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Now is the perfect time of year to plan what kind of rides and major events you’ll get up to this season. Summer and prime cycling season may seem like a long way off into the future, but they will be here before you know it.

Brainstorm Possible Goals

Set aside some time to think about your cycling goals for 2018. Sit down with a pen and a blank piece of paper and brainstorm goals, writing them down as they occur to you and without judgement. Ask yourself, “What rides, races or events would I like to do? When? Where?.

Maybe you want to complete your first ride of some particular distance or set a personal best time on a particular route? Perhaps there is some enticing event or race you’ve always thought about doing but have never previously prioritized? Or maybe you want to go tour some famous Alpine passes while on vacation in Italy or France?

Evaluate and Decide Your Goals

After your brainstorming session, go back through them with a more critical mind. Consider your time and monetary resources as well as other life or family commitments. Which goals are realistic for this season? Which ones should you save for another year? Of the ones you want to do and can do, which are the highest priority?

Create a Schedule

Now that you’ve figured out what you want to do, it’s time to figure out when. If your goal is to do a particular event, you already know when. For example, if you’ve chosen to take a bike touring vacation in conjunction with the Tour de France, you know you’ve got to be in shape by July.

But if you’ve picked goals that don’t occur at a set time, figure out when is the best time based on the local climate and your own personal schedule. Let’s say, for instance, that you only have time to ride on weekdays after work – maybe you pick a late spring or summer goal instead of an early spring goal? Then you’ll have time to ramp up your training after work as the days get longer and longer so that you’ll be in better shape to achieve your goal.

Or maybe you have a family vacation to the beach already scheduled for August, which means no training then and that you’d better schedule your cycling goal events ahead of that time off the bike.

Develop Your Plan

If you’ve picked multiple goals, determine the order in which you’ll undertake them. The idea to have each goal build on the previous goal, so that you’re gradually ramping up your cycling distance and intensity to prevent overuse injuries that often come from trying to do too much too fast. For example, you might plan your first 100km ride a few weeks or a month or two ahead of your first 200km ride. Or you might plan for some back-to-back Friday/Saturday/Sunday rides to prepare for a week-long bike tour.

Leverage your fitness from early season goals to carry through to late season goals. Building form is harder than maintaining form. Just make sure that you don’t end up too physically or psychologically burned out by the time your late season goals finally roll around.

Get Help If Needed

Some goals are relatively bigger than others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in achieving them. Perhaps you need a new or different kind of bike or other gear? Go talk to your local shop to get just the right equipment. Or perhaps you need someone to help you figure out how to safely increase your mileage and intensity? Hire a certified cycling coach to create a customized training program.

Tell Someone About Your Plan

Studies show that if you share your goals with a friend or family member, you’re much more likely to achieve them. It’s all about accountability. Recruit those who care about you to offer moral support throughout your process of chasing those goals. Ask them to regularly check in with you and see how you’re progressing – their interest can help motivate you to stay on track or get back on track as needed.

Mentally Prepare

A big part of achieving a goal is believing that you can do it. If you think you can do something, you are more likely to do it. In the lead up to your goals, envision yourself meeting each one and even overcoming possible obstacles along the way. If you’ve already dealt with a challenge ahead of time in your mind, you’ll be more prepared should it actually occur.

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