Yesterday I posted 5 Reasons to Consider Cycling to Lose Weight. There are actually more than five reasons but I wanted to see what my readers had to say too and several came up with some good ones:

  • Psychologically it makes you feel better to ride.
  • It’s easier to ride the same distance than run it if you’re overweight.
  • It has great medical benefits.

All great reasons. Today I wanted to look at why so many new cyclists end up quitting the sport after only a few rides or months.

Why Do New Cyclists Quit?

If there are so many great reasons for anyone to take up cycling, why do we so many newbie cyclists quit? While searching for a new bike, I saw so many new, or barely used bicycles, on Craigslist. They were listed as only being ridden once or only a few miles (many less than 50)? Here are a few reasons why I think new cyclists find it hard going and end up quitting.

  1. Failed New Year’s Resolutions. We’re now into February and many people made some kind of exercise or weight loss resolution at the beginning of the year. I wonder how many are actually still following through with their plans? Too many people get caught up in the holiday season with big plans for exercise that are based on impulse decisions, made without end goals in mind, and with little thought about how they plan to pull them off. So, that shiny new bike they got for Christmas just sits there collecting dust in the garage.
  2. They didn’t lose any weight right away. Too many expect to lose huge amounts of weight after only a couple of rides. Good weight loss is a marathon (to borrow a term from the runners) and won’t be achieved after a couple of rides.
  3. They felt alone. Riding a bike while overweight takes some courage to do because they may have to get over some insecurity (see #4) or because they felt they were tackling it alone. Not having someone there alongside to either push them or hold them accountable can make it easy to quit. I ride alone a lot but it’s not because I want to. Work schedules, training plans, and other factors determine whether or not we can find someone to ride with. Joining a group or cycling club can help.
  4. They felt insecure. A lot of people, especially those of us that are overweight, feel very uncomfortable in traditional cycling clothing and the insecurity people feel in going out in public dressed that way can be enough to force them to quit. It does take a little getting used to but those clothes have specific purposes (storage, support, comfort, safety, etc.). If you’re just riding around the neighborhood nothing says you need to be dressed to the nines in cycling garb. You can always pull on a pair of gym shorts over your cycling shorts.
  5. They were rubbed the wrong way. I’m not talking about chaffing either. Too many ‘hardcore’ cyclists make beginning, or overweight, cyclists feel out of place. Some do it on purpose while others may not realize they do it. Newbie cyclists have just as much right and desire to be out on the roads and trails as anyone else.
  6. They started out doing too much. I think this is one of the biggest reasons new cyclists quit. Too many start out riding five or six miles (or more) their first couple of times out. It’s not a problem because it feels so easy. Before long though they’ll wake up and wonder who set the grenade off in their crotch. They’re sore, chaffed, and in misery because they’re butt is sore and/or the inside of their thighs are raw. Starting out doing too much without letting your body (you’re butt or sit bones) get accustomed to it is a recipe for disaster. It takes time for your body to adjust to the stresses of cycling so you need to take it easy at first. That’s why when I started back riding on the trainer last week, after a five-month layoff, I only did short 20-30 minute rides that were basically me just spinning with no resistance. I had to build my tush’s endurance back up since I’d been out of the saddle for so long. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll gradually build up my time/distance after my rear has adjusted. Being properly fit to your bicycle is another huge part of this equation and something that we’ll talk about later.

Those are six reasons why I think new cyclists end up quitting the sport. I know there are a lot more and I want to hear about your experiences on this issue. What made you quit, almost made you quit, or what kept you spinning those cranks?

Image courtesy of ndanger; (CC BY-SA 2.0)