Rapha Manuals: We All Need A Finish Line

Whether it be to ride a certain distance, climb that tricky hill or achieve a certain race result, goal setting is a powerful motivational tool for many cyclists. Here’s how to set your goal and, more importantly, achieve it.

28 July 2018

Whether it be professional, academic or otherwise, setting yourself a goal can be a great way to inspire motivation and, ultimately, get to where you want to go. This can certainly be said of cycling, and staff at Rapha maintain an annual tradition of setting riding goals at the beginning of each year. Whether a complete beginner or a race winner, it helps us get the most out of our riding, and creates a culture of supporting and encouraging one another too.

It seems we’re not the only ones to find goal setting useful. Health and exercise apps such as Strava have boomed for their ability to log exercise, track progress and, increasingly, guide users towards a set goal. They’ve become somewhat of an obsession for some; ‘if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen” has become a moniker of the modern cyclist.

Whether you choose to deep dive into the data or not, goal setting is undoubtedly effective, as sports psychologist Josie Perry explains. “Having a goal gives you something to shoot for and gets you out on your bike more. Once you’re back from your ride, the feeling of ticking a goal off is really satisfying and provides motivation for your next ride,” she says. “The classic goals for cyclists are often related to distance or speed but it could be anything, really. Riding to a particular location, taking a nice picture for Instagram, or getting up that tricky little hill without walking.

Whatever your objective, the key is to strike the balance between gaining motivation from having a goal and allowing it to become an all-consuming quest and a rod for your own back.”

Former Head of Social Media at Rapha, Kitty Pemberton-Platt, went from total novice to badass racer (not her words, she’s very humble) in just a couple of years and puts much of her success on the bike down to setting goals. Here, she talks us through how to set your own and shares a few pieces of sage advice for the journey to achieving them.

Everyone’s different

The first thing to say is that everyone has different goals so yours are bound to be different from mine, not everyone wants to race and that’s fine. Previous goals that I set myself include riding with clipless pedals and joining my first group ride.

Write it down

Once you have something in mind, write it down. Committing your objective to paper fixes it in your mind and gives you something to refer back to. I used to write out my goals in my racing journal. One page is decorated with countless drawings of a ‘podium envelope’ (the prize envelope you are given if you place 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a race). I drew it everyday as a tangible reminder of what I was aiming for and ended up keeping the first envelope I won.

No comparison

Don’t compare your goals with anyone else’s. If you’re just starting in cycling, it’s best to focus on your own riding. Even as you become more experienced and set yourself more ambitious goals, you’ll come to realise that there will always be someone riding a little bit faster or further than you. Don’t drive yourself mad trying to match them, just do your own thing.

Trust the process

By definition, setting a goal means you're mentally and physically going somewhere new. It should push you out of your comfort zone so it might be uncomfortable or a little scary at times. But believe in yourself, keep referring back to your goal and you’ll get there. I set myself the goal of riding my first 100km ride four years ago with the Rapha #Womens100 but there were many rides where I struggled leading up to it. Those moments shouldn’t be a stop sign. It’s a reminder you’re going in the right direction. Enjoy that process.

Looking to test yourself on the bike? Join one of the challenges that Rapha sets each year. From the Festive500 to the Women’s 100 and beyond, we’re sure you’ll find something to get you out of your comfort zone.

Rapha Handbook 01 Getting Started in Road Cycling

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