New Year's Resolutions to make you and your bike happier

New Year's Resolutions to make you and your bike happier

by Karen Miltner

cyclist on a road with 2024

New Year’s resolutions. Some people love them, others hate them, many are indifferent. I’ve spent time in all three camps, but an article I saw this week in the Washington Post gave me reason to lean into the “love ’em” side again.

According to a 2019 You Gov survey cited in the article, 40% of those surveyed make New Year’s resolutions. Of that 40%, 16% actually carry through on all their resolutions. Another 44% were able to see through some of those resolutions. In my book, those numbers – especially the latter -- are inspiring. Holding on to at least a portion of one’s goals is fantastic, and celebrating those successes means you’re not a slave to all-or-nothing thinking.  

If biking is on your to do list for 2024, setting some goals, or resolutions, could help. If you’re still drafting ideas, we’ve started a list to inspire you. We also have a few pointers to help you choose your resolutions and tips to keep you motivated for the entire year.  

Boost cycling safety

  • Being a safe cyclist will save your life, and/or someone else’s. There are many ways to improve your safety on two wheels:
  • Wearing a helmet every time you get on the bike.
  • Outfit your bicycle with front and rear lights.
  • Wear brightly colored jerseys and jackets.
  • Use a rear view mirror.
  • Make sure your bike has been maintained properly.
  • Bone up on bicycle safety rules and habits.

If you aren’t already doing all of the above, then make 2024 the year that you do. Invest in headlights and tail lights. Buy a reflective vest or jacket. Take your bike to the shop for a professional tune-up or learn how to do it yourself. Sign up for an online safety class or watch some videos. The League of American Bicyclists has some resources for finding a safety instruction class or video.

Pedal and pay it forward

For those of us who love to ride, bicycling has given us so many gifts: fitness, relaxation, travel, joy, friendships, freedom. Devoting a little time to giving back to others will make your world and someone else’s bigger and better. Some ideas:  

  • Volunteer at a cycling charity fundraiser.
  • Donate money or bicycle equipment to a community organization that could use them.
  • Invite a friend, neighbor or family member to go biking with you.
  • Offer to teach a nephew, grandchild or neighbor’s kid how to ride.
  • Support a local bicycle advocacy organization. 
  • Contact politicians in your area about supporting local biking policies, projects and infrastructure.
  • Take part in national events such as National Bike to Work Day and National Bike to School Day.

Plan a biking vacation

Of course, WomanTours can help you with this one. We still have openings on many of our 2024 tours. But we also encourage  you to travel by bike on your own. Maybe it’s an overnight bike camping trip to a nearby state park. Or you and some friends could do your own weekend getaway. Bike travel is so much fun!

Join a bike club

Many cities have bike clubs or organizations that welcome riders of all stripes. Some bike shops also offer community rides. Taking advantage of these groups will help you make new friends, learn new cycling routes and boost your fitness and social network.

Show your bike some love

You don’t have to be an ace mechanic to keep your wheels in top working order (though if you want to, by all means, get geeky). These simple habits go a long way to keeping your bike in shape:

  • Clean your bike regularly. Getting rid of salt, grime, mud and moisture before they do damage on components will save time and money in the long run.
  • Keep the tires inflated, keep your chain lubed and check your brakes and gears to make sure they are working properly before each ride.

Winter is no excuse

If you live somewhere that’s cold and snowy in winter, there are still ways to stretch your rides. When dressed and equipped properly, riding in colder weather can actually be fun and invigorating. If the weather is simply not safe for riding (maybe the roads are icy, the visibility is poor or the winds are too strong), then setting your bike on a trainer or signing up for indoor spinning classes will help get you in shape. 

How to choose your bicycle resolutions

There are a number of approaches you can use to set your resolutions. I really like the way BikeRadar.com sums it up:

  • Make a list of one goal per month of the year. Example: Every month I am going to find a different 30-mile ride to do.
  • Have three or four larger goals to work on. Example: Sign up for four charity bike events or local bike races, or train to go on three bicycle tours (we know one company that will figure out all the logistics for you, wink wink).
  • Focus on one big resolution that will take you the better part of the year to prepare for or accomplish. Perhaps it’s a cross-country bike tour, or the desire to clock 10,000 miles.  

Keep a record of your progress

Whatever your bicycle-related resolution is, keeping track of your progress in one way or another will help. This might mean a bicycle journal, a spreadsheet, or jotting notes on a calendar. When motivation wanes, you can look at these notes and give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve done so far. And at the end of the year, you will have proof of meeting your specific targets (or coming pretty darn close).

Be S.M.A.R.T. about your cycling goals

You hear this everywhere, but it's true. Make S.M.A.R.T. New Year's Resolutions. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-bound. And remember that you have a life outside of cycling that deserves your attention too. Non-cycling family and friends who want to spend time with you. Work, community and household obligations. And other fun stuff besides riding a bike. Do your best but expect slip-ups, detours and lulls in motivation. Just keep at it, a little at a time, and you'll get there. 

My personal cycling resolutions for 2024

I have two goals for 2024:

Eight counties. A few years ago, I started chipping away at a project I call #NYS62in62. That’s hashtag for doing a 62-mile ride in each of New York State’s 62 counties. Because I’ve done all the counties close to my home, I now have to travel to get the others done, which takes time, money and planning. I hope to get at least eight counties completed this year. I've already got three weekends on the calendar toward making this happen. 

More errands by bike. In my book, all bike rides -- short, long, fast, slow -- are good bike rides. This year I am committing to ditching the car and using my bike for at least one errand per week, be it to pick up milk at the store, meet a friend for coffee or return a library book. 

If you already have your 2024 cycling resolutions drafted, we’d love to hear what they are so you can inspire others. Send us an email and we will share these ideas on a future blog. Here’s to a safe and happy year of biking in 2024!

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