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How do you motivate yourself to ride?

by Richard Masoner

Sean asks an excellent question:

How do we keep ourselves motivated when it’s cold and wet outside and the days are short?

What do you do to stay motivated to cycle to and from work, day in and day out?

Sioux gave her suggestion: she thinks of every ride as an adventure.

So how about it? How do you stay motivated to ride when riding conditions are less than ideal?

 
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38 Responses to “How do you motivate yourself to ride?”

  1. Rob D says:

    I leave my truck parked at the office so no matter what the weather looks like I have to ride my bike to work… worst case scenario I leave the bike at home and walk with an umbrella instead.

  2. schep says:

    I guess I’m motivated by not owning a car and needing to get to work.

  3. StefaninOttawa says:

    @schep yeah, that usually works for me too.

    Generally though, I just think about how much more I enjoy being on my bike than I do being at work. Of course, on nice days you run into the problem of having difficulty getting off your bike when you do get to work…

  4. Tony Bullard says:

    Because even biking in the rain is better than driving in traffic.

    I say that, but I totally drove in today.

  5. Matt@TMW says:

    Sell your car and you’ll find the desire to ride goes up. Or your desire to go anywhere goes down. Still, better out and riding than not.

  6. siouxgeonz says:

    I remember when I had the car, and I’d drive in… and see cyclists and yearn… my legs would almost twitch in sympathy and I would feel like a bloated flaccid corpulence in a huge spewing death machine. It surprised me; I’ve *not* been in the “four wheels bad, two wheels good” camp. It just seemed totally *wrong* for me. I suppose I was strongly influenced by environmentalists when I was too young to fight it off and it comes out now…

  7. John says:

    Simple. I have no car. My choices are ride a bike or walk to work. It’s 4.2 miles. Staying home isn’t an option. I’m simply too busy at work and if I stop showing up I’ll get fired and I’ll lose my house and I’ll have to sleep under the bridge and will have to not just ride my bike in cold, wet weather but LIVE in cold wet weather. So my < 20 minutes each way ride really isn’t so bad.

  8. Scott R says:

    I work in downtown Omaha and must either pay $70 a month to park in the garage, or $3 a day and under to park a half mile away and walk.

    I don’t like walking from the distant parking spot in my office clothes in the cold Nebraska Winter, and would rather cycle in (toasty warm, I might add) and get the rock star parking at the front door racks.

    Summary: it’s fun, it saves money, and I’m getting free exercise and the sense of doing something under my own power.

  9. Michael says:

    The thing that modivates me the most is … the sexy legs one gets! :-)

  10. Michael says:

    also, I love the fact when cars pass you, then you pass them at the traffic jam. *hehehe*

  11. Bob says:

    Pure stubborness I guess. Even on the days where maybe I don’t look forward to leaving the house and getting on the bike by the time I’ve even gone half a mile that reluctance has evaporated.

  12. anakcu says:

    I log my miles on Activebody.org. They currently have a Winter Cycling Challenge so you can see how you are doing relative to the 100 or so other cyclists that log their mileage. If you don’t bike for a couple days you will drop pretty quickly in the ranking. The other motivation when it is cold, wet and nasty is that SUV drivers recognize themselves as the girly men they are when they see you braving the elements.

  13. Paul in Minneapolis says:

    This is my forth winter biking to work, stores and everywhere. Still I suffer from depression, some time almost crippling. I know that after the first 100 feet everything changes and my depression drifts away. There is a bus stop right in front of where I work and my bike always rides free, but that is not medicine and cost $2.25 for me to ride. In short, it just makes me feel … like a good drug should.

    There was a heat wave this morning, 15f and I over dressed again”. : /

    My newest bike, I did’t put a speedo on it. People say “biking takes too much time”, naaa..I don’t care if I ride slow or futher, sometimes I just don’t want it to end. Remembering that is my biggest motivation.

  14. Noah says:

    I posted my 10 tips a few months ago, and some of those are still working nicely for me.

  15. jim says:

    eight years of no car it’s just a fact of life like driving was the only thing that has changed is the amount of time it takes to get to work motivation is not an issue I just do it. on another note I like riding rain snow sleet it’s all good.

  16. Andy says:

    Like some others here, getting to work is my biggest motivation. For me, bike commuting is the best exercise, because it’s the hardest one to avoid.

  17. Mike says:

    I have an old iPod shuffle in a waterproof case and small battery powered speakers on my bike. It’s virtually the only opportunity I have to listen to podcasts.

  18. lauren says:

    my commute is about 9 miles each way, and i can usually get to work faster, then if i drive through gridlocked traffic.

    and thankfully, where i work, we all ride to work. so i feel guilty if i sometimes don’t ride. my own internal peer pressure works great for motivation.

  19. Shawn says:

    Exercise! My family history requires me to exercise regularly. This is the only thing that I can stick with. Unfortunately, I am still not a 5 day a week rider. I did ride Mon and Tues. First time for me in 12f cold. No prob though!

  20. Craig says:

    The world depends on it.

  21. cyclepete says:

    I’m so use to bicycling to work that, even though I do have a car available, it normally doesn’t occur to me to use a car.

    There are rare occasions that the roads are not passable by bicycle but still drivable by car. Generally due to unplowed snow that is a little deep for my bike tires but still passable by car.

    Those days always throw me for a loop. I get out on my bicycle, realize it’s not very safe, bike back to my house, move the stuff out of my pannier into a bag, locate my car keys, scrap the ice/snow off the car, etc. A royal pain.

  22. Sean says:

    I actually made it a point to tell a bunch of people that I would ride in today. It worked pretty well. I figured that if any of them asked me about it later, I wouldn’t want to say that I wimped out.

    Twice in the past, I’ve given up my car in favor of bike and that also works. However, riding through a hailstorm w/o rain gear (which happened once) isn’t the most pleasant way to commute home. But I do admit that I put in way more miles during my car-free days than I do now.

  23. Jon Grinder says:

    I have made a very public goal of riding to work for 500 work days in a row. I am currently at 351.

    People at work (and elsewhere) often ask me how many days I have under my belt, and I don’t want to have to admit I opted out.

    So, two days of riding with the flu, last week…not pleasant, but doable. Driving the car…not an option.

  24. Le ZBoy says:

    Some of my reasons have been covered already but my motivation for riding is driving.
    Get out once on a spitting, rainy, rage-filled freeway and feel your blood pumping in your temples at every minor indiscretion.
    Then compare it to the exercise and sense of adventure on that back road or trail where the only thing pumping is your legs.
    It is liberating.

  25. Sean says:

    @Jon That’s an awesome goal! I’m inspired!

  26. Johnny says:

    I’m a big kid, and riding is fun. It’s more like I’d have to motivate myself NOT to ride. :)

  27. Quinn says:

    1. Purposely selling my car, not buying another.

    2. Purposely living on the other side of town from work.

    3. The local bus system SUX!

  28. scarecrow says:

    Never take the same exact route twice.

    I always find some way to vary the route; detour on side streets, sidewalk riding if no pedestrians, cutting through woods or public property.
    This only works if you give yourself extra time every day, and fat tires makes it more fun. It’s kinda like you’re ten years old again exploring the neighborhood.

  29. All-Weather-Heather says:

    Well… I have to live up to my name with my coworkers. Also my electric bike makes the 20 mile commute easier. I’ve learned that the hardest part of the ride is putting on the rain gear, once I’m on the bike…I don’t want to get off. Reference the comment above about the “Girlie Men in their SUVs.”

    Yes…I rode yesterday in 34 degree pouring rain. I was hoping it would ice over so I could test out my new stud tires. Fortuneately, most of my ride is not in traffic but a beautiful nature trail.

  30. Cool Jimmy says:

    It’s been a very cold winter up here in Edmonton, Canada. I commute to work 5 days a week and only missed one day, though the temps been hovering around -25C and as cold as -35C with the wind chill.

    It’s a great workout, as the snow makes it tougher to pedal, and the bike freezes up, making it all seem like riding uphill.

    There’s a real feeling of accomplishment, and it really is an adventure, scouting for the right lines to take on the road (to avoid bad ice/ruts,snow over ice) and working to stay upright on the trails. It’s easy to get motivated – I love it!

  31. Tom says:

    Do you people not have busses? My choice is *never* between driving and riding, I *loathe* driving and don’t own a car I can take (wife needs it at home for stuff).

    But the bus is warm and toasty, comes right by my house, and for nine miles I can read a book, listen to my iPod, see acquaintances.

    The bike… I would need to pedal the bike through the wind and rain, and through the dark, make sure the light is charged up for the trip home, strip off wet sweaty clothes in a bathroom stall at work and then put them on again at the end of the day, face the hills at either end of the commute, start out cold then get hot up the hills.

    Frankly, it’s HARD to get on the bike these days. The bus is *nice* !!

  32. jim says:

    tom you really need to think about this now the buss it’s a crutch just a crutch, and no I don’t have a bus I live in a rural aria without a bus system within 40 miles not an option 13 mile commute no problem hills Ozark mountains rain carey 2 sets of riding cloths and one set of work cloths problem solved stay dry and have fun.

  33. chunkymonkeybiker says:

    After I ride to work I see my colleagues and can’t help but think that I have a “secret life” they will never understand.

  34. blitt says:

    i ride around all day in chicago (i’m a dogwalker), and every year, i find it harder to stay motivated in the winter. it’s fun getting the bike(s) ready with a tune-up, fenders on, etc, but about this time of year i really start to drag. i’ve found that multiple websites, like this one, are nice to check in the mornings while i have my coffee, just to sort of remind myself that there’s SO many people also doing it, enjoying it, and discussing it. it helps get the blood flowing, and reminds me that bikes are fun, and when they cease to be fun, it’s often not the bike, or the weather, it’s usually one’s attitude/approach. once i decompress a bit, i find that stress begets stress, and if i can just take a step back, relax a bit and ride, it gets me back to why i’m riding a bike each day, year-round, all over.

    (easier said than done some days, i realize)

  35. Only owning one car. Even if I didn’t want to ride, on days my wife needs the car I just don’t have a choice. I never regret it once I am riding, but some days getting out the door is harder the others.

  36. Steelisreal4130 says:

    my car broke down and i didn’t fix it. i might have it looked at eventually, but for now its pushing on peddles for me!

  37. michaelsicurello says:

    Pedalocity: ped-al-oc-it-y – noun, adjective, verb.

    1. the effect of pedaling.
    2. a euphoric state of being.
    3. the rate at which pedaling reduces one’s carbon footprint.
    4. generating energy by expending energy.

    Article here:

    http://wellonearth.com/ws/articles/CURRENT/pedalocity.html

    Michael

  38. Dave says:

    The extreme weather days are the ones that are automatically motivating to me. For instance, tomorrow is supposed to be -20F with wind chills of -35F or lower here. I sense a challenge! Insane? Perhaps a little, but I enjoy powering my own motating machine through the snow and ice (thank you Kenda Klondikes). Besides, driving my slip-sliding pickup just ruins my mood. I’d rather make tracks in the snow with my bicycle. I’ve ridden all winter so far except 1 day recently when I thought my bike route wasn’t safe (it would’ve been – doh!). Enjoy the ride.

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