Here's how to defeat 12 bad cycling habits that are slowing you down.
Bad Habit 1:
I scramble to get ready, which cuts into my riding.
Devote part of your closet or dresser to riding gear. No space? Donate to charity anything you haven't worn in a year. Then designate a spot for everything: a shelf for jerseys, a basket for shorts, a rack for shoes. Don't forget sunglasses and chamois cream. Do the same in the kitchen for water bottles and energy food. To keep the system viable, be a little anal: When you get back from a ride, return regular items--shoes, gloves, and so on--to their spots. Throw the laundry in the wash. You'll be set for next time.
Find out how to lose weight fast, while riding your bike with the Bicycling book Ride Your Way Lean.
Bad Habit 2:
I don't make time to ride.
Do small things to put yourself in a better position to ride regularly.
Pick a time to ride and stick to it. If darkness or weather interferes, set up the trainer. And then recruit a friend. Numerous studies demonstrate that it's harder to bail on a workout if someone's counting on you to show. But also, be open to spontaneity. If you get a spare half an hour, get on your bike; that's 30 minutes you weren't riding before. Finally, make sure you have a goal you're working toward. A coach can help by offering specific workouts that fit your time window. As you improve, a positive-feedback motivation loop kicks in and you'll want to ride more.
Speed Bonus: Learn how to fly up hills with this easy-to-follow plan.
Bad Habit 3:
I avoid intimidating group rides.
Find easy, nonthreatening ways to build pack skills.
Here are a few: Work with a buddy on trading pulls, riding closely side by side, and other basics. Not enough structure? Take a class. Many of the nation's 24 velodromes offer beginner sessions. The tips you'll learn translate to the road. Go to BICYCLING.com/velodromes for a list of tracks. Similarly, mountain biking and cyclocross improve balance and bike-handling techniques that will leave you more confident in a pack. Finally, find a shop ride with a no-drop policy.
Practice Plan: Follow these 9 Paceline Rules and you're group comfort level will soar.
Bad Habit 4:
I slack off on maintenance, and my bike keeps breaking.
Learn to care for your bike.
"It's not you, it's me." You know that classic breakup line? This really is you, and it's time to mend your ways. Many shops teach maintenance classes, and step-by-step books like Bicycling's just-revised Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair offer clear, illustrated instructions.
Bad Habit 5:
I binge after rides.
Make a plan.
Here's the problem: You not only overeat, you also sabotage your recovery by making lousy choices for that all-important refueling window. "A key to a successful diet," says Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, of the American Dietetic Association, "is thinking, Where is my next meal coming from? Maybe Sunday becomes a cooking day, and you spend a few hours making meals for the week and prepackaging them." Then if you roll home hungry, there's something healthy, and the right size, waiting.
Video: Stock your kitchen with the right fresh and frozen foods and eat right after every ride.
Bad Habit 6:
I don't address aches and pains, which limits my riding.