Rules for a long cycling career

4 riders on a rail trail. You’ll get the most out of cycling if you enjoy it.What is it that keeps some people on their bikes year after year, while others find theirs collecting dust after a while? I recently bumped into David Meade, a world-class triathlete, who shared with me the secret of his longevity in such a demanding sport. His four principles or rules apply whether you ride 50 or 400 km a week.

The principles are quite simple: enjoyment, consistency, honesty and sharing the success.

Rule number one: if you’re not enjoying it, ease up or take a break. Yes, it’s good for your health, your heart, your weight. But the most important thing is that you’re having fun. That enjoyment should flow over into other parts of your life. What you do to keep fit is not separate from your life but an integral part of it. If you’re enjoying it, you’ll keep at it.

Which brings us to rule two: be consistent in what you do. If that’s simply to get out twice a week then keep doing it. After a while it becomes part of your life and you miss it if you can’t get out on your regular ride. If you’ve set yourself a goal, be faithful in working towards it.

Some things will work better for you than others. You might find mornings are the best time to ride and a great way to start the day. On the other hand, the end of the day might be the only time work and family commitments allow time out. Some people can’t eat before riding, others can’t ride without a decent breakfast first. Whatever works for you, stick to it.

Rule number three: be honest with yourself. Did you strive to excel or was it a half-hearted effort? It doesn’t matter whether you’re preparing for an iron man event or this year’s Great Victorian Bike Ride or Bendigo By Bike. Striving for a goal requires some dedication and the ability to admit where you fall short. The other side of this is that if you have done well, pat yourself on the back.

And that brings us to the fourth rule: share your success. Individual effort and determination is definitely a big part of your achievements. But there are usually others who’ve stood by you and encouraged you and cheered you on. Sharing your success with them shares your enjoyment and achievement too. And that’s just what David was doing in sharing this with me.

See you on the road soon, God willing. Eddie Barkla

First published in the Bendigo Weekly Friday 10 November 2006

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