If you’ve noticed a bunch of new cyclists out on the road or trails lately, it isn’t just your imagination. With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic including closed gyms and limited options for entertainment, there’s a major bike boom underway as people seek out fresh air, exercise, and a reason to get out of the house safely.
While the pandemic is largely a tragedy, one bright spot is the push that’s getting more people on bikes, which is an exciting time for the cycling community. But instead of just wondering if this trend will last, there are some things we could do to help make sure it does (either now or in the future, depending on current health advisories near you). Here’s how to welcome new cyclists to the sport.
Give a Wave
Just acknowledging another cyclist can go a long way in making that person feel welcome. The next time you see someone while out riding or at the trailhead, give a little wave, a smile, a nod of the head, or even make small talk. It’s a simple way of creating a feeling of community. You’re both out there to enjoy the simple pleasure of rolling along on two wheels, regardless of what those wheels look like and differences in riding style.
Offer Your Help
At this point, you may already be your friends’ go-to for any and all advice related to bikes. Especially for those who have recently taken up the sport, you have a wealth of knowledge to share—and you can maybe even serve as an impromptu mechanic.
But it’s also great if you can extend that courtesy to cyclists you don’t know. If you come across someone with a flat tire or a mechanical problem, offer to help by providing assistance or a spare tool. At the same time, don’t impose upon someone who doesn’t want your help or advice—like that person on the side of the road struggling to get their incredibly rusty chain to cooperate, who counters your advice with “but the chain isn’t that old.” Some people will be open to your help and others will need to learn from experience.
Slow Your Roll
Literally. If you’re on a busy trail or bike path full of other cyclists, pedestrians, and children, take your pace down a notch or two (or three), and give other trail users plenty of room when passing. Nothing leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth quite like being buzzed by a high-speed cyclist they probably didn’t hear coming. It’s our duty to be good ambassadors of the sport. For new and veteran cyclists alike, common courtesy and self-awareness in general are necessary in all such public recreational spaces.
While you’re at it, get used to yelling “On your left!” (Or at least get a bell.) When someone does move over to let you more easily pass, be sure to thank them. If your goal is a fast-paced training ride, stick to roads and paths less traveled.
Offer Route Suggestions
Speaking of bike paths, one of the best ways to welcome a new cyclist to the sport is by letting them know where all the good roads and trails are. Cycling can be intimidating at first, and where you ride can make all the difference. Clue them in on websites and apps that can help with this, such as Strava, Trailforks, Map My Ride, and more.
Invite Them On a Ride
Even better than just suggesting good cycling routes: Offer to join them on a ride. You can show them those routes in person. It’s also a great opportunity to explain riding etiquette, whether for group or solo rides, and answer even more of those beginner questions, like “should I wear underwear with my cycling shorts?” (That answer, of course, is no.) If you do, be patient and stick with them; go at their pace. The ride should push them a little but be enjoyable and well within their range of ability. You might even gain a new riding buddy along the way.
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Spread the Wealth
If you’ve been riding awhile, chances are you have more gear than you’re actually using. Take inventory of your gear and figure out what you’re willing to part with and haven’t used in forever, including old bikes gathering dust in your garage. If you don’t know any new cyclists to whom you can donate stuff, look around for cycling-specific nonprofits in your area that might accept it, like your local National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) league.
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