Around this time of year getting motivated to ride becomes tough. There are no races in sight to train for, the days are getting shorter and I have ridden the same roads more times then I care to count. Each day is a mental jousting match as I try to come up with excuses not to ride. Here are a few tricks I use to keep the motivation level high.
At the beginning of each year I set a mileage goal then brake the yearly goal to weekly goals and try to hit those miles each week. This lets me know if I am on track to reach the goal. Towards the end of the year I track how many miles I need to average each day to make the goal. This helps motivated me for a while. This years goal was 13,000 the same as last year. It has not been a good year in keeping with the weekly goals. I was ahead of schedule early then for some reason as the weather got nice my miles declined. Crewing for RAAM gave me two weeks off the bike and really set me behind the eight ball. A really good July closed the gap but not enough. Now it will be a struggle to reach the goal my the end of the year. I have to average 34 miles per day for the rest of the year. Come November and December that is going to be tough. The graph below shows my actual year to date running weekly average compared to the goal. I like to track the average week to reduce the peaks and valleys.
A new motivation this year has been riding my cyclo-cross bike on gravel roads. I purchased the bike in early April for the Trans Iowa gravel road race. Since that time I have ridden over 1200 miles on that bike. This fall I have ventured out at least twice a week in search of new roads to ride. In Muscatine county there must be 3 miles of gravel for every 1 mile of paved roads. On the longer rides I just head out into the wind following the roads to wherever they lead me. I know my way around the area well enough to know about where I will end just not sure the route that will take me there. Even pre-riding a group ride from the bike shop there are many more options of how to get there.
Gravel road riding is picking up steam in the Midwest. Each year new events are added to an already long list of gravel road ride/races. http://www.gravelgrindernews.com/ is a great sight for information. Many of these event are low key and have no entry fee. There are some riders that are completing for the win but many riders are just riding for the enjoyment. I am planning just such a race on Saturday October 24th call the Night Nonsense 100. The race is 100 miles of gravel and dirt roads around the Iowa City area. The unique aspect of this race is that is starts at 8:00 PM. 100 miles of gravel in the dark for some reason sounds like a blast. I love to ride at night and I love to ride gravel, perfect. Some of my friends might think I have lost my marbles again or that my cassette is a few teeth shy of a cluster. That is because, like my 8 year old nephew who does not like any new foods until he tries it, they have never tried this format. If they did they would be hooked like I am.
The third form of motivation is getting on the scale and see my weight increase. The equation, calories consumed must be less then or equal to calories burned only leaves two choices. I love food too much to reduce the intake as the riding reduces. Therefor I need to keep riding.
Do you have a mountain bike hanging in your garage that you are not sure where to ride. Find a gravel road and just start riding and see where it takes you. There is a huge network of roads with little traffic that will rejuvenate you and give you a good reason to get out and ride this fall. Who knows you might be the next person lining up at a gravel road race. Try it you’ll like it.