Sunrises likes this are one of the perks of getting out of bed for a ride.

If you’ve been following this site long, you’ll no doubt know that riding bikes for transportation is important to me.

You may also know that I’m easily motivated to use my bike for transportation. Having one car in the family that is often driven by my wife to her job on the south side where she finishes up around midnight, makes it even more motivating. If I have somewhere to go, I often have no choice but to ride my bike. I like it that way.

What is more of a challenge however is working up the motivation to ride my bike recreationally. It’s always fun once you get out on the road, but for the last year or so, I’ve found myself increasingly likely to shut the alarm off and go back to bed as opposed to getting up and riding.

I use all the regular excuses. I’m to busy with work or my MBA program. Family commitments get in the way etc… What it boils down to is a lack of motivation.

For a while I had a lot of success riding with a club, but as my schedule became more constrained, I needed to go earlier than the club was going.

I tried riding with friends. Making a commitment to ride with someone is a great way to get your out of the house. Of course trying to coordinate schedules can be a nightmare and often they are just as busy as you and can’t make it.

Here’s what has been working for me lately: events. I recently signed up for the Deuces Wild Xterra organized by TriSports. It’s basically an off-road triathlon. It consists of an 800-meter swim, a 24-kilometer bike ride and an eight-kilometer run.

I’ve never done anything like it in my life and needless to say the need to train for it has been getting my rear out of bed at 5 a.m. every morning.

I’ve been concentrating on running and swimming since I don’t do either. I’ve realized that by biking almost exclusively for the last three years, that I have gotten very efficient at pedaling a bike. Running and swimming have been murderous, but I am getting better.

Do you have any tips and tricks for staying motivated on the bike?

10 thoughts on “Staying motivated to ride recreationally”
  1. Not owning a car is my motivation. If I can’t walk someplace or (gasp!) spend money on bus or cab fare, it’s bicycling time.

    Nothing like eschewing big, money-eating possessions. Nothing like it at all.

  2. I can relate to the running being murderous, I recently joined a gym and the elliptical is very tough, it destroys me everytime. Good luck, sounds fun.

  3. You should just adopt my motto:  triathalons would be great if it weren’t for the running and swimming.  Motivation?  Beer and ice cream are my motivation.   I just know that I need to drag my sorry, tired butt out of bed at 5:30 in the morning to burn off calories that I will replace later.  It’s like the great columnist Ira Berkow wrote in the NY Times many decades ago–something like, “people run for a lot of reasons.  I run for beer.”

  4. Prepare the evening before so as to remove early morning surprises that may demotivate or provide facile excuse. That means check the bike (tire pressure, brakes, headlight battery, etc.). Lay out clothing, footwear, set aside light food, iced tea, whatever hydration you plan to use during the ride. (take ownership of a corner of the fridge). Commit to the ride the evening before. This should apply to sport/rec and commute rides.

    Swimming is probably the best offset for retarded cycling memory muscles; we are considering installing an endless pool.

  5. I try to remember how much better I feel after the ride.  It’s hard for me, at 4:30, to keep moving towards the ride.  But by 6:30, I feel much better for having ridden.  As a marginal ADD-type, riding also helps concentration through the rest of the morning.

  6. Roger on the ADD thing, Cwwees. I can totally relate.

    One of the good things about bicycling is that you have to pay attention to it. Especially if you’re riding in the city. You can’t let your mind wander.

  7. Ride with someone else.  You’re not gonna skip a workout when you mentally picture someone else staring at your watch wondering where the hell you are

  8. I
    found it difficult to stay motivated to go on recreational rides when
    biking was my only means of transportation. I still don’t have a car,
    but I now have a partner who wants to pick me up from work in bad
    weather and drive when we go places together. I still commute and run
    errands by bike, but my motivation to ride was increased by having
    more of a choice.

    am now also motivated by having a clear fitness goal. I decided about
    a month ago that I wanted to loose 50 lbs in the next year. To keep
    up my motivation for weight loss, I focus on how much more fun riding
    will be and that new bike I am going to get when I reach my goal.
    This also keeps me motivated to ride – especially knowing what a
    huge improvement I will see in my riding over the next year.

  9. I am just recently having a similar problem. I was riding wih my brother who is supposed to be doing el tour with me. He is being a little pansy with back problems. Now I am slacking, not riding all that I was and skipping my long weekend rides.

    I like riding myself, but not every ride. I need to find another rider to get in sync with or also join a group. So that’s my suggestion is to join up with someone or a group. I am gonna try a weekend group first.

  10. I really enjoyed riding with Cactus Cycling Club. The schedule in the end just didn’t work out for me. 

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