How to Make Your Biking Habit Stick
By: Jack Foersterling, PeopleForBikes’ copywriter and editor
Fitness instructor Larissa Gaul lends some tips on maintaining a resolution to biking more often.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re one of the millions of people who discovered, or rediscovered, the joys of bicycling during the pandemic. According to a PeopleForBikes study, 10% of American adults rode a bicycle for the first time in a year or more, or ever, in 2020, or interacted with bicycling in a new way, trying out indoor riding or another discipline.
Two years later, many of those folks are still riding, and have plans to make their pandemic riding habit more permanent. Whether you took the winter off and are dusting off your bike again, have been riding more casually and are looking to take your riding to the next level or are looking to get out on your bike for the very first time, we’re here to help you make that new biking habit stick.
Larissa Gaul, a fitness instructor based out of Utah who focuses on making sure everyone finds a way they enjoy moving their bodies, says it’s all about finding your own joyful movement. According to Gaul, fun is the number one rule when it comes to starting a new exercise habit of any kind. “You have to be enjoying yourself. It’s so important that you get the feel-good endorphins,” said Gaul. “As soon as you’re forcing yourself to do something, that’s not the way to go.”
Set Reasonable Goals
If you’re aiming to keep this up long term, don’t burn yourself out right off the bat. Gaul says she often sees people try to go straight from the couch to working out twice a day, seven days a week, and that never works. Set reasonable goals early on, whether it’s mileage or a number of rides you’re trying to hit every week or month. If you’re new to biking or just getting back into it, start small — you can always expand your goals later on.
When you reach one of your goals, celebrate it! It doesn’t have to be a big milestone, either. Having “baby step” goals inside of a larger goal is a great way to recognize progress and feel good about where you started and how far you’ve come. If your end goal is to go on a 50-mile ride, celebrate your first 10-mile ride, 15-mile ride, 20-mile ride and so on. Every mini goal is progress in the right direction.
“I love to celebrate little wins,” said Gaul. “The best way to celebrate it is with other people. If you have something you want to do, find an accountability buddy — a trainer, partner at home, anyone — and find something fun to do together when you reach your goals.”
Consistency is Key
Gaul says you can get to wherever you want to go with consistency. Set ground rules and try to stick to them the best you can, your accountability buddy can help here, too. Making a schedule is also a great way to stay accountable. “If my calendar says I’m going to ride, I’m going to ride,” said Gaul.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
New habits are hard, and failure happens — that’s OK! “You have to not be too hard on yourself with any of it,” said Gaul. “That goes for quitting and getting back into it. That goes for having bad days and wanting to quit. Know that your ‘best’ is a sliding scale.”
Building a Better You
No matter why you’re getting back into biking or making an effort to ride more, congratulations. Any amount of biking is better than none, and the benefits of biking are so much more than just exercise. You can bike to run errands, visit friends or just get outside for a breath of fresh air. “Bike time is also self-care time, it’s time you can enjoy.” said Gaul. “It might not always feel great, but it’s building towards a better you.”