There was a time about 20 years ago that I got into a crazy multi-level marketing scheme with my then husband. In retrospect, besides being very clean (there were terrific soap products involved) the leadership outfit or 'upline' of the group encouraged us to read positive books and listen to tapes of speakers from the organization who had ACHIEVED and were purportedly rolling in cash.
Anyway, the soap-selling business was just one of his crazy ideas, but the one thing I never regretted was the reading. And, most of those books were written about positive thinking, learning how to avoid pitfalls or negativity and nearly every single one of them discussed setting goals. When learning to road ride, goals can be your friend and can be the impetus to improve your speed, your endurance and increase how serious you are about becoming a better cyclist.
Setting a goal as a cyclist is really no different than setting any other kind of goals. To steal one of the tools I read in those books, goals should be SMART - Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Timely. These elements will help you get where you want to go with your riding. If you are a new cyclist, talk to someone who is patient and experienced to help you arrive at your first cycling goals. To help illustrate this, I will walk through setting an initial goal. As I write this, I think it's time for ME to set some new cycling goals...Hmmm.
So you now ride twice a week and your longest ride has been 30 miles. If increasing your distance is your first goal. Choose a distance that you want to reach. A metric century or 100 kilometers or 62 miles is a good goal for starters. This meets the Specific criteria as well as the Measurable one. You'll know whether or not you reach it or not because it's easy to determine that distance.
Since many organized rides offer metric centuries, you can choose one of them or visit www.mapmyride.com to locate a route near you that is save and meets the distance criteria you are seeking. Find one you like and keep that route saved somewhere.
Establishing the metric century goal is definitely Achievable but it's also important to view WHEN it's achievable. Some fit cyclists can ride a couple of times and achieve a 62-mile ride. They may have a sore tush and experience cramping and aches. However, others cannot achieve that in just a few training rides and even if they could complete it, they certainly wouldn't enjoy it.
Keep in mind REALISTIC and TIMELY as you set the date. If you are brand new to exercise and riding, completing a metric century in three weeks when you can only train one day a week, isn't realistic. Putting a date on your goal is essential though. So if you are brand new, consider that you will need to ride no less than two-three times a week for about three to four months to prepare your bottom, your lungs, your legs, and the rest of your body for that 62-mile ride. If you can ride only on weekends, you will probably need to add another month or two to your training.
Specific - Metric century - 62 miles
Measurable - 62 miles, plotted on a map
Achievable - With the training, yes!
Reasonable - Coupled with the appropriate training schedule, check!
Timely - Set the date and ride, baby, ride!