Have you ever signed up for a Women’s Cycling Challenge or Women’s Cycling Event and then just kind of asked yourself…”OK…now what?”
Maybe it is a particular mile marker on STRAVA that you signed up for by clicking “Join Challenge” and then immediately forgot about. I must admit, I have done this an embarrassing number of times. STRAVA challenges are great, but they don’t exactly demand that you take them seriously!
Or maybe it is something a little more involved, with a private Facebook group and leaderboard sign up, like the challenges we run here at Sascy Cycling. You can check out current challenges on our events page here!
We often have challenges running here at Sascy Cycling, and if you are a woman and can pedal a bike of any kind, indoors or outdoors, you are welcome to join us!
Or maybe you even signed up for a paid challenge, or a charity ride that you are fundraising for.
No matter what the reason, or how you signed up, YOU DID IT! YOU SIGNED UP!
Let me be the FIRST person to congratulate you! When you sign up for a challenge you are making a commitment to make you AND your cycling goals a priority.
But if you’re anything like me you are also thinking “OK, I signed up for this thing. NOW WHAT?”
Now I have to train for it. Now I have to DO it. More importantly, now I have to figure out HOW to train for it, and HOW TO DO THE THING!
I know that sometimes we get so overwhelmed with the how, and the burden of having to do it, that well, we quite frankly just DON’T do it.
At first the task, whatever it may be, can feel a little overwhelming. But with a little planning, and a little bit (OK, a LOT bit) of motivation, you can make that challenge doable and manageable!
In this article I will share with you some simple, actionable steps for how to tackle preparing, training for, and actually doing that Women’s Cycling Challenge or Event that you signed up for!
STEP #1: SET A GOAL
Sometimes this is kind of already done for you. If you sign up for a 50 mile charity ride 6 months from now, you know that you have to be able to ride 50 miles in 6 months. BOOM! Goal has been set!
I did my first charity ride back in 2019, and it was amazing! The last 10 miles or so were ROUGH, but because I trained for it I was able to get it done!
Other times it is a little more open ended. For example, for the Sascy Cycling Challenges we generally have our participants set their OWN goal. We give prizes for time on bike, elevation, and mileage, but it’s up to YOU to decide what you want those goals to be.
Maybe you want to ride more miles, at a higher elevation, and with more time on bike than anyone else in the challenge.
But, since you don’t actually know what everyone else is planning to do, that’s a bit open ended…and if you’re me? It’s NOT going to happen! There will always be someone who will ride harder, faster, longer, and higher than I will, so just chasing numbers blindly will not work for most of us.
Only YOU know what is reasonable for you. Maybe if you sign up for a challenge like the Sascy Cycling Challenge, you decide you want to ride 200 miles this month. Or you want to ride 4x per week this month. The idea is that the goal is YOURS, and yours alone, and the point is to push yourself, improve yourself, and make yourself stronger.
STEP #2: BREAK YOUR GOAL INTO MANAGEABLE PIECES
So this is super easy and straightforward to do, but so many of us don’t bother to do it! Once you have your goal, and you have your time frame, you need to divide that goal into manageable bits.
If you are doing a monthly challenge…
One of the easiest ways to do a monthly challenge, especially if it is your first challenge, is to just set you goal at riding x number of times per week for x number of minutes each ride.
You may say you want to ride 4-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes each ride for the whole month. That’s a great goal! And there is no math involved!
BUT, say you have a mileage goal for the month. You take your goal miles and divide by 4 to get your approximate number of miles per week. You then take that number and divide it by the number of times per week you want to ride, and now you know how many times a week you have to ride, and how long you have to ride each time in order to meet your goal.
Pro tip! If you use STRAVA, take a look at your previous months and see what your typical monthly number of miles is to help you figure out a mileage goal.
Here’s an example! Say you want to cycle 300 miles in a month. There are approximately 4 weeks in a month, so you divide by 4, and now you know you need to ride 75 miles per week. Decide how many times a week you can realistically ride…say 5 times, and then you now know you need approximately five, 15 mile rides per week to meet your goal!
If you are training for an event…
You need to ask yourself a few basic questions. How many weeks/months until your event? How many miles do you need to ride for the event? If you were to hop on your bike today and ride, how many miles would you be comfortable riding? How much elevation is in the ride you are going to be doing? Are you comfortable with that much climbing right now?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start to look at different training plans and programs to make sure that you are able to complete your event.
You will want to look at the weeks/months you have before the event, and start building up your endurance and your climbing so that the event is enough of a stretch for you to be a challenge, but not so difficult that you are unable to complete it.
STEP #3: SCHEDULE YOUR RIDES
Now that you have a plan, you have to actually put those rides in your calendar, make a commitment to yourself, and schedule them.
Know which days you are going to ride, and how long you are going to ride each day. Then write it down and block off that time in your calendar…either in hard copy or electronically.
Anticipate potential obstacles in advance and plan for them too! As a mom of a five-year-old who is dealing with remote learning AND remote teaching, there is always something that can potentially trip up my plans. Also, my husband and I like to stagger our rides so that we aren’t riding at the same time. This means that I almost always have a back-up plan/back-up time slot for each ride that I schedule.
Want more tips on planning and scheduling your rides? Check out my helpful article on planning your cycling workouts here!
STEP #4: FOLLOW THROUGH AND DO THE RIDE!
I know this almost goes without saying, but if you are anything like me…it doesn’t! This goes for each ride in a challenge, or if it’s an event…actually doing the event!
I have to actually MOTIVATE myself to do the ride. Sometimes I am all about it and this isn’t a problem, but other times I need a complete PEP TALK before I actually get on the bike.
Some days we just aren’t feeling it, and we need to remind ourselves of WHY we set these goals in the first place.
Yesterday was one of those days for me. It was a Monday, and Mondays are always tough. After a weekend of flexibility in fitting my rides in, I am back to a schedule and having to do a ride at a certain time.
I am telling you, I came up with just about every excuse in the book to avoid my ride…even the “well if I ride then I have to change out of this outfit, and I haven’t even been wearing it long enough for it to actually be dirty because I took so long to change out of my pajamas today” excuse.
It’s a lot harder to say “No” to a bike ride if I remember that the whole reason I am doing it is because I want to be strong, be able to keep up with my son, and live a long life so that I can be around for him for a very long time.
Reminding ourselves of our goals, and just how important they are, is so helpful in allowing us to really buckle down, get those rides in, and follow through with our goal.
Another great thing to do is check in with an accountability group or partner, like the Sascy Cycling Motivation and Accountability Group! I went into this group SEVERAL times yesterday to see what rides everyone else is doing, and I posted my intention to ride their earlier knowing that this would hold me accountable.
Need more tips? Check out my awesome article with 9 Motivation Tips for Cycling Indoors! Honestly these tips are good for outside riding too!
STEP #5: CELEBRATE THE VICTORIES…BIG AND SMALL!
Do a little happy dance each time you complete a ride, each and every step along the way.
I have so many little treats that I plan for myself throughout my quest to meet a cycling goal. Even my after ride recovery shake feels like a small little treat each time since I use unsweetened protein powder (this one!) and throw a little Ghirardelli hot cocoa mix into each one!
Another great way to celebrate is to promise yourself a new cycling kit, a new piece of equipment, or a special meal. One of the great things about cycling events is they often have free food, and EVEN DRINKS at stops along the way/after the ride!
Celebrating our victories, acknowledging them, and giving ourselves a nice little pat on the back for a job well done is SO important. We want to take the time and really relish in what we have accomplished, and not rush too quickly into the next challenge, or the next event. We want this to be FUN! It shouldn’t always feel like work.
So there you have it! 5 simple, straight-forward steps to take if you sign up for a Women’s Cycling Challenge or Event. What are YOUR tips when signing up for a challenge or event? Comment below and let us all know!
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