Set goals for your next bike tour

My next bike tour will be a quick weekend getaway – nothing too fancy or too far, but a tried and true rout on the C+O Canal towpath from DC to Harpers Ferry, WV and back. As I continue to slim down and tune up for the big cross-country ride this summer, I’m using these smaller rides for setting goals. Here’s some tips on setting goals for your next bike tour…

Make your goals realistic

One of my goals is to try to make better time – I tend to average about 10 mph on the C+O, but I think I can do better. I can certainly average 15 mph on a flat paved surface, but is it realistic to assume I can do the same on the bumpy, knobby, rooty surface of the C+O? No way. Rule number 1 – if you want your goals to mean something, make sure they’re realistic. My goal is to average between 11 and 12 mph while in the saddle on this trip, on this surface.

Make your goals measurable

Some people set goals that are a bit touchy-feely… “I want to have a good time.” I don’t think that’s a terrible goal, but on a bike tour (nod along with me if you’re feeling me here) there are moments of high highs, and sheer, detestable, awful lows. But did ya have fun? From a goal-setting perspective, I like things I can measure and compare to avoid these subjective questions. I’d like to average 11 mph, not just go faster. I’d like to have zero flats. You see, everything has a number in some way.

Test new gear and new ideas

On a shorter trip, my goal-setting might be less measurable and more about changing my set-up or even techniques. This trip features an entirely new set of tires (thanks GAP!) so I want to see how they feel. Even though it’s a bit more subjective, I can still find a way for measuring and setting goals – what’s the ideal tire pressure on a surface like this? A short ride can help me refine the right answer, and then I can use that towards goal setting for this trip, or maybe help achieve a later goal.

Don’t let setting goals dominate your bike tour

This is still supposed to be fun – if you set goals like achieving a certain distance, but you’re cooked after a long hot ride, it’s more than ok to bail on that goal. It’s something to shoot for, not a measure of success or failure. You’ll get em next time killer…

Reward yourself

I mentioned a few months ago that I’m trying to shed some weight before the big ride. I’m happy to say I’m down 30 lbs since that post. Now, I still have more weight to lose before I achieve my overall goal, but I’ve already decided I can reward myself with a “day off” my insanely regimented eating and tracking regime once I get below 10 lbs to go. You better believe that day off reward is a motivator for me, even though it’s well before I achieve the ultimate goal. Do the same… make sure you reward yourself for meeting mileposts (literally, perhaps?) on your tune-up rides!

photo courtesy of Vik Approved on Flickr (cc) Heading uphill from Elkford to Elk Pass and Alberta.