New Year
New Goals

Even the most casual of cyclists will be familiar with the concept of setting goals as a means of improving their overall performance.

Even the most casual of cyclists will be familiar with the concept of setting goals as a means of improving their overall performance. With the New Year just behind us, many of us will have set ourselves some targets for the year ahead.

We once again sat down with Chris Opie and Lewis Bradley to get their respective takes on what setting performance goals should look like and how you can go about achieving them.

Be Realistic

Many of us fall at the first hurdle, often this is due to setting a target that was too ambitious. You need to think about what you want and be realistic about how long it is going to take you to get there. Setting yourself up with unrealistic expectations is setting yourself up to fail. This can lead to a lack of motivation and self-belief further down the line.

Lewis was keen to suggest that enjoying the process and not focusing too much on the final goal can be equally rewarding.

“You’ve got to embrace it [the experience] and get the most out of it, not just the goal because this will help give you a better overall sensation of how the day went”.

This is something that can be very important for young people that are just starting their cycling adventure. Putting too much pressure on yourself can impact your long-term enjoyment of the sport.

“As a young person it is all about getting experience and working on those skills as you build towards what you really want [to achieve]” said Lewis.

Be Specific

When it comes to the principles of training, specificity is the most important aspect of setting targets.

Your overall aim may be ‘to be a better rider’ but with such a generalisation it is hard to quantify when this has been accomplished. So, you need to break down this goal into smaller, more attainable chunks.

An example of this could be that you want to be able to ride up your local hill in less than 10 minutes within the next three months. This is a defined objective with a time scale attached. This ‘breaking down’ process can help make a goal feel less daunting as well as giving you a sense of achievement whenever you tick off an objective.

Once you’ve managed the 10 minutes the next step perhaps would be to do it in five minutes within the next six months. Each step ticked off is leading you to your overall goal of ‘being a better rider.

While it may sound simple, the more time spent out on your bike the better. As by spending more time on two wheels you will improve your cardiovascular and muscular endurance which will be beneficial when working towards a specific goal.  

As a professional Chris had very specific objectives that he set for himself and believes that this helped him succeed.

“Having [specific] performance goals are very important if you want to train properly and know your benchmarks”.

Once you know what your base level of ability is, you can build towards a larger goal in the future. Lewis did this by setting himself the aim of finishing an IronMan triathlon event with the help of his Lapierre road bike in less than 13 hours last year.

“I finished IronMan Wales in 12 hours 21 minutes after having a specific goal in mind” he stated.

Numbers aren't Everything

Cycling has a long history when it comes to measuring ‘numbers’ that often relate to power output or distances covered. Recording this data can be a good way to measure your overall progress but it isn’t the best way of setting achievable goals.

During his time as a coach, Chris was always keen to encourage his students to focus on the wider scope of their abilities rather than become obsessed with hitting number-based markers.

“Numbers are fine to an extent, but they aren’t the full picture. Cycling isn’t a one-dimension sport, it’s more about being technically and tactically good [as a rider]”.

Becoming too focused on achieving predetermined numbers can take away the enjoyment of cycling and is one of the major reasons why some professionals can become burnt out or disillusioned with the sport during their racing days.

Patience is Crucial

Patience is essential when it comes to training. One of the hardest things about setting long-term objectives can be that your progression may not always be visible to yourself. This can sometimes be disheartening and the urge to quit creep in. However, the key is to trust the process. Put in the hard work and you will reap the rewards.

“It can be hard to get out there and train every day, but [doing it] will bring you closer to achieving your goal. Doing something is better than nothing”.

Whilst setting yearly goals is a great stepping stone towards achieving long-term career aspirations, it can take a while to get where you want to be. For Lewis, this journey has been an enjoyable one.

“It’s been a 10 year process of meeting people and embracing events, not just looking at results”.

By having this level of patience Lewis has been able to take an occasional step away from his long-term goals and focus on the enjoyment side of cycling. Patience like this is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people and it can take time to teach yourself to relax occasionally.

Whatever method you choose to help you set and achieve your objectives this year, hopefully some of the things we have discussed today will prove helpful.  

As always our thanks go to both Chris and Lewis for their invaluable help with this piece.

Bike Comparison (0)

Add another bike to the compare tool to enable a comparison. You can compare up to 3 bikes.
Compare bikes