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How To Get Back Into Cycling After Long Breaks

Written by: Two Wheel Gear



Time to read 7 min

If you are someone who was previously into cycling but has since taken a long break, you may have decided that now is the time to try and get back into it. However, your body will have undergone some changes in the time that you have been away, as it’s unlikely that you have been able to maintain your fitness levels during this time.

It’s a tough reality to face for some, but it’s all about how you can get back into it, rather than focusing on what you have lost. The good news is that there are many ways to get back into cycling after long breaks, as long as you are willing to rededicate yourself to getting back into the swing of things.

Today’s discussion is going to be centered around this topic, so if this is something that is of interest to you, or if you’re looking for advice, you’re in the right place. Keep reading if you’re curious to learn more.

Understand Your Body Changes

It’s essential that you understand the changes that your body has been through in order to get back into cycling. You need to know what you are facing, and how you can get back.

Less Than 10 Days Without Cycling

The typical amount of time that it will take someone to start to decrease in fitness is around 10 days, which means that any break lasting less than 10 days shouldn’t cause you too many problems. 

Having said that, a break of more than a couple of days still puts you out of your regime, which means that you need to get back into that. It’s for the best if you don’t try to jump straight back in, giving it 100% right from the word go, and instead take the time to ease yourself into it. 

Perhaps start at around 70%, and work your way back up over the next few days. You’ll be back to 100% in no time at all, with it being like you never left.

More Than 10 Days Without Cycling

As stated previously, if your break from cycling is more than 10 days, this is where you’re going to notice a small decrease in your fitness levels. It goes without saying that the longer that you go without your regular cycling routine, the more your fitness levels are going to drop. 

It can be difficult to regain this, and the length of time that has passed will have impacted your blood plasma and your baseline fitness levels. It’s essential to start where you are at now, not where you were, slowly increasing the intensity until you feel comfortable where you should be.

A turqouise  book about getting back into cycling after long breaks.

Guide To Getting Back Into Cycling After Breaks

Now that you understand where you're body is at. This guide is going to give you all the expert tips on how to get back into cycling after long breaks

I've added 6 different tips that are guaranteed to get you back into the cycling game. And if it doesn't make sure to comment your thoughts and I'll be happy to assist with further ideas.

Point number one is...

Remain Consistent

Consistency is the key to everything in life, and that’s why it’s one of the best things that you can do for yourself when it comes to getting back into cycling. 

Set yourself up with some sort of training regime that you can follow, giving yourself a routine and stability. Once you are back in this routine, you will start to feel strange when you go without it, and this is exactly what you need to happen. Your body needs to return to its state of wanting that physical exertion, but even when you don’t, you need to push through.

Set up your training schedule with all the factors kept in mind. Amend this as necessary as you build back your strength and endurance after your time away, constantly pushing yourself to get to the next level. 

Working hard, not giving up, and remaining consistent even when it feels impossible will be a bigger help to getting back into cycling than anything else.

Get Past The Mental Challenges

Stop fixating on the past, and start focusing on what you can do to improve right now.

The mental challenges that cyclists face when they have been away for one reason or another can often be equal to, if not more challenging than the physical ones. It will depend on the situation and the individual, but conquering the mental challenges that have been thrown up will require a lot of letting go of the past.

Too often cyclists end up fixating on the way that they were performing before they took some time out, but this is not going to help anyone. It’s time to let go of what was, and focus on achieving the goals that you are going to set out for moving forward. If it helps, it might be worth speaking to someone about the mental aspect of it all, whether this is a professional or just someone that you trust. 

Overcoming the mental roadworks will allow you to perform better physically going forward, as you will be in the right frame of mind to push yourself, where you may not have been previously.

Set Clear Expectations For Yourself

To get back into cycling, you need to know what to expect from yourself, and how to set realistic goals. Each cyclist needs to evaluate their performance based on where they are at right now which we have already briefly touched upon. 

Using this information, goals should be set, ensuring that they are achievable based on where you are currently. With each goal achieved, you can set a new goal, setting new expectations for yourself every time you reach the one that has just been smashed.

So long as you keep the expectations clear, and understand your boundaries or limits as well as your goals, getting back into cycling should be a fairly straightforward path.

A gym room with spinners and other exercise equipment.
From: TwoWheelGear

Exercise Off Of The Bike

It’s not just about the time that you put in on the bike. Getting back into cycling after a long break is going to be tough because your overall fitness levels have depleted back to normal. This is not good enough if you are going to be cycling distances, so cyclists need to work on improving this as soon as possible. 

Crossfit is always a good way to rebuild what you have lost, even if you’re only doing this gently for a little while.

Your leg muscles need to be kept strong, ensuring that they are still capable of giving you the very best that they can be. Not a massive fan of leg day in the gym? While it’s a fantastic way to keep your leg muscles working well, and you’re not going to be able to skip it forever, steep walks/hiking/climbing are all suitable options while you’re off the bike.

This will also help you reduce the sweat from cycling.

Can Panniers Help Get Back Into Cycling?

The short answer is that yes, they can.

When you have taken long breaks from this, you might not remember just how difficult it was to balance the things that you may have needed to transport. 

Panniers are an essential piece of equipment for those looking to get back on their seats because they are lightweight, designed to help you balance effectively, and allow you to bring what you need without toppling over. Want to learn more about what panniers are, read our article.

If one of the reasons that you have been putting off making your return to cycling is because you’re concerned about not having the right equipment to thrive, this is certainly a piece we recommend.

If you're not sure which one you should get, take a look at our article on the best panniers of 2024.

The most sold pannier here at TwoWheelGear is the Pannier Backpack Convertible 2.0 PLUS.

Find A Partner To Help

Getting that motivation can be tough. You may have decided that you want to get back on your bike and get back into cycling, but finding the motivation to do this regularly can be tough. Previously in this article, we discussed that consistency is the key to being successful at getting back into cycling, but staying motivated enough to be consistent can be a struggle.

Lots of cyclists find it helpful to have a partner that they can train with, push each other to be better, and generally, have someone by their side to help them when things feel tough. Having a partner means that if you try to be lazy it’s not only you that you are letting down, and more often than not this will be enough to get you up off of your sofa and onto your bike. 

This could be someone that you know like a friend or family member, or it could be someone that has been met through cycling. As long as they are just as passionate about cycling as you are, it should work.

Conclusion: What We’ve Learned

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are determined to see results. You are never going to get anywhere if you are not able to 100% dedicate yourself to getting back in the saddle as it were. Each piece of advice that we have given in this article should help you to get back into cycling, helping you to get back to where you once were before you took a break.

There are a range of different methods that you can take to get back into cycling, and it’s going to be about finding the things that work for you. Having a strong understanding of what has happened and what to expect though, is going to help you far more than you could ever imagine. 

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