Overcoming the Winter Blues

Spring is starting to reveal itself. There’ve been days in New Mexico already where the weather is gorgeous, not a cloud in the sky, and the temperature doesn’t dictate the need to cover up your sexy spandex (unless, of course, you’re one of the cool kids with baggy mountain bike clothes). In short, there’s absolutely no excuse not to find yourself on two wheels. Sometimes I hate days like that.

What's this white powder on the ground? Photo by jkldouglas

For me at least, I’ve spent the past two or three months convincing myself that tomorrow is the day I brave the cold or jump on the trainer.

I call them the winter blues.

As a transplant from Florida, I despise the cold. Fat biking in the snow while having to worry about frostbite? Not me. You’ll find me in front of the fireplace with hot cocoa  But let’s be honest: there are always excuses to get out of physical activity besides the weather.

As a new mom, I have become the queen of excuses. There’s the 11pm, 2am, 4am, and 5:30am feeding excuses, the house needs to be cleaned excuse, it’s too cold, too windy, I just polished off an entire pizza and can’t move excuse. Juggling full time work and life as a new parent can provide one with a plethora of excuses. Sir Isaac Newton is often (loosely) quoted as saying “a body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest stays at rest.” I’m pretty sure Sir Newton was speaking directly about butts on couches.

My husband has a fantastic philosophy, one that I have been attempting to adopt lately: you never regret going for a ride. So instead of making excuses, I have been sucking it up and riding (most of the time). Cold, tired, jacked up on coffee, and delirious from lack of sleep, I’ve ridden. And you know what? I haven’t regretted a ride yet. There has been cursing on the long climbs, which plague the beginning of almost all trails here in New Mexico, but that’s quickly followed by sheer bliss as soon as the nose of my bike points downhill.

Besides the cold weather, one of the biggest obstacles to biking I’ve had to overcome lately is riding solo. Riding with someone usually makes the ride exponentially better: there’s always someone around to see your epic huck or epic crash. My husband used to be my go-to mountain biking buddy. Mountain biking used to be our hobby. Weekends revolved around where we were going to ride. Vacations were destination mountain biking trips. Our savings were ear-marked for new bikes or parts.

Since the baby… not so much. Weekend rides have become short solo rides. Vacations… well, that’s sleeping in past 6am on a Saturday. Life has changed. Besides having the cutest kid on the face of the earth, I’ve grown to cherish the short solo rides. It’s become therapeutic… almost. But it has made getting on the trails tougher.

I’ve created a list of things I try to do in order to increase the likelihood that I will ride. The weekdays are a bit of a crapshoot, but following even a couple of the items below will guarantee that I will ride on the weekend.

1. Make it Easy

Keep your tires pumped up and your bike in good working order. If you have to wrench on your bike before a ride, you’ll most likely not go. And it never fails that you’ll need a small part that you can only get from a bike shop after said bike shop closes.

2. Lay it Out  

Have all your gear ready to go in one place. If you use a pack, keep it fully stocked with all the essentials. Keep a set of biking clothes clean. This may not be a barrier for the dudes, but I’ve talked myself out of rides due to not wanting wear stank.

3. Set Yourself Up for Success

Don’t start painting the house or eating an entire pizza an hour before you plan on riding. Everyone knows you’re looking for an excuse by engaging in activities like these.

4. Sign Up for a Race or Paid Ride  

No one wants to blow chunks on a race course because the race is the first time in months you’ve been on a bike. This can be a pricey route depending on the event, but one that works for me (to a degree).

5. Buy/Build a Sexy Bike

This is one of the most expensive routes. But if you have a sexy bike, you’ll want to show it off on the trails. And unless you hike trails while pushing your bike, it almost guarantees that you’ll be riding.

6. Plan that Dream Bike Vacation  

There’s no better motivation for me than getting in top shape to shred singletrack I’ve been drooling to ride for years.

7. Bike with a Buddy  

It’s easy to back out on yourself, but throw another person in the mix and you won’t want to disappoint them. Riding with a better mountain biker than yourself is twice as effective. You’re more likely to push yourself during the ride, as well as add extra rides in order to stay in shape to keep up with your buddy.

8. Keep Momentum

This is one of the most important aspects of riding for me, and ties back to Sir Newton and his laws of physics. Excercise begets more excercise. Even if you can only get a short ride in, ride anyway. The more you ride, the better shape you’ll be in, and the more you’ll want to ride next time. It’s hard to convince yourself to ride if you know you’re going to wheeze on all the climbs.

If you need even more motivation, join Singletracks with our 30 days of biking challenge in April!

Your turn: What keeps you motivated and on the trails?