Look on the bright side of your bicycle

Cyclist with mountains in the backgroundPowerful thinking: simply focusing on the positives improves your performance and safety. Photo http://www.pedbikeimages.org Annie Lux

Once you get on a bike it seems inevitable that you want to improve your fitness or tackle a big public ride. Almost as inevitable are the days when it seems as though you’re getting nowhere.

Don’t despair – that’s the secret. Your frame of mind is a major part of achieving any goal. Look on the gloomy side and everything seems to go wrong from there. You feel bad, you don’t perform as well, you make mistakes.

It might seem terribly simplistic, but positive thinking really can make a difference. In the language of sports psychology it’s called visualisation.

Visualisation is based on the notion that your cental nervous system doesn’t differentiate between real and imagined events. Think back to the last time you woke from a nightmare – your body was reacting as though the situation was real. Many athletes and even musicians use the technique as part of their training to improve their performance.

Even if you haven’t a competitive bone in your body, looking on the bright side – visualising a positive performance if you like – can make getting around on your bike easier and much more enjoyable.

Never mind if there’s a blustery head wind. Isn’t it great you have time to yourself to spend outdoors? Raining when you need to ride home? Great opportunity to practise wet weather handling skills and what a good thing – we need the rain. Blue sky and sunshine? Well isn’t that just perfect weather to enjoy a bike ride?

In spite of your best efforts to be positive it can still seem you’re getting no closer to your goal. That’s when it’s time to take your eyes off the goal briefly and look behind you.

It’s so easy to forget how far you’ve come when you’re looking forward all the time. Remember that hill you used to have to walk up? Or that it used to take you 10 minutes longer to ride to work? Or that when you started 10 km was a marathon effort and now you’re happily riding 50?

Pat yourself on the back. Congratulations. You mightn’t have reached the goal you’ve set yourself yet, but you’re definitely making progress towards it. Celebrating your achievements will help you maintain a positive frame of mind and that will get you to your goal a lot faster.

Would you be out here if you didn’t love cycling? Remember that if things start looking a bit gloomy.

See you on the road soon, God willing.

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