In life, we all set goals. Whether it’s our careers, personal life, or fitness, they help guide us and provide motivation.

Road cycling is no different. If you want to improve and boost your motivation, setting goals can be highly beneficial. However, weak goals can have the opposite effect and leave you disinterested and struggling to head out for rides – which is why you should take time to carefully plan them out.

To help, we’ve pulled together some top tips for setting your cycling goals.

Setting goals

When it comes to setting goals, the key is to set high-quality targets that will motivate you to ride. Here are a few things you should consider:

Challenge yourself: First things first, any cycling goals should challenge you. There’s no point in setting a goal that can be easily achieved – you’ll struggle to motivate yourself for it and won’t get that immense sense of achievement once you’ve completed it.

Remember, it’s your goal: So, what is a challenging goal? This is unique to each individual rider. There’s no point aligning your goals with one of your riding buddies if they’re a much stronger rider than you are. Think about your skill level and set a goal that is outside of your current comfort zone.

Keep it realistic: But not too far out that it’s unachievable. Like setting a goal that’s too easy, setting an overly challenging goal can also be demotivating. We all want to push ourselves to the limit, but a goal shouldn’t push you beyond that. If you’ve got a big goal that’s out of your reach, save it for the next year or the year after that. You can even set stepping-stone goals over the course of a few years that lead up to one major goal.

What’s the reason behind your goal? – Try not to set goals for the sake of it. You need to have a desire and strong reasoning for choosing your aims otherwise you’ll never motivate yourself to do them. Take time to think about what motivates you to ride, and what you’d love to achieve. It could be increasing your average speed on rides, clocking your fastest century time, or taking on a Gran Fondo. Having this reason behind your goal will provide the motivation you need on those cold Sunday morning rides.

Set smaller goals

Most of the time, we have one overriding goal which is our main focus – an A goal.

However, it’s a good idea to set smaller goals leading up to this, your B and C goals. They act as stepping-stones to the main goal and will help you achieve it, so they should be linked to your main goal. For example, if a hilly sportive is your main goal, you could plan some smaller events on similar terrain. These should be easier than the sportive but will give you experience on similar terrain and a confidence boost leading up to the main event.

Again, these smaller goals should be relative to what you want to achieve and your main goal.

Planning for success

It happens all the time. Cyclists set goals and within weeks they’ve already lost interest. The main cause is usually that they’ve failed to plan.

Setting goals is the easiest part- creating a plan to achieve them is harder. So, how do you plan for an event? Here are some top tips:

Training: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. It’s an old cliché but completely true. As we’ve said, a cycling goal should be something that challenges you. It won’t be easy, so you can’t achieve it without training. The key to successful training is having a structured plan. Creating a training plan can be tricky, which is why it’s best to use an app. Most apps can create bespoke training plans catered to your goals. Check out our guide to the best indoor training apps (most of which can be used outdoors too) here. We also have a guide to creating a cycling training plan here.

Plan around life: Sometimes, cyclists become too invested from the outset, and riding takes over their life for a short period before they inevitably burn out. That’s why you need to plan cycling around your life to try and get a good balance. This is when a training plan can also be really handy, as you can plan sessions more effectively around your day-to-day life. If you don’t, you’ll soon find yourself missing rides.

Taking breaks: This one’s important for both motivation and your body’s recovery. Every 4 to 6 weeks, take a week off or only go on easy rides. This gives your body time to recover and prevents overtraining. It’ll also refresh your mind and by the end of the week you’ll be eager to get back in the saddle.

Keeping the momentum

How many times do people set New Year’s resolutions only to give up by the end of January? The same thing happens in cycling, and the key is to keep motivated.

Of course, keeping motivated is easier said than done. However, there are a few easy things you can do to boost your drive:

  • Track your progress: It can often feel like you’re making little progress. However, you’ve probably achieved more than you think. That’s why it’s worth writing down your progress along the way. You can refer back to this when you’re struggling and see how much you’ve already achieved.
  • Ride with others: Having support from other riders can give you a boost when you need it. Everyone has times when they’re struggling, but a group of riding friends can help motivate you through this.
  • Take some time off the bike: As we’ve said, it’s important to take time off the bike. More riding isn’t always better, and you might just be burnt out. So, take a little time away from the bike. You’ll soon find yourself itching to get back in the saddle.

Follow this guide and you’ll have no problem creating effective cycling goals. The next step is to smash them, and you can find a guide to creating cycling training plans here. Don’t forget to head over to where you’ll find all the bikes, accessories, and tech you need to smash all your cycling goals.

You want to set effective cycling goals and boost your motivation, you want Halfords.