ASK A DOZEN CYCLISTS WHAT THEY LIKE most about cycling, and you will get a wide assortment of thoughtful answers. But, as time goes on, and their experience deepens, their answers will often change. That’s another great thing about cycling: It sort of evolves with you. As you become more seasoned, the act of riding a bicycle morphs into something different, that you often love even more. The more you ride, the more you love to ride.
What is it about the ride that resonates for you?
A friend of mine, who is a long-time cyclist in his 70s, once told me that cycling can be anything you want it to be. What to race? Then race! There are races for every age. Ride for fitness. Ride long distances. Ride in the mountains. Or ride simply because when you’re on your bike the air seems fresher, colors more vibrant, and you feel more alive. Your bike can be a source of enjoyment in so many ways and on so many levels. The key question is: How do you make your ride, the best ride? Here are a few ideas of my own.
Explore the cycling culture in your town
You might find a great bunch of people to ride with. Are they cyclists you can relate to? Fitness-wise? Age-wise? Style-wise? Try a ride or two with them to see if they’re a good fit. If you don’t care for big rides or big groups, go solo, and do your own thing.
Know your bike like the good friend it will become
Is your bike comfortable to ride? Make sure it fits you well. You should know it well enough to make minor repairs if you have a mechanical failure on a ride. Become “one with the bike”. I’ve known many cyclists who love their bikes so much, they name them.
Develop riding confidence
Confident cycling comes from experience and understanding the rules of the road. It’s important to know how your vehicle (the bike) can safely co-exist with other vehicles on the road. (Check out Cycling Savvy and the League of American Bicyclists for details.) Experience also builds good bike handling skills, which when combined with preparedness are also key to confident cycling. Carry with you the things necessary for your trip, like a multi-tool, a food bar, hydration, a spare inner tube, and maybe a rain poncho.
Make it a memorable ride
In the early stages you should know where you’re riding to, a destination, a neighboring town, or around your community. Later, when you have more experience, it’s really fun to explore. Let your adventuresome spirit carry you along to less charted courses. Take in the sights and sounds and smells of the planet as it goes by, and use your camera to capture it.
Share your ride with others
Post a short ride story, with a photo or two, on your favorite social media. You’ll be delighted to see how many friends will respond with favorable comments. You can also send your story to this site for possible publishing.
Don’t think about riding your bike as something you have to do. Think of it as your escape! Make it an adventure. Make it part of your lifestyle. But beware. It can be highly addictive. Just keep this in mind: When you’re on your bike, it’s about the ride, your best ride.