9 Ways for Cyclists to Get Outside Their Comfort Zone


Cyclists are creatures of habit. We love routines, we love training consistently and we love riding our go-to routes time and time again. Days of the same ol’ same ol’ can turn into weeks, weeks turn into seasons, and before you know it, you’ve found yourself in somewhat of a cycling rut, where things feel too familiar and you start to lose the spark of joy that attracted you to the sport in the first place.

Sure, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point—cycling is all about staying in shape and having fun—and luckily, it’s just about one of the most versatile sports out there. With last year in the rear-view mirror and the new one charging full gas into the future, what’s next? What are some foolproof ways to mix things up on the bike, all while hitting training and fitness goals?

From setting new climbing milestones to learning bike maintenance, we gathered nine ways to help you get outside your comfort zone on the bike this year.

Climbing Challenge

You’ve no doubt set mileage goals for yourself in previous years (more on this, below), but why not shoot for an elevation goal in 2020? Of course, this will be easier to accomplish for those of us with access to long, stained climbs in our surrounding area, but compare your total elevation gain from last year and see what’s feasible. To make it more fun, Mount Everest stands at 29,029 feet above sea level. How many “Mount Everests” can you climb this year?

Work on Your Bike Handling Skills

There’s a big difference between a cyclist who’s in shape and a well-rounded cyclist. It’s always a good idea to work on your fitness, but also focusing on your bike handling skills can help boost efficiency and keep you safe in sketchy situations. For some do-anywhere drills (did someone say bunny hops?) to help improve your bike handling, click here.

Join a Faster Group Ride

Greg LeMond said it best: “It never gets easier, you just go faster.” If you’re starting to feel too comfortable on your weekend group rides, consider bumping up to a faster group. Not only will you gain more fitness by riding with faster people, but you’ll also learn from their collective years of knowledge and experience. Before you make the jump, consider these 10 group ride etiquette tips for cyclists.

Ride Without Strava

We mentioned this same idea in our “9 Ways for Runners to Get Outside Their Comfort Zone This Year” article, but get back to basics in 2020 and enjoy a couple rides a month without any technology. Leave your cycling computer at home, throw your leg over your saddle and head out into the great unknown. This will help you learn to train and ride by feel, and it’s surprisingly liberating knowing you won’t have a cyber audience to impress when you get home.

Learn Basic Bike Maintenance

Hopefully by now you know how to change a punctured tube and other quick roadside fixes (if not, start here), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’re not saying you should build an entire bike from the ground up, but knowing how to adjust brakes, front and rear derailleurs and other simple bike maintenance tweaks are important skills in any cyclist’s arsenal. Not only will this save you money in the long-term, but it will also help keep your bike in tip top condition for miles to come. Start with these five simple tips to master DIY bike repair.

Get Off-Road

We’re looking at you, roadies. While we’re big fans of road cycling, that’s just one small part of the sport. The gravel, cyclocross and mountain biking communities have exploded in popularity lately, and it’s no surprise. Their laidback approach to cycling is attractive, there’s no cars and traffic to worry about, and it can be much more scenic than being limited to pavement. Not convinced? Here are seven reasons to stow your road bike and pick up gravel riding.

Get a Bike Fit

Spoiler alert: Not all bicycles fit the same. Even if you have the correct size frame, there’s a huge different in comfort, efficiency and aerodynamics with just a centimeter tweak here and there. And if you’re going to be on a bicycle for hours on end, you might as well be comfortable while you do it.

A bike fit by a professional bike fitter is a worthwhile investment—they’ll likely adjust your saddle height, swap out your stem, set your cleat position and more. For a complete breakdown of what to expect during a bike fit, click here.

Train Indoors

Head inside to get outside your comfort zone in 2020! This might sound counterintuitive, but riding indoors gives you the ultimate control of a training session (you don’t have to deal with factors like traffic, stoplights, wind, etc.). Tools like Zwift make it interactive, all while allowing you to follow strict interval workouts for an effective workout. It’s not the only indoor workout tool out there—you can go old-school with just a stopwatch and some rollers—but it’s one of our favorite ways to suffer indoors. Click here for a cyclist’s guide to training with Zwift.

Mileage Goal

Predictable, we know—but setting a mileage goal is a surefire way to get outside your comfort zone in 2020. By setting a lofty, yet attainable goal, you’ll ensure you’ll be riding regularly throughout the year. This can be a total mileage goal, such as “I’d like to ride 5,000 miles this year,” or a mileage goal in terms of miles per session (i.e. complete your first century ride). Whatever it is, create an action plan, wear a helmet and enjoy!

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