Compute Your Commute

How data tracking cements strong riding habits

Ultimately, it’s what you do between rides that makes you a better rider. Don’t get me wrong, improved strength, technique, and endurance can’t be achieved without long hours in the saddle. But all of that isn’t worth a lick of dust if you don’t sit in it first. This is where smart technology comes into play. Because tracking data goes a long way to cementing stronger rider habits. And it’s ultimately your habits that will determine what kind of rider you become.

American journalist, Charles Duhigg, penned a popular science knockout in 2012 called The Power of Habit. In it, Duhigg outlined the science surrounding habit, why we do what we do and more importantly how we can change. Research showed that over 40 percent of the daily actions we perform aren’t informed decisions; they’re habits. From the food we order to the way we kiss our kids at night – to the amount of exercise we get, what feels like the product of conscious decision making often isn’t conscious at all. It’s the unconscious input of a brain on autopilot.

This autopilot response is known as the Habit Loop, a three stage process within the brain that turns action into unconscious habit. Stage one is your cue. This is a trigger telling the brain to go into automatic mode. Stage two is your performed routine, which can be physical, mental or emotional. And stage three is your reward. This helps the brain determine if the loop is worth remembering for the future. Cue, routine, reward – round and round we go. And the more often we go ‘round the loop, the more entrenched our habits become.

So, what does any of this have to do with cycling and computers? Well, anyone who’s ever committed to a training regime understands that 90 percent of the effort is mental. For the most part, once you’re on the bike you simply go about your business. It’s the getting on the bike that’s hard. And that’s the job of your brain. But what if you could pre-program it to go into autopilot? What if you could take all the effort out of making the effort to ride? Well, you can! Because while many habits often emerge outside our consciousness, often without our permission, we can in fact reshape them by messing with their parts. And, as it happens, we can deliberately design our own. Turns out, you can fashion habit loops to get off your arse and into the saddle, and one of the best ways to do that is with data.