What to do when you don’t want to ride your bike

One of my friends and teammates asked our team for advice when you don’t want to ride or race your bike. They said they felt guilty looking at the bike leaning against the wall, collecting dust, but when they jumped on it, they didn’t want to be on the saddle either. Our team is full of multi-sport athletes who constantly support one another. They listed what helped them in the past and present when they didn’t feel motivated to jump on their saddle. 

If you find yourself staring at your bike waiting for motivation to snag you, then put some of these ideas to test. 

  1. HTFU and put in some serious riding and you’ll eventually remember how much you love it.
  2. Don’t force it. Do some other form of exercise (run, swim, trail run, hiking, CrossFit, yoga, whatever) and come back to riding when you can’t stand not doing it any longer.
  3. Take some time to think deeply about the ‘why’ it’s not fun. Sometimes it’s being spread too thin, not enough time to make it feel like you expect it to and just tired of it. There is no right answer but it might help you understand where you are.
  4. Sometimes a good break can rejuvenate your interest. 
  5. I’m more of the school of thought to play with other activities and then you’ll find your love for riding again. I find that when I spend the winter in snow sports (instead of the indoor trainer), I love when it’s time to bike outside again. It does mean for me that some racers that train year-round knock me off the podium, but I find for me that I’d rather have FUN and wouldn’t trade one epic snowboarding day for a few racers passing me.
  6. Get a mountain bike trails are fun and you can train.
  7. To me, its pretty simple, if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. Nothing to feel guilty about. It’s a personal decision to ride a little, or a lot, or not at all. You don’t owe anything to anyone. Maybe some time away will make you realize you do miss it and enjoy it. Maybe not. Personally, I wouldn’t feel guilty at all – which I know is easier said than done. Maybe that was harsh – but basically what I’m saying is – do you and don’t worry about the rest!
  8. Maybe try a different path out of town or ask some friends to go on a mellow ride? Or take fun rides to go to eat or get coffee. Do something that has a goal at the end that isn’t related to watts. Going to get food is always fun. Have you considered going without biking data for a while? Or rest. That might be helpful. You know you can always post a ride and choose the pace and route if it’s more fun to ride with others.
  9. This is old school – but before cycle-cross became so specialized, cyclocross was about having fun and a change of pace from riding the road. X-C skiing was also a great offseason alternative. There used to be more emphasis on cross training to keep you fit but mentally fresh. What’s working for me now is the adventure of using a bike for transportation and exploring the city with all the great neighborhoods and gardens. It is a feast for the eyes and without any conscious effort at training. And there are some non-technical dirt trails to enjoy as well.
  10. Unfortunately, bike racing is kind of a miserable thing to have in your life when you’re a bit out of shape and undermotivated. No matter how much you train, someone else is training more. No matter how fast you are, someone else is faster. That’s depressing. If it makes you feel any better, this year I’ve gone from feeling completely unmotivated and wondering if I should find a different hobby, to being stoked about racing again. I’ve done this for four years. 2016 was fun, but I was out most of 2017 and 2018 was a throwaway year (weak). I’m coming round to the view that racing is definitely a long game. Plenty of guys in their 50’s and 60’s, still reaping the physical and mental joys of fitness. It’s impossible that every year is an up year. You’re bound to have some years where life gets in the way. It’s about staying in the game just enough to play the long game.
  11. What’s has helped me a lot is just accepting that I am where I am and starting from there and letting that be ok. The first 2 or 3 rides felt weird, but then things started to feel more normal again, and after a few weeks of structured training I’ve been surprised how fast a decent level of fitness has come back. That’s the other thing that has helped me is following a structured plan again. It’s motivating and helps get me out the door to have a particular goal to accomplish for that day – x number of intervals or whatever. Much easier than just aimlessly riding in the morning a couple of days a week. The weather finally getting nice has been a game changer and helped me remember why I enjoy cycling.
  12. Personally, my motivation comes and goes throughout a year. What I like about the sport is that it offers so many dimensions. If you’re burnt out on training, don’t train. Go ride. Explore. Do rides you haven’t done for different reasons than you were. It can be so easy to get caught up in the numbers, structured training, race days, points, upgrades, etc. and none of that stuff actually matters. Bicycle riding is a form of self-expression, and you can do that in any way you want. Through racing, through not racing. Cycling is a rich and varied experience, and it’s not the same for everyone.
  13. For me, it’s about being outside. Being with friends. And going fast. In that order, or in a different order based on the time of year. Numbers and training are useful for only one of those things. I hate riding a trainer because it’s only useful for one of those things. I learned a while ago to not let the utility of tools in a narrow aspect of the sport define it.
  14. Finding other activities that you can have a passion for if this happens.. Let go of any expectations or guilt… No benefit to you. We should love what we do in all areas of life, or don’t do them!!
  15. I’ve talked to several people who are in the same boat—myself included. It’s like I just can’t get motivated. The weather this year obviously has not helped and I feel like because I was gone so much in the spring, I’m way out of shape. I enjoy riding, but its a struggle to get on the trainer and complete workouts. I just feel like I’d rather go to the pool or do something else outside. I’m not sure what it is this season that seems to be having an impact on people. I do agree with others though that you should try something different. Give your body and mind a break and find some enjoyment.

Motivation ebbs and flows over days, weeks, months, and years. We’re human. We feel things. Sometimes we need a break. And sometimes that break lasts a few blinks of an eye or a few years. Regardless, the most important thing is to do something because you want to do it, not because you feel like you “should.” Give yourself grace. 

What'd you think?