Resolutions have always struck me as sort of silly, partly because every time I make them they end up swept into some dusty corner of my brain after a few short months, only to be hazily recollected the next time New Year's Eve rolls around. Still, the finality of one year ending and another beginning does make this as good a time as any to jot down a few goals for the next twelve months, so here are five suggestions to help make 2015 your best year of riding yet.Explore More
It's incredibly easy to get trapped in a routine, continually riding the same trails, in the same direction, day after day. There's nothing wrong with repetition, and it is comforting to have each nuance of a trail memorized to the point that you could ride it blindfolded, but switching things up every once in a while helps keep thing fresh, and gets those synapses firing in different ways than usual. Venturing into uncharted terrain is an easy way to broaden your biking skills as well; the techniques that naturally develop when navigating foreign trails will likely make you even faster once you return home.
Exploring more doesn't need to entail passports and plane tickets either – it can be as simple as following the faint sliver of singletrack that you've ridden by countless times but never ventured down, or even traveling one town over to sample their trail network. There are thousands of miles of trail out there just waiting to be ridden – all it takes is a little extra effort. Go Bigger
'Go bigger' isn't the slogan off of a No Fear t-shirt from the 90s (although it could be), it's simply encouragement to take things a little further this year. What's the longest ride you've ever been on? 50? Maybe 100 miles? Make it a goal to bump that number up even higher, to improve upon what was no doubt an already impressive effort. 'Go bigger' applies to hitting jumps and technical trails as well, and while you don't need to try and top Aggy or Andreu's Red Bull Rampage antics, what about making it a goal to hit a drop that's just slightly bigger than anything you've ever done before, or making a concerted effort to clean that heinous technical section that continually forces you off your bike? If you feel like your skills progression has stalled out, a lesson could be the answer, no matter your ability level. Sometimes all it takes is another set of eyes to help give you the tips necessary for improvement, tips that will help you achieve that resolution to 'go bigger.'
Ride With Someone Younger Than You
When I first started riding I was in awe of the older riders that hung out at my local shop. They seemed so confident and self-assured as they walked through the front door, bringing in mud splattered bikes and endless tales of their most recent victories and defeats out on the trail. When I finally got to tag along with them on group rides my awe didn't subside – these guys had seriously impressive bike handling and fitness - but their encouragement helped make me realize that those skills were attainable with enough perseverance and practice. Nearly twenty years later I'm grateful that I had those mentors to help steer me in the right direction, onto a path of full-blown bike addiction. So, sometime over the course of this next year, make the effort to ride with someone younger than you. When you do, it's likely you'll end up making a larger impression than you ever imagined. Enter a Race
I don't consider myself a racer, and these days I'm happiest out on my own or with a couple of friends on a long ride, one where I don't need to wear a number plate or obey the beep of a timer. Despite that, I typically try to enter at least one or two races a year, and I'd encourage others to do the same. Why? Because inevitably, when I look back on a past season, it's the memories of races that are the most vivid, indelibly seared into my brain by the act of pushing my body and mind harder than usual. Racing is an easy way to surprise yourself, and in the heat of a competition, when those endorphins are pulsing through your body, skills that you were unaware even existed can emerge. It's also an effective (and sometimes humbling) method of assessing your fitness and skill level, a way to see how you stack up against the clock and your buddies.Spend Less Time On the Internet
If there's only one resolution that you stick to, please let it be this. Stop endlessly refreshing Facebook, put down the smartphone, and get outside. Yes, it's winter in many parts of the world right now, but even if your trails are buried under feet of snow that doesn't mean you should replace riding time with screen time. Bundle up and do something – anything – active (and no, double tapping photos on Instagram doesn't count). The internet, including Pinkbike, will still be there when you get back, and your body and brain will feel better for taking the time to escape its magnetic pull.
What are your resolutions for 2015?