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a question of motivation

Old 03-31-16, 03:31 PM
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katytron
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a question of motivation

Hi everyone, about a month ago I bought a trek 7.2fx with the vague notion of peddling around my neighbourhood for fun and fitness, with maybe the eventual goal in mind to commute the 8.3km/5miles to work and back.

Did some research, went into a bike shop here in the city, got recommendations and made the purchase. Everything was going well until I actually tried to get on the damn thing and get moving: I'm completely terrified of being on two wheels, and can't seem to get mounted & moving on any kind of incline (my home is on a very slope-y street). Embarrassed but undeterred, I walked the bike about 7-8minutes to our local park and tried again on a flatter surface. The result this time was a bit more promising, as I can get on and get going. No idea what I'm doing with regards to gears, going downhill at a speed greater than a snail's crawl is terrifying and has me gripping the brakes, uphill still too daunting, and anything more complex than steering around a gentle curve is right out. But movement is still happening, so I count it as a win!

After about 25 minutes I walk back home, feeling shaky yet exhilarated, but definitely exhausted. Sore backside for a few days. My boyfriend gets on it from day 1 and immediately starts zipping up and down the slope-y street we live on, so I know it's possible. But after that initial ride I haven't touched the damn bike. So here's my question. I always seem to feel most like riding about an hour after I get into bed to sleep for the night, which is obviously not the ideal time.

How do you guys translate your fond wishes to be riding into actual action the next day? Any tips for someone who was a completely competent cyclist as a kid but has struggled coming back to it as an adult? I know doing it is the only way to improve and I've found the stories in this forum really helpful and motivating, so I'm hoping for some tips & encouragement myself! Ta xx
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Old 03-31-16, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by katytron View Post
How do you guys translate your fond wishes to be riding into actual action the next day?
Make it a habit at least every other day, like brushing your teeth or showering. While hard for the first few weeks it doesn't take much motivation to keep doing the same thing.

I ride after I get up (and make myself a lunch bag on work days) six days a week, and haven't missed a day in over a year for anything but medical reasons.

Once beyond puttering around a flat park add 10% to your time or mileage each week except on an easy week out of every three or four so you don't over-do it. Early on that might involve adding days - ex 10 miles a day 3 days a week, 11, 12, 13, 10 miles a day 4 days a week.

A weekly longer ride double your usual daily fix is a good idea.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 03-31-16 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 03-31-16, 04:53 PM
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I would suggest you drop the bike for a month and work on general fitness. Getting stronger in your legs by longer walks, doing some mild core work, and balance work. There are TONS of no equipment needed workouts that focus on core and balance available on the internet.

Once you have a bit of cardio, strength, and balance built up, I suspect the bike won't be so scary.

If you are really that uncomfortable, one fall, and you wont get back on.
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Old 03-31-16, 05:06 PM
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I don't know what to tell you other than practice every day on a flat surface for a week or two.
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Old 03-31-16, 10:53 PM
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Are you being challenged by a feeling of fear or losing your balance? If it is latter, you might want to a doctor and see if you have an inner ear/balance issue.
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Old 03-31-16, 11:15 PM
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I think you should practice mounting, dismounting, riding and braking in a protected area until you get very comfortable. I wouldn't ride to work for a bit. Go practice somewhere 20-30 minutes a day away from traffic, hills, etc. Go at your own pace. Riding is supposed to be fun. Hang in there.
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Old 04-01-16, 12:05 AM
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thanks for the advice! i'm actually a competitive weightlifter so while cardio isn't really my focus i have a decent amount of strength built up. i don't struggle at all on stationary bikes at the gym, i just have an issue with feeling too embarrassed to be a visible beginner during daylight hours! there's really no solution other than getting out and doing it though, so that's my goal for now
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Old 04-01-16, 02:12 AM
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Ride at night. Get some strong lights on your bike. Wear high vis clothing. Problem solved.
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Old 04-01-16, 08:04 AM
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Best motivation I have is to remember that, when I'm feeling unmotivated to go ride, that in my life there have been very few occasions where I have ridden my bike and regretted it or not had fun, but there have been countless times when I have regretted *not* riding my bike. No matter how cold/windy/sore legs/not enough time I have, once I'm out there on my bike, it's all good times.
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Old 04-01-16, 09:46 AM
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Have you ever ridden a bike before? I know its a bit obvious, but not all adults have ridden before, looking for a point of reference. I know my wife has similar struggles on hilly rides, mostly going downhill. While I am okay at close to 40 mph she is scared at 20 even though she has no problem pedaling at 20+ on the flats. The more often you do it the more comfortable it becomes.
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Old 04-01-16, 10:12 AM
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My sister in law had a bike as a kid, but when I gave her a bike as an adult, she had sincere questions. I happily explained the answers and she was appreciative. There are things that lifelong riders do that seem automatic, and maybe we take it for granted.
@katytron - you are on the right track. I have a mantra about motivation - motivation is a fickle friend: it comes and goes. So, if you wait for "motivation" you may never get it done. You've got to decide that you are going to do something then do it. Just like with your lifting - you didn't get where you are without commitment, consistency and practice. You totally have it in you to do this. Did the bike shop help you set the saddle to a good height, adjust things to your liking? Don't practice hills as a beginner - they can be challenging and there are some techniques.

Please post back and say how it's going.
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Old 04-01-16, 10:24 AM
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I developed some issues with anxiety that I've been working on, and perhaps my experience can help you. One of the things I got anxious about is riding my bike even though I also love it.

It's critical to desensitize yourself to what makes you anxious, and that the only way to do that is to expose yourself to it whether you want to or not. Easier said then done… But I've found that planning in advance works best for me. I'll put something on my calendar, internalize that it needs to happen, and let inertia carry me through into doing it. It's even better if I plan something with my husband, because he will make me go no matter how miserable I am about it.

Another lesson I'm working on internalizing is that motivation doesn't matter. You don't have to be motivated to do something, you do it because you have to and/or learn to anticipate the accomplishment of having done it. For you, maybe wanting that feeling of exhilaration that you described instead of wanting to actually ride your bike could get you going. Doing something major isn't even necessary to get that pattern of behavior started; going to the park and riding on the flat trail is an excellent thing to do!

Finally, if you've been off the bike for a long time you might benefit from adult skills classes (example), or by checking out some group rides in your area that are aimed at new/slow/recreational cyclists. I found this in Sydney, maybe they could help you get started?

Good luck! Keep in mind that time and practice will really help.
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Old 04-01-16, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by katytron View Post
thanks for the advice! i'm actually a competitive weightlifter so while cardio isn't really my focus i have a decent amount of strength built up. i don't struggle at all on stationary bikes at the gym, i just have an issue with feeling too embarrassed to be a visible beginner during daylight hours! There's really no solution other than getting out and doing it though, so that's my goal for now
And an admirable goal it is!!

For motivation, at least for this month, is to do the 30 Days of Cycling challenge; riding all 30 days of April, distance not mattering. Next month it'll be some other goal to motivate me. For starters though, your goal sounds great!!

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Old 04-01-16, 10:34 AM
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All of the above, at your leisure. The one I like best: Keep on the flat at the park for a while. There are usually curves to practice with and big grassy areas in the event something goes awry.

Got helmet?
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Old 04-01-16, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by katytron View Post

How do you guys translate your fond wishes to be riding into actual action the next day? Any tips for someone who was a completely competent cyclist as a kid but has struggled coming back to it as an adult? I know doing it is the only way to improve and I've found the stories in this forum really helpful and motivating, so I'm hoping for some tips & encouragement myself! Ta xx
Pick up your bike and just ride it where ever you want. Around the park, down the street, to the coffee shop. Make small goals in each ride, like make it to the coffee shop, ride here for a nice view, ect ect. Enjoy it and don't over think it.
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Old 04-01-16, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
Enjoy it and don't over think it.
Abandoned parking lot. Like @velicivixen said, you have to decide to do it until you feel comfortable with it. Then, if riding is really for you, the motivation will be the pure enjoyment of it.
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Old 04-01-16, 12:35 PM
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Reach out to your local bike coalition to see if they do any urban riding classes to tell you the right way to ride in town! I found it pretty helpful. There are some unobvious traffic rules.
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Old 04-01-16, 03:24 PM
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I once read an interesting article about bicycle agility drills for kids, I wish I could find it again.

The one thing I remember is a drill where you put a traffic cone/pole up, ride by it holding the bars with one hand, and knock it down with the other.

Then set up a shorter target, do it again.

Keep going to shorter and shorter targets, so you have to lean over while biking, and maintain balance and straight steering with one hand, until an extreme of picking up a water bottle from the ground.

Maybe you could think up exercises like that for riding in the park, or start simpler.

Like can you ride straight along a painted line (parking lot stripe)?

Can you zigzag between 1/4 and 3/4 across the lines between sidewalk slabs?

Can you dodge pieces of dog poo?

Can you intentionally run over small rocks and medium sticks without losing control?

Can you bump up bigger and bigger curbs?

Carry crumpled pieces of paper in your shorts pocket, can you ride by a trashcan and put them in?
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Old 04-01-16, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Keep going to shorter and shorter targets, so you have to lean over while biking, and maintain balance and straight steering with one hand, until an extreme of picking up a water bottle from the ground.
Extreme is right, definitely would be a challenge I think! I've been riding bikes my whole life and I don't think I could do that. The closest I have done is the time I swung by a picnic table to grab a water bottle I accidentally left behind, without stopping
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Old 04-01-16, 05:10 PM
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I know I couldn't do it right now either, but it would be interesting to experiment and see how close I could get. Bike Limbo!
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Old 04-01-16, 06:02 PM
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I find that getting started every season is tough when I've been off the bike for a while. But I've learned that after the first couple of rides, things get better. Not easier, per se, but better. The hills around where I live still kick my butt, and I look semi-stupid in a bike jersey, but I know I'll feel better when I'm done. And often it just takes getting warmed up to make the ride enjoyable. After a few rides on the road, I'm ready to go for the season.
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Old 04-02-16, 07:05 AM
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Give your boyfriend $300.00 on the first day of every month. Tell him he has to give you back $10.00 every day you ride - no ride he gets extra spending money. That should do the trick. Saddle time is all you need, the rest comes naturally.
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Old 04-02-16, 08:01 AM
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Reading BF and telling newbs what kind of bike to buy makes me want to ride. Best thing I've heard about motivation comes from chess grand master Magnus Carlson. The more likely you are to win the more motivation you have. If you thought you had a very good chance to get a job you would spend money and time to get it but if you thought it was a long shot or near impossible you would not spend much time, effort or money on it. A bit counter intuitive as if something were very difficult it will require more effort. but The closer you are to a goal the more motivation u have. It is possible, people with all sorts of body types can ride around for a half hour. You can ride at night, some people ride all night around mountains.
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Old 04-02-16, 09:27 AM
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Here goes my stupid advise. Take it for what it is worth to you.

The first time I bought my bike, I took it to a park that had a flat walking/biking path. I thought I would be cool and ride up a short steep hill on grass. I ride a hybrid, not the best tires to ride on grass. I went so darn slow up that grassy hill that I eventually ended up falling off the bike. I fell on the grass, sat up, made sure I was okay, then I laid there again for a few minutes. I didn't die, I didn't get hurt. A few people noticed (which was my biggest fear) I can do this. If I fall, I fall. I still have a fear of going for a ride over my handlebars.

As far as the rest of it goes, you will get used to it. Your ass will be able to handle the seat, you will become overall more comfortable on the bike, the more you ride.. Just do it... feel funny walking your bike uphill? Drive it. Put it on the back of your car until you can make that hill.
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Old 04-02-16, 04:12 PM
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thank you everyone for your help and suggestions! this morning i woke up and while my bedside clock said 7am, my phone and watch were telling me it was only 6am. i realised daylight savings had ended here last night (it's autumn/fall here in my part of the southern hemisphere) so i figured hey, traffic will probably be pretty light and most everybody with some sense is still asleep so early on a sunday morning, why not slap on your helmet, jump on the bike, and check out that path you were curious about?

so i did! even managed to get halfway up the hill around the corner before having to get off & push. the path turned out to be a bust but there are plenty of other options. got in about 20-25 minutes and already feel way more optimistic about my improvement. i was right about traffic being light to non-existent, even saw someone else pushing their bike up a steep hill before zipping off and disappearing. going rapidly downhill on narrow sidewalks was terrifying and there were a few wobbles but no harm done! hopefully i can continue the momentum and do little rides frequently to build up my skills & confidence
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