This is the first in a series of posts written by veteran Bloodwise London to Paris riders, for new riders looking to get started in training and planning for an L2P ride. Got something else you’d like some advice on? Give us a shout out in the comments below.
“It never gets easier. You just go faster…” – Greg LeMond.
1. Join a club
The first thing you need to do is find people to go riding with. Yes, you can go out on your own (and we encourage you to do so) but riding with a group provides advice, encouragement, laughs, and tips on good spots for coffee. Most importantly it gives you a benchmark of speed to work towards. Ride on your own and you’ll do well. Ride with others and you’ll get better every ride. If you want to find a club, you can start by doing simple Google searches for ‘[your area] cycling club’. Also check the British Cycling website to see what’s around you.
2. Announce your plans
There’s something strange about announcing your plans to the world. Keep your plans to do L2P to yourself and you increase your chances of training less and dropping out. Tell friends, family and people online and you increase your internal motivation to get going and keep going. Or, put another way, make yourself accountable. You might be amazed what happens when you do this. Especially when you post that donation page and even more especially when that first donation arrives. Speaking of…
3. Give yourself a donation
Yes, you read that right. Why? You want to model the behaviour for others. That is to say, most people coming to your donation page will look to see what others have donated already and follow suit. If they see that the first donation is for £5, they’ll probably donate a similar amount. Have a think about your friends. Have a think about how much they might be likely to donate. £10? £50? What do you think is reasonable for your friends and family? Pick an amount that isn’t so small that you won’t hit your target, but not so big that it’ll put people off. Whatever the amount you want to set, make the donation (set anonymously) and then share the donation page online. People will follow your lead.
4. Get a riding buddy
Yes, we’ve already said you should try to join a club or a local ride, but it can also be really helpful for you to have a riding buddy. This might be someone who lives near you, and who can do smaller, spur of the moment rides without much notice. Someone who will encourage you, push you and keep you going. Someone who isn’t afraid to get in your face and tell you when you’re not putting it in.
5. Get measuring
There’s an old business adage: what gets measured gets managed. It can be argued that cycling is similar to this. Measuring your rides, your progress and your average times can be a powerful source of motivation to keep going and keep improving. This doesn’t mean you have to go mad: you don’t need to be measuring your blood-sugar this, or your lactic-acid that. Just record your rides. Note the small tiny incremental changes in performance as you ride week on week. How can you do this? Install one of the popular cycling apps on your phone such as Strava and get recording. There’s an odd, giddy thrill in seeing that you went up that hill 5 seconds faster than you did last week. But, as always, there’s a balance to be struck…
6. Give yourself a win
Measuring is good, but do it wrong and you can actually de-motivate yourself. So what to do? Don’t set your targets too high. Instead, try to give yourself a win.If you think you can ride 100km, ride 80km. If you think you can ride a maximum of 80km, ride 60km. If you think you can do 20 pushups, do 10 pushups. Keep yourself going. Give yourself a win. Remember, as a great man once said, ‘it never gets easier, you just get faster’. Keep going and then, well, just keep going.
7. Winter miles, summer smiles
Riding in winter can be tricky. Rain, wind, cold, dirty wet roads. Well, as with all things in cycling, there’s another old adage: winter miles, summer smiles. Yes, winter riding can be grim but slap that reflective gear on, layer up and just keep going. Six months later when the clouds clear and you find yourself riding up a sun-drenched hill, you will be profoundly grateful to yourself for the miles you put in now.
8. Keep updated
To keep up to date with these blogs and other tips and tricks, make sure to join the Bloodwise London 2 Paris Facebook group. Please note: this is only for those registered for the upcoming L2P event.
Sign up for L2P
You can find out more about the Bloodwise London to Paris ride here.
Photography by Dave Hayward © 2018