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Alpe d'Huez (Pic: Manu Molle)

Sportive

Seventeen cycling resolutions for 2017

What's on your to-do list for the new year?

The New Year is the time to reflect on the past 12 months and lay out your ambitions for the coming year.

Resolutions often prove difficult to keep, despite all the best intentions, but there is no harm in setting some ambitious targets to build towards.

Aboard your beloved steed, with miles of tarmac available to tackle there is no shortage of places to ride, events to tackle and skills to acquire over the coming year.

Best of British: Lake District, pic - Factory Media/Scott Connor
What’s your target for 2017?

So what could you add to your bucket list in 2017, and what targets can realistically be ticked off this year?

We have picked out 17 targets to provide some inspiration for your New Year’s cycling resolutions over the following pages.

From conquering some of the sport’s biggest amateur events to learning more of yourself and your machine, which will make your list? Let us know in the comments below.

Swap the car for the bike

This might seem an odd place to start – you wouldn’t be on a cycling website if you didn’t like to ride your bike, right?

But, while you may be happy clocking plenty of miles at the weekend, how many riders then jump in the car when you need to pick up a pint of milk or get to work?

Strava, commute, commuter, commuting, signal, pic - Jered Gruber
Swap the car for the bike (Pic: Jered Gruber)

It may mean investing a more affordable bike (your all-singing road bike may be a bit over-the-top or impractical for a trip to the local shop), but it’s a philosophy encouraged at the very top of the sport – British Cycling encourage their riders to do every trip out, including commuting to the velodrome, on two wheels.

Learn how to look after your bike

The bicycle is, on the face of it, a simple thing but we’ve all found ourselves hunched over a bike cursing under our breath at a seemingly impossible mechanical dilemma.

Learning how to look after your bike can save you time and money and is a great starting point for New Year’s Resolutions.

Juice Lubes, chain lube, winter, cleaning, maintenance
Learn how to keep your bike in tip-top condition

It also allows you to better understand your machine and how you can keep it in tip-top shape. You can also identify small problems before they come big ones.

Start with the basics. RoadCyclingUK’s maintenance section includes plenty of advice, including how to keep your chain in tip-top condition through winter and how to wash your beloved steed like a WorldTour mechanic.

Otherwise, many local bike shops offer maintenance classes. Evans Cycles also run bi-monthly FixIt! sessions in their shops, covering the basics including gear adjustment, brake adjustment and lubing your drivetrain.

More comprehensive training is offered by providers including ATG, who run a two-day Cytech Home Mechanics courses in London, Aylesbury or Stafford, and Cycle Systems Academy in London.

Get a bike fit

You can have the best machine in the business but if you are not positioned correctly then you may be more likely to pick up injury – or just be plain uncomfortable on the bike.

As a result, plenty of riders are turning to a professional bike fit to get properly setup, with many local bike shops investing in the equipment and expertise required.

Bike fit, studio (Pic: Sigma Sport)
A bike fit will help you make the most of your bike (Pic: Sigma Sport)

Several different systems are in operation, such as the Apex Bike Performance or Retul – the latter being used by British Cycling, among others.

If you are not ready to commit to the full bike fit, here are five starting points from British Cycling head physio Phil Burt, who also looks after bike-fitting for Team Sky.

And if you want to take it to the next level check out our buyer’s guide, which looks at everything you should expect from a bike fit.

Write (and stick to) a training plan

Once of the best ways of improving on the bike is to have a clear plan of action, which is where a well-written training plan will pay dividends.

You may want to invest in a coach to help you in that regard – and here’s what to think about if you’re considering a coach for 2017 – or you could always do it yourself. Follow our tips here.

winter cycling
Write down your training plan and you are more likely to fulfil it (Pic: Media24)

Start by setting some clear and achievable goals, and then work backwards from there in order to progress towards those goals.

If it’s a big event you are targeting, your training should also become more event-specific as the big date looms.

Join a club

Motivation can be tough when the weather is poor and the prospect of a cold, wet solo ride is the last thing you fancy.

Joining a club is an easy way to address the issue – offering the chance to join like-minded people to share your passion for all things two-wheeled. If the weather isn’t particularly appealing, the fact you can share the ride with friends makes it a lot easier to get out of bed.

Joining a club is a great way to
Joining a club is a great way to address waning motivation to ride

British Cycling boasts more than 1,500 affiliated clubs, most of whom will have a weekend club run – with different groups according to speed.

Clubs vary significantly from one to another, with different sizes, disciplines and opportunities offered, so it’s worth taking a look around if you have a number of clubs in your area. British Cycling’s online club finder tool a great place to start.

Joining a club isn’t for everyone, of course, but with many offering the chance to join a few rides before committing to a full membership, it is well worth giving your local outfit a chance.

Buy a new bike

OK, so walking into a bike shop and parting with your hard-earned in return for a shiny new steed may not be the most taxing of resolutions to set, nor can most people buy a new bike at the drop of a hat.

So why not give yourself a long-term goal of save up the money to buy your N+1?

Trek model year 2017 road bikes - Trek Domane SLR 6 (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Why not treat yourself to a new bike?

Putting away just £20 a week will put enough in the kitty to invest in a £1000 bike come next Christmas. And why should it just be a new bike you save up for? How about some new hoops, a cycling holiday or a winter training camp instead?

If you can cut costs from your daily routine, whether that’s quitting smoking, cutting down on drinking, or commuting by bike, your can spend the rewards on cycling.

Ride a century

Riding a century is a rite of passage. It’s a significant challenge – 100 miles is a long way, make no bones about that – but an achievable one for regular cyclists.

Many sportives will have a route option of more than 100 miles and having a specific event in the diary gives you a date to work towards, but there’s also a joy in plotting a route and following it turn-by-turn on a long summer’s day to bag your first century with friends for company.

RideLondon-Surrey 100, Richmond Park, pic: ©Roz Jones, used with permission
RideLondon is one of many 100-mile sportives on offer, or you could plot your own century route (Pic: Roz Jones)

Of course, by virtue of improved weather and more daylight hours, summer is the best time to ride a century. However, even if riding 100 miles seems like a daunting task at the moment, you have plenty of time between now and then to prepare.

Follow a training plan, slowly build up your mileage (if you can ride 75-85 miles in training then you can ride 100 miles on the day), plan your day out and think about nutrition.

Ride an audax

Been there, done that when it comes to riding a century? To some experienced riders then 100 miles may seem small fry.

If you fall into that category, then how about pushing yourself to the next level instead with a long-distance audax?

auduax-brevet-cards

Audax events are non-competitive rides over a pre-defined course – the sportives of yesteryear, but at a fraction of the price, with fewer riders, typically no feed stations and only a map to follow (though GPS computers have removed much of the difficulty of self-navigation).

Audax riders are required to visit control points on the route to have a brevet card stamped.

While there are many 100km events, 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km are the ‘classic’ audax distances according to Audax UK, the long-distance cycling association in the UK.

Upcoming events are listed on the AudaxUK website. If you already have 100 miles under your belt then have a crack at 200km – and before you know it you could be riding the Bryan Chapman Memorial, the UK’s blue riband 600km auduax, or better still, the holy grail of long-distance cycling, the 1,200km Paris-Brest-Paris.

Take on a European sportive

The UK has a packed sportive calendar but there’s little that matches tackling an event on exotic foreign roads.

Sign-up and start training – a mountainous European sportive is likely to be a significantly tougher challenge than many of the the UK’s rides.

Col d'Izoard (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)
The barren slopes of the Col d’Izoard provide a dramatic finale to the 2017 Etape du Tour (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

The Etape du Tour, La Marmotte and Maratona dles Dolomites are Europe’s most prestigious sportives, while the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia is not for the weak-willed.

There are plenty of other events aside from the obvious bucket-list regulars too – and many are certainly worth a closer look.

The L’Ariégeoise, Alpenbrevet and Quebrantahuesos are just three more mountainous rides in France, Switzerland and Spain respectively.

A big European summer sportive is also a great marker on the calendar to provide motivation for your winter and spring riding – so the sooner you book, the sooner you can start logging the training miles.

Ride a Spring Classic

The Spring Classics hold a special place in the hearts of cycling fans and with good reason, as all who have tackled one will attest too.

Sportives are attached to many of the Spring Classics – the monuments of the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege included.

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Take on the cobbles of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix this spring (pic: Sirotti)

The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are the pick of the bunch thanks to their iconic cobbled climbs and bone-jarring pavé respectively.

This year, the Ronde’s sportive takes place on Saturday April 1 with there now being four sportive distances of 75km, 130km, 180km or 230km to tackle.

Paris-Roubaix, meanwhile, is the following Sunday with the Paris-Roubaix Challenge taking in 172km from Busigny to Roubaix on Saturday April 8.

Both sportives take place on the day before the race itself, which means, having tackled the course, you can see how it’s meant to be done and many tour companies offer full weekend packages.

And if you need any more convincing as to why you should tackle the iconic pave of Paris-Roubaix, here are eight reasons to add the challenge to your bucket list.

Set a mileage target

Target setting does not just have to revolve around a handful of big events in the spring and summer.

Why not challenge yourself over the full year by setting a 2017 mileage target?

Strava

Users of online training tools such as Strava or Garmin Connect can easily track how many miles they have clocked on their beloved steeds and it can be a great base for target setting for the next 12 months.

If you ride regularly, 500 miles a month gives a target of 6,000 for the year – though chances are you will have the opportunity to clock more in summer than winter.

Make your target challenging but achievable and if you find you break it earlier than anticipated use the rest of your year to set a new target to beat in 2018.

It can be hugely rewarding to see the target draw ever closer after every ride.

Using Strava is also a great tool for winter training as a source of informing and motivating you through your training. Are you making the most of Strava? Check out our guide  here.

Ride a stage of the Tour de France

The Tour de France takes centre stage when it comes to road cycling and with the route for next year’s race out, you have the opportunity to test yourself on the same roads as the pros.

This year’s Etape du Tour sportive tackles the mountains 178km route from Briancon to Izoard in the Alps.

Etape du Tour 2016 - 10/07/2016 - Megeve/Morzine (122 km) - France
The Etape du Tour offers the chance to ride a stage of the Tour de France (pic: ASO)

The sportive takes place on Sunday July 16 2017 – four days before the professionals tackle the same route – and while registration is now closed there are plenty of places available through tour operators and charities.

And if you want to ride a stage of the Tour de France, you’re not limited to the Etape – why not plot a DIY route instead?

The full Tour de France route for 2017 includes all five of France’s mountain regions so there’s plenty to get stuck into.

Go on a training camp

The sun on your back, miles of tarmac ahead of you, long climbs and undulating terrain with nothing to distract you from you and your bike.

It’s with good reason that winter and spring training camps are proving more and more popular for amateur cyclists. After all, what better way to get serious miles in the bank to prepare yourself for the summer?

Madison-Genesis, training camp, Mallorca, 2016, pic - Madison - 1
A training camp allows you to focus on your cycling under the sun, while the UK freezes (pic: Madison)

Already a significant fixture of the professional cyclists’ off-season build-up, the winter training camp also offers amateurs the chance to live the professional lifestyle for a weekend or week, and bask in some southern European sunshine.

While the rest of the UK freezes, there is nothing more satisfying than packing up your bike and kit and heading for warmer climes such as Majorca, Girona or the Canary Islands.

In fact, there are plenty of great training camp destinations out there, with seven of the best listed here.

Enter a race

Racing is at the heart of cycling and it’s easy to get involved, whether it’s a road race, an hour-long crit, cyclo-cross racing or time trialling.

Engage your competitive streak, pin on a number and have a crack at racing.

Ready to step it up a level? Why not enter a race in 2017?
Ready to step it up a level? Why not enter a race in 2017?

You will need a British Cycling racing licence to enter most road races and crits, though some will let you buy a provisional licence on the day.

Crits are hard and fast, and riding in a big group at that pace takes practice – but it’s an exhilarating experience with the London Nocturne among the highest profile events that are open to amateurs.

Time trialling, meanwhile, is the simplest and most accessible form of racing. It’s you against the clock and the chance to beat your personal best.

All you need is a roadworthy bike. Many clubs organise a series of ten-mile time trials in the spring and summer and if you need some top tips, then five-time national champion Alex Dowsett has shared his with us.

Ride on the track

There are few more intimidating sights than that the super-steep banking of a velodrome for a track cycling newbie – with even Olympic champion Elinor Barker admitting to RCUK she was terrified when she first tried it.

But riding on the track can be an exhilarating experience, which marries speed with skill.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 03/12/2016 - Track Cycling - Revolution Champions League - Lee Valley Velopark, London, England - A General View (GV).
With six indoor velodromes in the UK, there’s plenty of opportunity to tackle the boards (pic: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

Most of the UK’s tracks are outdoors but with six indoor velodromes at Lee Valley, Manchester, Calshot, Glasgow, Newport and Derby there are plenty of opportunities to follow the tracks of the likes of Sir Chris Hoy.

All six of the aforementioned velodromes offer taster sessions for beginners, with hire bikes available, while many clubs will also look to make use of their local facilities.

Fancy yourself as the next track cycling superstar? We got Tim Kennaugh’s top tips on getting started here.

Tackle an iconic climb

Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment which comes with scaling one of the sport’s most famous peaks.

From Alpe d’Huez to the Stelvio, there are Grand Tour giants throughout Europe, with many of the iconic ascents of the continent packing cyclists’ bucket lists.

Alpe d'Huez? Stelvio? Mont Ventoux? Use 2017 to tick off some iconic climbs.
Alpe d’Huez? Stelvio? Mont Ventoux? Use 2017 to tick off some iconic climbs (pic: Media-24)

What climbs are on your must-ride list? Alpe d’Huez and the Col du Galibier in France, perhaps? The Passo dello Stelvio and Monte Zoncolan in Italy, maybe? Or how about the giants of  the Angliru and Pico de Veleta in Spain?

Nor do you have to go too far to tackle some of Europe’s toughest climbs because, while Britain’s peaks often lack distance, there are plenty of shorter but very, very steep UK ascents on offer too.

From the 33 per cent gradient of Rosedale Chimney in North Yorkshire, to the twisting, Alpine-like passage of Scotland’s Bealach na Ba, you’ll find plenty of climbs to seriously test your legs.

Whether you want to venture into Europe to tackle some of the cycling greats, or prefer to stay closer to home for some British thigh-burners, make 2017 the year you tick an iconic climbs off your bucket list.

Organise a cycle tour

Cycling is about exploration: finding previously unridden roads, tackling new climbs, putting a pin in the map and devising a route to get there (and back).

There are few better ways to see the world than by bicycle, so why not plan your own tour? The world is your oyster but start closer to home: the UK has thousands of miles of beautiful roads through diverse landscapes, even if the weather is hit-and-miss and the tarmac often potholed.

Canary Islands, bike tour, group ride, training camp, climb, pic - Campagnolo
Organise a cycling tour, be it on these shores or somewhere further afield (pic: Campagnolo)

Round up a few riding buddies, choose a region of the UK to explore and book a series of B&Bs – then it’s up to you to ride between them.

You could devise a circular route to take you back to your car/home, or ride from A to B.

Why not take on Land’s End to John O’Groats, the opening three days of the 2014 Tour de France (with an additional leg between Yorkshire and Cambridge for good measure) or the 173-mile Chilterns Cycleway?

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