2024 should be the year of achievable cycling goals

Don’t overstretch yourself or push too hard, but aim for targets you can hit

A Woman cycling
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Adam Becket
Adam Becket

News editor at Cycling Weekly, Adam brings his weekly opinion on the goings on at the upper echelons of our sport. 

This piece is part of The Leadout, the offering of newsletters from Cycling Weekly and Cyclingnews. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

Good evening and welcome back to The Leadout. Happy new year! My apologies that this has popped into your inbox in the evening, rather than in the usual morning fashion, but even I’m allowed a day completely off now and again, and that was New Year’s Day for me. As ever, do email me - adam.becket@futurenet.com - if you have anything to say.

Cycling Weekly might be a 133-year-old institution, but we're also owned by a PLC - Future PLC, in this case - so of course, being January, we're busy writing SMART goals. Everyone is doing them; that’s goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, for the uninitiated. While this might seem like classic corporate babble, it’s actually a useful way of thinking about where you are at work, and where you could improve. Finessing them through the framework means that they aren’t just meaningless targets, but things that are within reach, but that could be challenging.

It got me thinking about what my cycling goals are for 2024, and what we should all be aiming for on the bike.’Ride Further’ and ‘Ride Faster’ are all too common January goals; but for those of us that aren’t professional cyclists, we should really be kinder to ourselves when setting targets. Perhaps, rather than simply saying you will ride more than in 2023, or setting a number which seems a long way off, try setting a much more proportional one. 

On a similar note, Cycling Weekly’s riding challenge, which was previously just the CW5000, has been split into four separate goals - 500, 1,000, 2,5000, and 5,000 miles, in order to make the whole thing more accessible and attainable. 

In this week’s magazine, out on Thursday, we also have a list of things you could try in 2024, from suggestions of rides and challenges you can set yourself, to more esoteric things like cooking your ride snacks and visiting a museum. Let’s not think that all targets have to be extreme. 

Last week, I wrote about how much I dislike the idea of the Festive 500, the one-off push to ride 500km between Christmas and the new year, but having a goal to reach through the year feels a lot more sustainable, and also healthy. However, we should make sure that they are achievable, eminently plausible, because otherwise it feels like people are just setting themselves up for disappointment, or pushing themselves too hard. I almost hit 5000km in 2023, so why shouldn’t I aim for 4,000 first, and then see if I can get that bit extra? There’s no pressure that way. 

If you’re not someone who likes the idea of pure miles and kilometres based targets, maybe your goal could be to complete a certain kind of distance this year, whether that’s a 50, 100, or even 200km ride, or to cycle a particular route. 2024 could be the year that you finally conquer a famous hill or mountain, or even the year that you cycle to another city. That’s the beautiful thing about cycling: you can make it fit your wants and needs. If you’re an ultra person, maybe you could do a 24 hour challenge, or if you’re just someone who likes getting out, you can just do that. Do what makes you want to ride more, do what makes you happy. 

My colleague Michelle wrote a great piece which came out this week about how she is breaking up with Strava, and it struck the right notes for me in terms of talking about how it makes people feel bad if they’re not going further and faster. That’s not why I cycle, and it doesn’t have to be why you cycle, either.

Crucially, however, don’t feel dispirited if everything feels quite far away right now. If, like me, you’re in the UK, then the weather does not feel particularly conducive to cycling right now, and that’s ok. Be kind to yourself, remember that the days are short, cold, and windy, and look forward to those long summer days, when cycling feels a lot easier and more fun. 

With an achievable goal, you don’t even have to stress about falling too far behind in January. Set your own pace, get out on your bike when you want, and before you know it those kilometres will start stacking up. Here’s to a year of having fun cycling.

This piece is part of The Leadout, the offering of newsletters from Cycling Weekly and Cyclingnews. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

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