How to tap into the best version of yourself and get the most from every bike ride.
I recently went to a talk by life coach Bonnie Rasmussen from Rise on how to get the most out of taking part in a sport’s event. It was hosted by Lululemon and Bonnie focussed on running. I was particularly interested in what she told us about self-awareness, and here I have shared some of her ideas over to cycling. I hope you will find them inspiring.
When it comes to riding we all have our strengths and our weaknesses: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with some aspects of their riding skills. You may love riding downhill but get intimidated by climbs (or vice versa), a particular technical section may remind you of falling off, or you might just believe that you simply cant ride a trail, no matter how many skills sessions you’ve signed up for, nor how often your friends tell you it’s actually quite easy. If you are competing, you might believe you cant win, or that someone deserves to win more than you. Or you just be fighting the fear of coming last, or the often held but rarely admitted fear that no one will like you if you mess up.
A ride will always be unpredictable and can throw up challenges at any point (isn’t this one of the reasons why we love our bikes?). Knowing that you have resources within that you can tap into quickly and effectively can mean the difference between a pulling a great ride out of the bag when you feel challenged, and going home with your tail between your legs.
Increasing self-awareness enables you to use your mind, body and state (your feelings and mood) to your advantage. It’s not difficult, but you do have to practice if you want to be able to switch into a more positive mode effortlessly.
Make it a priority before you start the ride: you check your bike is ride-worthy so why not make sure your self-awareness is too.
So let’s break it down:
What you’re thinking affects your body: for example a funny thought will make you laugh whilst a phobia increases your heart rate). Focussing on positive, confident thoughts will benefit your physical performance and affirmations that you repeat as you ride can be really helpful. Here are a few to in inspire you:
I am strong
Fast and flowing
I can do this
Relax and breathe (one of my favourites)
I am nailing this
I deserve this (I used to use this one when my children were small and I felt guilty about exercising).
Please do share your any that work for you in the comment section below!
Adopt the posture of a strong, focussed and confident person – relax your arms, wrists and face, breathe and have a soft gaze – and you will ride like one. This is easier said than done, of course, when you’re heading for the edge of a huge, rooty drop-off – but it’s so effective that’s it worth persevering.
Feeling calm, light and focused is always going to be preferable – and more enjoyable – to feeling nervous and distracted from the task at hand. If it helps, visualise someone or something that personifies that state:
I tell myself to ride as if I was a very nonchalant Kate Moss – by which I mean self-contained, relaxed and not terribly bothered what anyone else thinks.
I am aware that this sounds a little unusual – but it works for me!
It’s also worth taking a moment to experience gratitude for the opportunity to ride, no matter how well you do. When all is said and done, being able to get out there and love the experience is what really matters.
Photo credit: Adele Mitchell.
My photo blog from the Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling team launch, which took place in Stoke on Trent last week at Staffordshire University.
I grew up in Stoke – which is also where team sponsors Matrix Fitness are based – so it was great to go back there for the day, meet the riders from Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling and hear about the team’s new professional status as a UCI women’s cycling team: an incredible achievement which will allow them to race against the biggest teams in the world this year. It was good to see familiar faces including Chris Garrison from Trek and Polly Farrington from Vulpine – both brands are amongst the team’s sponsors – and Hannah Ustell from Total Women’s Cycling, who I occasionally write for. I also spent much of the day building up the courage to ask for a selfie with special guest and cycling legend Jens Voigt (to cut a long Jens story short, he’s very nice, has incredibly long legs…and I got the selfie*).
But back to the launch, where the team of eleven Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling riders – from superstar Olympian, World and European champion Laura Trott to Development rider 17-year old Lucy Shaw – were the real stars of the day. They were joined by sponsors, the team’s families, local cycling organisations and a LOT of media. It was amazing to see so much support for this team and women’s cycling, and I can’t wait to track their progress through the season.
Below are some of my pictures from the day.
*And here it is :0)