Knowing Your Cycling Personality Can Help You Love Riding More!
Your friends love the ‘weekly world championships’ – otherwise known as the Thursday morning pre-dawn ride. You go… sometimes, but it’s not really your gig. So you find excuses to ditch it, but always feel bad for fobbing them off. Well, new research suggests you shouldn’t sweat it.
A recent survey of more than 800 people from around the world found that you’re most likely to enjoy – and stick to – exercise that suits your individual personality type. This research found that those with a preference for objective logic were more likely to stick to a regimented exercise plan than those who prioritise feelings and personal values. And extroverts thrived in a gym environment, while the creative types were best suited to outdoor activity.
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Though the study looked at exercise broadly, the same concept could be applied to cyclists and the types of riding that they do, says study author John Hackston, a psychologist and head of thought leadership at the British business psychology firm OPP.
“Racing, cycling clubs and such are likely to appeal to extroverts,” he says, noting that introverts may most appreciate solo rides, where they can have time with their own thoughts. “Knowing and acting in accordance with your personality – rather than doing things in the way that others say is correct – will be more engaging and take less energy,” he says.
As to whether people intuitively know their own personality type, Hackston says: “Not necessarily – our upbringing, the people we know, the culture we live in and so on all have a huge effect on us.”
As a result, we may act in ways that don’t necessarily fit with who we are, he adds.
How that translates to cycling? Maybe peer pressure forces you to attend a few too many group rides when you’d rather head out solo, or you may feel a need to have the latest tech and gadgets because they’re ‘cool’, but data really isn’t your thing.
The best way to know your personality type for sure is through an assessment such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test. If you’ve never done such an assessment, the results can be enlightening; and judging from this study, may even improve your cycling experience.
In the meantime, we’ve come up with four completely unscientific categories based on commonly seen cycling personality traits that can help you identify your unique cycling personality – and the types of riding and training you might find most fun and motivating.
1. The Data Geek
Your friends would describe you as logical, analytical, detail-oriented. You know your LT, FTP, MHR, and pretty much anything and everything you can test, measure, and monitor. Your favourite après-ride activity is downloading and analysing every metric of the day’s ride data, and plugging it into your progress chart.
How to enhance your cycling life: You’re in luck, as we’re living in the golden age for cycling data geeks. Smart trainers, smart watches, ANT+ /Bluetooth-powered devices, sensors, and apps of every kind let you analyse every training and ride metric known to man. It can be a pricey passion, of course, as high tech is rarely inexpensive. But power meters, which deliver the most meaningful training data, are more affordable than ever. Structured rides with specific workouts are for you (think spending Saturday on a long ride with a solid 60-minute FTP interval block). Or plan a cycling vacation by signing up for an advanced training camp.
2. The Adventure Rider
You’re generally curious, spontaneous and restless. Is there a road you haven’t gone down? There won’t be for long. Ditto for singletrack, doubletrack, and any other paved or unpaved surface wide enough for two-wheeled exploration. If it’s out there, you want to check it out by bike. And if you’re kind of lost, it’s all good; you’ll figure it out. But you’ll never understand those people who ride indoors.
How to enhance your cycling life: First, make sure you’re on the right bike – adventure and gravel bikes are flaring right now, in order to keep people like you happy and comfortable on rides. Then, go bikepacking or do a grassroots gravel grind (where the course isn’t marked and you need to find your own way). If you like some friendly competition, try (or create) a cycling adventure race, where you can throw some orienteering into the mix.
3. The Goal Setter
You think of yourself as results-driven, competitive, and maybe a little Type A. You like something to shoot for. Whether it’s a double century with huge elevation gains or racking up 300km a week, having concrete goals keeps you going. As soon as you tick one goal off the list you’re onto the next, otherwise you feel adrift.
How to enhance your cycling life: There’s no shortage of events you can sign up for (check out the race diary on bicycling.co.za) to get your competitive fix. But the biggest treat you can give yourself is a coach who will help you set and reach even your biggest goals without overtraining or burning out. Make the next goal even sweeter by choosing a destination event in a bucket-list location.
4. The Social Seeker
In your crew, you’re the outgoing, good-natured, people-person one. The cycling community is what you’re all about. Rolling with the pack, chatting to other riders, and volunteering to help fix a mechanical are what make you tick and keep you ticking off the kays. If there’s a fun group ride forming, you’ll be there. If it’s just a coffee and pastries ride, even better.
How to enhance your cycling life: The social cycling scene has never been richer, with WhatsApp groups popping up all over the place. If you haven’t already, check out Zwift, where you can ride virtually with people from all over the world (including your friends who are also on the platform) without leaving your living room. Then, convince your ride pals to commit to a long weekend away in a place you’ve always been dying to ride. Of course you’ll rack up some mileage, but it’s the memories that count.