New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be imposing workout plans and doomed gym memberships. In fact, keeping things modest can help you achieve the goals you do set. Starting a new calendar year is simply a good cue to take a look back at your year in riding and pick out a few things you’d like to improve, or simply do differently for 2018. Whether it’s starting a new routine our breaking out of an old one, here’s some ideas for how to improve your riding this year, and hopefully get more enjoyment out of your time on the bike along the way.
This perennial goal appears on every list of goals and resolutions, sure, but it’s always a good goal to focus on. Not every ride has to be epic, squeeze in little rides wherever you can and they’ll add up. It doesn’t even have be on a mountain bike, any time on two wheels will help when you hit the trails. Even the shortest ride is better than no ride at all, right?
Ride somewhere new
Nothing beats the excitement of exploring a new town and new trails. Go on a big trip, go to the next town over, or just ride a part of your local trail network that you’d usually skip. The trails will be fresh and different than what you’re used to riding. A great day on the trail is always the main goal, but riding new trails is also a great way to improve your riding. Having to react to the unknown around every corner, and facing new trail features will make you a better rider when you’re back on home turf.
Learn a new skill
Or try to. Whether it’s 360 barspins, learning to wheelie, or bunnyhopping a curb, everyone hits the limits of their technical abilities at some point. Pick one skill you’ve always wanted to be able to do and make that your focus until you’ve mastered it. Break it down into smaller parts, watch how-to videos, and then practice any chance you get.
Go to a new race
This sounds kind of like “ride somewhere new,” sure, but racing somewhere unfamiliar can bring excitement back into racing. If you’ve been hitting the same circuit for a couple seasons, new races means new people to race against and new trails to ride, and every race pushes you in a different way. Plus, there’s less stress about beating your time from last year, or “that hill” on your local race that you dread every year. Mostly, though, you get to hang out with a bunch of great new people and, if you don’t throw too many elbows during the race, maybe meet new riding friends.
Try racing, or try racing a new race format
Whether you usually shy away from start lines, or regularly attend the same type of race, try a race you’re less familiar with. Trade in XC for Enduro, or put slimmer tires on your big bike and try a marathon XC. You don’t always need the perfect bike to enter a race, and sometimes it is even fun to be under- or over-biked. You’ll meet new people, and push yourself in ways you wouldn’t in your usual routine.
Learn a new maintenance skill
Knowing more about your bike and how it works is a great way to get more out of your riding, and potentially get out of a bad situation. Don’t wait until something breaks, though, and don’t just wing it. Pick a part you want to know more about and do your research so you don’t have to go to your LBS asking for help fixing a half finished job.
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Volunteer for trail maintenance days
The refrain of “no dig, no ride” shouldn’t sound like a call to chores. Trail building and maintenance is, at minimum, another way to spend the day hanging about in the woods. Trail work also gives you an interesting new perspective on what goes into building and maintaining trails, and why trails are built a certain way. You’ll also meet other riders that like spending their free time in the woods just as much as you do.
Volunteer at a race
Putting on a local race takes a huge amount of time and requires all sorts of help from the local community. Pick a weekend and trade in the race plate for a volunteer vest. On top of helping out, you also get to see a crowd of new faces enjoying racing, which will make you all the more stoked to get back between the tape next weekend. Or volunteer to clean-up after a race, at a skills clinic, a fundraiser, or whatever you feel requires help the most.
Start a regular core workout routine
Or yoga, or TRX, or … whatever new program is cool this week. But do some strength and stability training this year. Even if you’re not racing, your lower back will thank you when you’re grunting up some unbearably steep hill this summer. You don’t have to do a big workout all the time, or even go out to a group class. Regularly doing a few planks and sit-ups in the morning doesn’t take long and adds up to have a positive effect. Don’t listen to the naysayers, six minute core is possible.
Ride with new people
Switch it up and drop in on another shops group ride or, if mtb group rides aren’t yet a thing where you are, start your own. If you prefer smaller groups for riding, call up that old riding buddy you haven’t connected with in months. Riding with different people is a great way to refresh your riding routine, see new trails, or see old trails in a new way.