New Year’s resolutions can be a bind. You start off with good intentions, whether that be to cycle more, achieve a PB or skip the cake on your Sunday ride coffee stop. But at some point, things inevitably begin to slip. And then the guilt starts…
This year, we’re not going to give you suggestions for things you can do to improve your life or your cycling performance in 2019. Because to us, the most important thing is that you’re having fun on the bike. Admittedly, your idea of fun may differ from the cyclist pedalling next to you. Some people simply enjoy getting out in the fresh air. For others, fun is the pain of a good hill rep session. And you know what? That’s totally fine. If we were all the same, life would be boring.
So rather than a list of New Year’s resolutions, here’s a selection of cycling challenges for 2019 – two for each month of the year. And just so we can cater to everyone’s idea of fun, there are two categories:
Suitable for all, these challenges will encourage you to look at cycling in a new light and enjoy some two-wheeled adventures whatever your ability level.
If your motto is, “pain is just weakness leaving the body”, you love nothing more than a 20% hill climb, and “training” is just another word for “fun”, then pick one of our tougher challenges.
Peloton: January is the most popular month for diets, but it’s also when our bodies crave warm, comforting food. Ditch the diet this January and go on a pudding ride. Pick a number of stops (we suggest at least three) and cycle between them, stopping for dessert in each one. If you’re of a more savoury person, then swap puddings for pies.
Breakaway: Have you ever cycled literally all day? Make the most of the limited daylight at this time of year and set out to cycle from dawn until dusk. It’s about eight hours, give or take a bit. Don’t forget your lights for the beginning and end of the day.
Peloton: February is the month of luuurve, and after a long cold winter your noble steed is in need of a bit of TLC. Teach yourself some basic bike maintenance (our YouTube channel has some great videos) and strip and clean your bike. We may be stretching the definition of “fun” here, but you’ll definitely feel better for having done it. You could also book yourself in to one of our FIX IT classes to gain that essential basic knowledge.
Breakaway: Booking a training camp in the sun is the perfect motivation for winter training. Southern Spain, Majorca and the Canary Islands are all great destinations for winter cycling.
Peloton: Go on a city break with a difference and explore a European city by bike. Opt for an organised bike tour, use a bike rental scheme, or take your own trusted companion with you. Just remember which side of the road you’re cycling on.
Breakaway: Why just explore one European city when you can explore two? Pick two cities a reasonable distance apart and aim to cycle between them in a long weekend. For example, Florence to Rome is 290km and Amsterdam and Brussels are 340 kilometres apart (following the LF2 route).
Peloton: You may feel you know your local area pretty well, but there’s always something new to discover, especially if you take a different mode of transport. This month try exploring your local area by bike.
Breakaway: Go back to paper maps! Ride without a Garmin/GPS for a month and record how many times you get lost. Your nose may take you to new and interesting places and if you end up doing a few more miles to get back on track, well, it’s all good training.
Peloton: Get some friends together for a cycling pub crawl. Choose an easy, safe route and if you’re planning to drink, then arrange a lift home as you can get fined for cycling under the influence of alcohol. Safety first!
Breakaway: The Fred Whitton challenge is widely regarded to be the toughest one day sportive in the UK, taking in all of the Lakeland passes on its 112-mile route. The 2018 event is on 13 May, but the ballot for entries opens in January.
Peloton: Pick up a different type of bike this month. Only got a road bike? Hire a mountain bike and tackle some downhill trials at your local mountain bike centre. Or if you always ride off-road, give the skinny tyres a go and explore some quiet country lanes.
Breakaway: Explore all the cycling cafes in your county. This is a bit like January’s pudding challenge, but as you’ll be covering more distance, you’ll need the long days of June (and the extra cake calories).
Peloton: Enjoy the best of the summer weather and enter a (friendly) cycling event. Our RIDE IT series of off-road and road sportive bike rides have different length courses so there’s something for all abilities. What’s more, children go free!
Breakaway: Hamstrings and quads at the ready! It’s time for an uphill challenge. Grab your copy of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs and see how many you can cycle in a day.
Peloton: Whatever your size and shape of family, a cycling holiday is a great way to explore new places. Be realistic in your plans, particularly if you have small children. Holland and some of the flatter areas in France are ideal for young cyclists.
Breakaway: Taking place over three or seven days, the famous Haute Route events offer a pro-riding experience for amateur riders. Taking you through iconic cycling terrain, strict cut-off times add a sense of urgency and the competition will make you push yourself harder than you thought possible.
Peloton: You don’t get many opportunities to see the world’s best cyclists competing on Britain’s roads, which makes watching the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire extra special. The event takes place between September 21st and 28th 2019.
Breakaway: Test your multi-day endurance by cycling a long-distance trail. Popular options in the UK include the Trans Pennine Trail, the two Coast and Castle routes in Scotland and, of course, Land’s End to John o’Groats.
Peloton: Grab your partner, cycling buddy or best friend – it’s time to take a trip on a tandem. Just like any new relationship, it can be a bit awkward at first, but once you’ve got used to it you won’t want to stop.
Breakaway: Make the most of dreary weather by jumping on the turbo trainer and attempting the Knights of Sufferlandria challenge. All you have to do to get your knighthood is complete ten back-to-back Sufferfest videos.
Peloton: Give your legs a rest this month and build your own retro bike. Start by scouring eBay or even bicycle scrapyards for old parts. It’ll be a labour of love, but you’ll end up with a unique, one-of-a-kind bicycle.
Breakaway: If you’re feeling a need for speed then give track cycling a go with a velodrome taster session at one of the UK’s six indoor velodromes.
Peloton: Embrace the mud and snow of winter and try your hand at fat biking. Fat bikes make easy work of obstacles that you may otherwise struggle with on a regular mountain bike and are suitable for all types of terrain. And if you hire one, you don’t even have to clean the mud off after your ride.
Breakaway: Burn off your Christmas dinner by taking part in the Rapha Festive500. This annual challenge requires you to cycle 500km in the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Log your rides on Strava and if you hit the magic number, you can claim your complimentary roundel from Rapha.
Let us know if you already have some exciting plans for 2019..