Updated: Sep 8, 2018
What's that “THING” that motivates you to get up early mornings to take a trip on your mountain bike when you'd rather just stay in bed? I call that THING your "mental peddle".
It is different for every rider:
Connecting with likeminded people
Just for fun
I can think of many more reasons why people ride mountain bikes. What is your reasons?
No matter your reason at some stage your mind wil look for reasons why not to ride or try something new. It might be too cold, too far or "I'll do it next time".
Over time it may become more challenging to find your mental peddle and motivation to ride.
For me watching a mountain bikepacking clip, trying out new bike gear or even upping my fitness are some of the reasons why I ride. Sometimes I ride just to clear my head after a hard day's work.
A great motivator is to join different groups riding different routes. Riding the same route every weekend dulls the senses and becomes routine. Having more than one route to choose from with different people keeps things interesting and colorful.
If you know what your mental peddles are you can easier motivate yourself and counter those built in objections preventing you from starting new adventures to unknown destinations. Find your motivations, write them down and next time you feel like not riding just do one of the things on your list to peddle your mind into action.
I am always glad that I did go and ride versus that “I should have gone” feeling after not riding.
These mental peddles also inspire to try new things, ride longer and try something that you might not have thought you can do. How many times have you seen a video or article then said, that's crazy or I’d love to do that!?
I dare you to find your mental peddles and make the unexplored your next adventure.
Long distance riding Mindset:
Long distance mountain bike routes are often seen as only for the super fit, or for the "crazy". Often long distance events end up in a bucket list. And seen as something that's best left to try only once.
Is it possible for the average fit person to ride long distances often, I think that YES you can.
During a club ride my fellow mountain biker Marius shared an interesting story. We started off talking about why we ride and ended up talking about how accessible adventure riding is to most riders.
Marius then shared a story: A middle aged lady just took up mountain biking and joined a few group ride to get into things. As I gathered she did not follow a training program or prepare specifically to compete in any mountain bike events.
I think it is safe to say that she falls within the average rider category. Typically the type of person you see at weekend club rides and bike parks.
As with any group ride they did not see each other for a while. When they met again Marius asked her how she was, surprizingly she said that she had completed a few long distance events since they last spoke.
"Shocked that a newbie could complete challenging long distance events, he had to ask her how she managed to do so..."
Her answer was simply, "I rode slow and did it for my own enjoyment". And there you have it. The slower you ride the further you will probibly go.
For some, long distance riding and even bikepacking it's not about the speed in wich you complete the journey. It is about adventure, your surroundings and discovering new places and people. And YES, most people can ride long distances. The only way to know is if you give it a go.
TIPS FOR RIDING LONGER:
Pace yourself: It is important to pace yourself and not to try and keep someone else's pace. This is sometimes difficult especially when you start riding. It's normal to peddle harder in the beginning of a ride.
With long distance riding it will take some mental discipline to ride slower in the beginning but you will enjoy the rewards during the later stages of your journey.
Fuel your body: Stop, eat and drink along the route. Ask your local bike shop when stocking on food and drink how often you need to feed your body. Long distance riding will normally see riders with backpacks or bike bags, so the additional food and drink required to sustain yourself can be stored easily.
Use your equipment: Your biggest tool on long distance rides is your bike. Ride your bike with energy consumption in mind. Use as little energy as possible. Free wheel on downhills. I try and maximize recovery on downhills by braking and free wheeling for longer.
Then when the inevitable next climb arrives I feel ready. A good rule to follow when going uphill is to keep a steady cadence. I do this by switching to an easier gear as soon as I feel strain on my legs. The trick is not to increase your cadence when switching to an easier gear but also not to decrease your cadence.
Stop and smell the roses: There is nothing worse then doing a long distance adventure and afterwards having nothing to show for your efforts. Use your phone camera to capture the journey, nature and people you rode with. Create your own story to reflect on when you look back on your accomplishments.
Make peace with pain: It is safe to say that at some stage discomfort and possibly pain might become part of your adventure. Don't fight it, these ingredients contribute to your sense of achievement. These elements can be managed and limited if you keep the above tips in mind. If and when it arrives keep in mind that the uncomfortable is only temporary.
The climax: Riders looking for that one thing that makes a Journey worth while are often dissapointed. I try and look at the whole experience, what I have achieved and what I have learned and can do better the next time around. Most people are tired, dirty and just want to go home after a long route. Creating an anticlimatic ending is normally a mindset and can be remidied with a hot shower and some rest.
Hope to see you bikepacking soon.