The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book on technology, distraction, and why training simply is the most effective way to improve your cycling. To get updates and follow the progress of the book please sign up for our newsletter.

People claim to want to do something that matters, yet they measure themselves against things that don’t, and track their progress not in years but in microseconds. They want to make something timeless, but they focus instead on immediate payoffs and instant gratification

Ryan Holiday

Are you ready to ride with more intent? Before you move toward that goal, we’ve got some prep work to do, starting with answering this question. “Why do you ride”? Take a more in-depth look at what brings you back to the bike week after week.

Do you ride to compete, to maintain health, to connect with friends? I’ve found it helpful to categorize “why ride” answers into two bins.

Do you primarily ride for enjoyment or to experience progress?

If your primary goal is enjoyment, your approach to the bike should be uncomplicated. Ride when you feel like it, avoid the bike when you don’t. 

If your primary interest is in making progress, your next step is to evaluate the collection of responsibilities that compete for your time and attention. In simple terms, your hopes for improvement may be incompatible with the rest of your life context.

No training app or coach can help you overcome the conflict between competing life priorities. You either have the time and energy to make a more significant investment in your cycling, or you don’t. Better to make that discovery now.

Evaluating your life context should lead you to one of three conclusions. 


  1. I need to re-examine my current commitment to cycling. This usually means accepting a lower level of fitness.  
  2. The best I can do is maintain my current commitment. This usually means maintaining a current level of fitness.  
  3. I’m ready to increase my level of commitment and pursue progress.

These three states of riding are often conflated. Let’s take a closer look.

Re-examine

You thought you had your season figured out. You slated this year for huge improvements on the bike. A few months into the season, and you’re treading water. 

Rather than fixate on stalled progress, your move is to accept a defensive approach to your cycling. Shift your mindset from “progress” to “enjoyment” and accept the reality that success rarely takes the form of a straight line. Progress can be paused.  

Maintain

You see the potential for life to ease up. As excited as you are about committing more time and energy to ride, there’s still little room for an increase in your cycling investment.

Your move is to accept a maintenance mode of cycling, utilizing your stability in life to attend to other priorities while plotting for the future. Until winds shift, you’re staying put, conserving energy, and waiting for clearer skies. 

Pursue Progress

If your life examination lands you in the progress category, you should be busting at the seams, ready to improve. You’re not exhausted or burned-out from forcing your cycling habit on a life incompatible with progress. You’ve adopted a flexible mindset that has allowed you to weather challenging life periods incompatible with performance gains. 

Ultimately, your flexible mindset has resulted in less frustration and greater enjoyment while setting you up to take full advantage of training.

You’ve laid the groundwork for progress. Let’s get after it.


Training can be confusing. In our free eBook, we’ll show you four ways to use your data and insights from science to ride better than ever.


Written by Nate Dunn M.S.

Nate Dunn has spent his entire career in education and coaching. As a former teacher and now founder/head coach at Data Driven Athlete, he is most excited about helping cyclists discover their potential as they experience more great days on the bike.