5 Tips to Consider When Setting Cycling Goals

Drafting

I would also avoid setting goals which require a lot of drafting off other riders to achieve. Yes, it is a universally acknowledged accomplishment to complete a century in under five hours (20 mph average speed). But, if you end up sitting on someone else's wheel and drafting for 90+ miles, what have you really accomplished?

Power Meters

So what are some valid goals?

These days, we bikers are fortunate to have a number of measurement devices available for tracking our performance. From heart rate monitors to power meters, these hi-tech instruments are perfect tools for setting goals. The nice thing about power meter measurements is that they aren't affected by environmental factors.

For example, if you set a goal of doing your local 10-mile time trial (TT) in 25 minutes and if the wind is particularly strong the day when you are trying to reach that goal you might be out of luck. However, if you set the goal of averaging 250 watts of power over the 10-mile distance, even though your time may be affected by strong winds, the power you produced during the effort is not. You might be going slower than on a windless day, but you might just be putting out more power and reaching your goal.

More: Evaluate Your Cycling Season with 5 Simple Questions

Group Rides

Having said all that, many of us do use organized rides as part of our goal setting. If your goal is just to finish then drafting and relying on others is not a critical element. Ride within yourself and resist the temptation to go out too quickly just so you can hang with the fast riders. Going out too fast could seriously jeopardize all of your hard work and sacrifices if you blow up and can't finish.

If your goal is to finish an organized ride in a specific time, your first concern has to be safety. Please obey all the rules of the event. Running red lights to make up time is poor form. If you have to draft to go fast enough to meet your goal's time please be careful to ride within yourself and don't push too hard. Being tired and lacking concentration are two factors that can cause crashes.

Once you have met your goal it is time to reset the meter and establish a new goal. It is a bit of an endless process, but if you set reasonable goals your enjoyment of the sport will continue to grow.

More: How to Keep Your Cycling Motivation High

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About the Author

Bruce Hildenbrand

Bruce Hildenbrand's writings have appeared in Outside, Bicycling, Cycle Sport, VeloNews and a host of other cycling and outdoor-related magazines and websites. His assignments have taken him to such prestigious events as the Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain, Tour of Switzerland, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, the World Road Championships, the World Track Championships and the World CycloCross Championships.
Bruce Hildenbrand's writings have appeared in Outside, Bicycling, Cycle Sport, VeloNews and a host of other cycling and outdoor-related magazines and websites. His assignments have taken him to such prestigious events as the Tour de France, Tour of Italy, Tour of Spain, Tour of Switzerland, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, the World Road Championships, the World Track Championships and the World CycloCross Championships.

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