be a major expedition to do your body and soul good ... a simple half hour ride is all it takes. Heck, depending on your work situation, you might even be able to squeeze in a lunchtime ride, if you can have a bike handy midday.

Now, many of you might be saying “yeah, when spring comes I’ll get around to that.” Well, given the winter we’ve had so far, and the remarkably mild temperatures, there’s really no excuse to not get out and ride. Sure, the mornings are a bit chilly, but it’s a good way to wake up, or you can ride later in the day. Just make sure you have lights and high visibility clothing with reflective material, as daylight hours are short now.

One final option for those that just can’t bear to drag their bikes outside in even a mild winter is to try some form of indoor cycling training. I’m not a big fan of such things, but there are a few options open to you there. If you’re likely to use it a lot, there are stationary bikes you can buy to use in the home, but there are also gadgets called “trainers” that allow you to convert your bike to an exercise bike. Of course, you can also go to a gym and use their equipment, or even take part in a “spinning” class with a coach, who directs you through a very vigorous workout.

For me, nothing matches the sheer fun of being outside on my bike, so I stick to the road and trails. And as I’ve said before, even a more severe winter doesn’t really keep me off my bike. But even if you’re not so inclined, you can still get in a few more miles before spring comes, either indoors or out. Either way, try to spin those pedals at least a few times this winter.

The start of a new yea also marks a little over a year since my first column here at the Patch. I’d love to hear some feedback from readers... what columns have you liked? What could you have lived without? What would you like to see more of in the year ahead? Please let me know in the comments

Mark Blacknell January 11, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Congrats on the year. (I think every trainer should be labeled with a warning: "Use for more than 45 minutes may cause damage to your soul." :) )

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