To celebrate International Bike Day, we discuss the positive impact riding has on our lives with Haute Route ambassador, Ruben Kranendonk.
Today marks International Bike Day, and to celebrate we caught up with friend of the brand and Haute Route ambassador, Ruben Kranendonk. The experienced Dutch cyclist who has increased his training hours from 5 hours to 12+ hours per week is a firm believer that cycling can have a huge positive impact on your mental wellbeing. Kranendonk discusses how to set achievable goals, balancing work and training and his proudest achievements to date.
Apart from physically, what positive aspects has cycling brought to your life?
“It’s difficult not to exaggerate to be honest because cycling has brought quite a lot to my life. Adventure, friendship, passion, challenge, victory, fulfilment, discipline, structure, goals, mental-wellbeing, confidence, an outlet, network and more.”
“For example, if I’ve ridden for just an hour before work in the early morning, regardless of the weather, my breakfast tastes perfect, the hot shower (and cold rinse afterwards) feel amazing, and I feel completely energized.”
"Cycling has brought quite a lot to my life. Adventure, friendship...confidence, a network and more"
What’s been your proudest cycling achievement to date?
"Being able to connect, provide opportunities and joy to people through riding bikes. I’m a volunteer for project AMANI, an organization that aims to provide racing opportunities for African talent.”
“In 2021 we were able to connect to African cycling clubs by riding and racing online, organized one of the most epic gravel events in the world, the Migration Gravel Race and managed to get 2 groups of talents to Europe to learn from the cycling culture over here. We actually visited 2 Haute Route Events, the Haute Route Dolomites and the Haute Route Ventoux and our talents ended up in the top-3 at all events!”
“Closer to home I’ve been able to get people (back) on the bike, inspire friends by going on adventures and recently convinced 5 friends in buying a gravel bike as well. Sharing the joy of these adventures is definitely an achievement I am proud of and so I hope to continue to be able to do this until I can no longer ride a bike. Although I don’t think that day will ever come because I’ll just buy an e-bike to keep up!”
Where’s your favourite place in the world to cycle?
“My favourite place is generally the next destination I plan to visit! I love exploring the world by bike, I love nature, I love mountains and I don’t mind a little bit of sun either. Furthermore, I like to mix things up, if I’ve been riding for weeks in the mountains, I enjoy the flat lands in the Netherlands again.”
“There are some places I love to come back to and those are: Limburg (South of the Netherlands), The Eifel and Ardennes regions in Germany/Belgium because these are the only places near the Netherlands you can properly climb and have a great mix of views, climbs, rolling hills, nature, gravel, and road. Mallorca and Girona are also places I’ve visited multiple times and love to come back to because you basically have everything you need for a great ride there (and good food!).”
“Finally, the odd one on the list: Iceland. I’ve visited last year to race the Rift and do some bike packing afterwards but this destination was just brilliant. What people say about the country is almost a cliche but it’s true: it’s unearthly with the black volcanic soil, glaciers and almost zero vegetation besides moss. Last year I biked packed part of the Laugavegur trail and around Landmannalaugar which was absolutely brilliant and this year I aim to do the Rift again and bike pack through the Westfjords.”
"My favourite place is generally the next destination I plan to visit! I love exploring the world by bike..."
Everyone has busy work and social schedules, including yourself! How do you balance this whilst maintaining a steady training plan?
1. Enjoy riding your bike!
If you don’t enjoy riding or training anymore then it’s not sustainable and you won’t keep it up. I’ve seen countless people who train towards goals ferociously only to drop back to 0 after reaching a goal or event. For me mixing it up helps tremendously, mixing the seasons, the variety in training, mixing disciplines (gravel and road), destinations and more.
2. Make your training fun!
Mix things up - add a bit of competition or motivation by training with friends or challenging yourself with difficult workouts. During winter I would train via video with a few friends, and we would do horrible workouts together, but we made it through because it was hilarious! And try riding without any data once in a while, so you can just enjoy the surroundings!
3. Set achievable goals
Whether this is an event (Haute Route), a time, a local KOM, a weight, a fitness level, etc. Remember to break the goal up into smaller, realistic and achievable chunks. If your goal is a fitness level that requires you to sport 14 hours per week and your current average is 6 hours maximum, you have to make small steps/goals to achieve this because it’s impossible to do this from one day to another.
4. Share your rides with friends
Share your training moments with friends, it’s easy to say no to yourself, but if a friend is waiting in the rain/cold you cannot leave them waiting. Share your successes as well if you’re proud of them, Strava/Instagram/LinkedIn, wherever you feel it suits. Also share your goals and even better set goals with friends to have an accountability buddy.
5. Prepare and reward yourself
For my early morning training I make sure my kit and bike are ready, my breakfast is prepared, my clothes and work stuff are ready, and I don’t have to think at all to complete my training. Preparing your belongings for the day before is basically like high fiving your future self and again you can reward yourself as well. If you trained well, reached a subgoal, treat yourself with something or post it on social media or do whatever makes you feel happy, enjoying riding should be your main priority, the fitness and performance will follow!