With 2023 drawing to a close, many of us share the same question. What does 2024 hold in store, and what can I do to ensure the best possible outcomes? Whether it's gearing up for your most competitive season yet, finding enjoyment in exploring new terrains, or slowing down to prioritise life's other pursuits, we were curious as to how our diverse selection of riders go about setting goals for the year ahead. So we asked three of our ambassadors: how do you set goals, how do you reach goals, and what do those goals look like? Here's what former British gravel champion, Danni Shrosbree, Barcelona-based cycling coach, Laura Gallardo Gracia, and Aussie cyclist and racer, Ryan Petrie, had to say.
How to set goals
Danni Shrosbree (29), hailing from London, started and progressed her cycling career on the road, having ridden for CAMS Basso/DAS-Handsling, but has since shifted her focus to competing in gravel and ultras. Here's how Danni sets her goals:
2023 has been a pivotal year for my progression in the sport, especially in the gravel world, with lots of time spent over in the US and Europe, racing against the biggest names in gravel. 2024 is shaping up to be even bigger, and it's more important than ever for me to set clear goals and work towards them. A lot of it comes down to the planning of setting goals. I tend to look at the year ahead and map out what my key target races are and then build a solid plan from there. If you've got a key event, rather than a race, highlight it in a calendar, write it down and work backwards from there.
Plan your training around your goals
Working on a training plan that is specific to that event or race will help you focus on how you tackle your training. For example, if I'm looking at Unbound as a target race, I'd be looking to add more volume and focus on my endurance training. For a specific road race, I’m going to tailor my training to focus on shorter and more explosive sessions. Working backwards from your main goal allows you to tailor your training and ultimately, gives you more focus. It helps to map it out week by week, too.
Keep it fun
Setting goals can sometimes be the easy part, sticking to the training to hit those goals can be the hardest thing to achieve. I would always try and encourage people to fit fun things in, rides with mates or some adventures that split the training up. I've always raced and performed best when I am relaxed and enjoying myself; it should be the same with training. Give yourself mini goals, too. Any little win that you can make in the run-up will keep the positivity high (something I am all about)!
It's important to have a plan in place to help you achieve your goals but try not to get bogged down with sticking to it. Life can always get in the way. You can always adapt as you go, but sticking to a routine is important and breaking down the training plan into weeks makes it easier. If you have a week where things get in the way, try and see how you could shift things around the following week.
How to reach goals
Holding a Masters Degree in Cycling Performance, Laura Gallardo Gracia is an experienced coach and talented athlete, providing personalised cycling coaching to clients across the spectrum of ride disciplines. She gave us some tips on how she goes about reaching goals.
Set reachable and personal goals
"The goals you want to achieve must be reasonable for you. For example, if you never have done a 100k race, maybe it's not a good idea to think about doing an ultra-distance race very soon. Maybe it's your personal goal to get into ultra cycling because it's something that caught your eye and motivates you to get into cycling, but try to focus on smaller goals first, and growing slowly, you have all your life to do it! ;) It's important as well that the goals are personal and don't get yourself into something that maybe is trendy or that other people are doing."
Be sure to enjoy the process
Sometimes we get into something that we saw ourselves doing, but we don't think about all the work and commitment we have to do to achieve it. So be sure that before getting involved in something you will enjoy the process of training, being healthy, the nutrition, getting good sleep, etc. Sometimes in races, everything can happen, having a mechanical, a crash, bad weather, or sickness can make you DNS or DNF at the race. Making the process enjoyable, getting fitter, and preparing mentally for this, is important as it will help to deal with that frustration. The race will most likely be there next year.
If you enjoy the process, it will be easier to be consistent in your training. Its very important for any goal in life (and this is one of the best lessons we get from sports) to work constantly to achieve your goal. Sometimes we dont need to train every day, because we all have other duties, and essential to keep our social/family life cared for, but one thing for sure is that we need to be consistent in training if we want to do well.
Thinking about reaching your goal can motivate you for days when you feel lazy! So a visualisation of you doing the race or event, crossing the line, preparing the bike the night before, descending this gnarly section successfully, etc.
What are your 2024 goals
Ryan Petrie (28) is a cyclist and emerging road and gravel racer from a small town called Wollongong on the south coast of Australia. He chatted to us about what goals he's set for the year.
This year of cycling for me has been a little bit of a mixed bag, from bikepacking through the Pyrenees to hillclimb events in Taiwan, alongside some personal cycling goals too. To me, the only way to describe the type of riding I like to do would be the word "challenging". (I do however think that ultra distance events are what I favour most as of late.) I am a very motivated person when there is a goal at hand, otherwise I often feel quite lost. Setting these goals is important for me, it gives me something to fixate all my attention on with my training and go all in.
2024 is shaping up to be a year Ive looked forward to like no other. My plan so far is to race as much of both the UCI Gravel and Gravel Earth Series as possible leading into the main event for the first half of the gravel season, that being Traka 360. Traka has been a huge goal for me for some time now, and I am "itching" to see how I will fare against some of the world's best on the day.
Back to Australia for some winter training and a solo mission that has been on my mind for months now. Me, my gravel bike and 3 of Australia's oldest pubs as my destination. More on that soon. Cycling for me has always been about solitude, so these solo endeavours are very important "for the mind"? Beyond that, the second half of my season will completely depend on what comes from the start of the year. There really is no telling what could happen or how the body is going to respond. Though there will be no shortage of racing and planning of ridiculous rides and adventures, I think another crack at Taiwan KOM would only be fair!