As we all know, current government exercise guidelines allow us to cycle alone or with members of our own household. Whilst that might seem boring, there is actually plenty of things you can do to make your cycling activities more entertaining whilst being just as safe. These ideas will help you stay motivated during this pandemic lockdown, and you might just learn a thing or two as well....
1) Make bike set up changes
Whether this is a change that you have been curious about for a while or something you'd just like to experience, now is a great time to make bike set up changes. We aren't talking about buying and fitting new kit (although that is an option!), rather we are talking about small alterations that could have a big impact on your riding such as tyre pressures, bar height, bar width or suspension settings.
We recommend finding a tame trail and riding it in your current set up, then make changes to your bike out on the trail and ride the same trail again. Just alter one thing at a time and ride the exact same trail at the same speed as previously, this way you'll get a good idea of how the new alteration has changed your bike and how you feel on it. With the admission of bar width, everything else can be changed back to your initial set up if it doesn't float your boat.
Now is a great time to do this without other riders for distraction, you might find increased grip with lower tyre pressure and find the sweet spot for traction before the tyre begins to roll or you might alter your cockpit arrangement and find that the shifter lever or dropper post so much easier to reach in a hurry. Let us know what you alter and how the experiment went!
2) Buy a gravel bike
It's time.... to give in to your deepest darkest gravel wishes! You might not be able to get to the bike shop to buy a bike but there are plenty of retailers that are happy, and still able, to ship a bike to you! As we've been finding out the gravel bike is the perfect partner for some chilled out fire road bashing, keeping us away from the temptation of steep trails and away from the traffic on the roads too. We put together a guide to the best gravel bikes that you can get shipped to your door here. Not all are super expensive either, there are a range of price options to suit all budgets. All these bikes got over four stars when we reviewed them and they can all be delivered straight to your home, ready to ride.
3) Train harder
Ok, so this might not be the most enticing option here but if you are short on time and feel that your rides lack some satisfaction lately, training a bit harder with a good action plan might just be the pep up you need. We reckon that creating a specific loop, or planning uphill sections in advance and then using a stopwatch to time yourself (or even Strava for slightly less accurate timing) to find performance improvements over the course of the coming weeks is an excellent idea.
Timing sections will give you goals and help keep you motivated whilst tougher and more technical riding isn't recommended. Our edit Jon has an hour cross country loop close to his home, whilst I (Rach) am going faster on the gravel bike up a long, undulating hill in the Forest of Dean. I've been experimenting with point 1 above at the same time for ultimate bike geekery.....
Jon also recommends some interval training to mix things up a bit, inserting periods of maximum effort into his daily rides in the same places and tracking his improvements via his heart rate both during the exercise and in a timed recovery period after the effort. You can also measure by a power meter but we think that in these circumstances, heart rate is more practical, achievable and less costly.
Now, we know no-one here is about to be transformed into an athlete of Olympic standards during this lockdown period, that's completely unrealistic given our current life restrictions. But adding some stricture to your daily rides is a great want to stay motivated and track a goal. We think that feelings of accomplishment (however small or large) are great for our mental health and now more than ever it's important that we look after our minds as well as our bodies.
4) Experience new things
Like getting up early and going for a sunrise bike ride for example, or putting your lights on and going out for a fire road bash at sunset, returning home after dark. Most of us seem to have more free time at the moment, so put this to use doing or experiencing something you have wanted to do but never found the time!
5) Cycling geek pub quiz
This one is an 'off-the-bike' idea and one that can include people from different households! Rejoice! Begin a cycling themed pub quiz and host it over Zoom. Zoom works on both phones, tablets and desktop computers and allows all the participants to see and hear each other at the same time on a video call. All you need to do is download the app, cajole a load of mates into taking part, select a quiz master and set a time to "meet" with a beer in hand.
We recommend agreeing that the winner of the quiz hosts the next round, we could be in lockdown for a few weeks yet so there's plenty of time to get a leaderboard going. Its high time you brushed up on your road race knowledge ready for when it's that roadie loving friends turn to create the questions!
You could all take one of our interactive quizzes to form one of the rounds, here are the links:
6) Zwift race your mates
Another one that can involve more than just you, yourself and I; create a Zwift race between mates. On Zwift this is called a Meetup, it needs you all, of course, to be able to use the platform and be logged in, the organiser then chooses the course and invites others to join. Once you are all "riding" together, you will still be able to see other riders on the course but the leaderboards will be filtered to show only those in your meetup, so you can have a friendly competition for the leader's jerseys and when you chat, you’ll only see each other’s messages.
Road.cc has some great videos about getting started with Zwift and with new off-road courses you'll be able to choose between road, MTB and gravel rides for you and your friends. It'd be easy to organise a weekly hours' ride or race from your living room, it'll be like old times......
7) Organise your bat cave
The last one is, quite possibly, the most enjoyable - organise your shed/garage/spare room and see what great cycling memorabilia you can dig out! Not only is it springtime (the ideal time for a clear-out) we'd also be keen to see the goodies you find hiding under years of cycling tat. Chuck a photo in the comments below and let us know.
Is there anything we have missed, what other cycling-related (tenuous or otherwise) activities have you been partaking it to keep you busy? Let us know below....
You might also like: