We know you're eager to get a family member, friend, or co-worker into cycling. To you, it seems so simple; you love cycling! And after many months of persuasion and nagging, they are open to trying it too. However, it's not always as easy as you think it is. Consider all the factors that contributed to your love of cycling and how it got you hooked. Apply these principles to your friends and you may just find another person to add to the group. We get it, you're excited, but you don't want to be dictatorial or load them with too much information all at once. So here are a few tips you can use:
Be a bicycle ambassador. As cheesy as it may sound, you need to be someone's "bike guy" or “bike girl.” Take time to enjoy helping others find information about bicycling routes, equipment, and events. For all you know, after that, some people will even start to ride regularly.
Encourage your friends to participate in cycling events. These friendly competitions are lovely for introducing cycling for transportation and fun purposes. The beauty of cycling events is that people of all ages and abilities can attend them.
Go bike shopping with your friend. Help your friend choose a bike and the necessary gear that comes along with it. Getting a new bike is an enjoyable experience, but one that is often intimidating at first. Having a friend together makes their first cycle shopping process a little easier. Your friend probably wouldn't have a clue about what they might need to buy before going out on their first ride. Give them some advice on what they should pack in their cycling kits. Make sure they have plenty of water (preferably in a camel pack) and snacks for when they need to replenish their energy. Also, give them a hand with their bike before heading out. It serves as a good learning curve for them in the future, and it will help them feel more secure in knowing that they have everything they need. Less time worrying about the minute details means more time to go out and have fun.
Invite a friend on one of your favorite rides. Some people like riding on their own, but riding with friends can be a delightful experience. Riding with others is also a great way to learn bicycling skills, tips, and behavior.
Stay in your lane. Car-friendly roads aren't necessarily bike-friendly. In fact, you may be giving your friends a hard time biking your drive. After a little bit of research and exploring, you'll find that there are usually more delightful bicycling streets and paths not far from where you live. Before you take your friends for a ride, walk the area first and decipher if it's easy enough for them to bike through. Ask your friends and family about the routes that they take and introduce your friends to that.
Cycling improves your physical and mental health
Studies by the YMCA have shown that people with a physically active lifestyle garnered a well-being score of 32 percent higher than sedentary individuals. There's a multitude of ways that exercise can heighten your mood, the most common one being the release of adrenaline and endorphins. The rush of happy hormones contributes to increased self-confidence that emanates from achieving new feats. These accomplishments include but are not limited to; completing a sportive or growing closer to that goal. Cycling combines both physical exercise and enjoying the great outdoors while exploring new views.
Charles Hillman conducted a study in 2007 that showed how exercise enhances brainpower and helps to ward off Alzheimer's in the elderly. Additionally, a study published in Pediatrics found that children are even more positively affected by spending time cycling —and that exercise can help handle issues such as attention deficit disorder (ADD).
A recent study discovered that elderly patients with osteoarthritis and knee pain improved their situation when cycling was included in their daily routines. This study proved that as we get older, setting aside time to exercise—even if it's just spinning on the stationary bike a few minutes a day—can be greatly beneficial.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Surprise, surprise! Cycling is great for your cardiovascular health! And it's not just because you'll fall in love with cycling! But it is a great reason. A recent study in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal spent half a decade observing the exercise activity of 1,500 study subjects. The ones active on a daily basis were 31 percent less likely to develop hypertension.
Another study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine discovered that working in high-intensity exercise can lower hypertension equally as much as your prescription medication can. Don't toss what the doctor prescribes yet, but please consider adding more sweaty rides into your fitness plan with the consent of your doctor.
Becoming physically attractive is an unavoidable side-effect
Best news ever: You're not the only person that thinks wearing spandex makes your booty pop! "A survey of 600 men and women commissioned by The British Heart Foundation found that cyclists were perceived as 13 percent more intelligent and cooler than other people, and a whopping 23 percent said a cyclist would be their preferred blind-date athlete."
Don’t show off
Showing off is one of the worst possible things you could do if you want to introduce your friends to cycling. Sure, showing off can be tempting but don’t overdo it. The last thing anyone wants is to scare a newbie off. You won’t get any new members of the community if all you do is show them the most difficult and dangerous stunts.
Don’t use the word easy
The word “easy” can often be misleading. It goes either one of two ways (1) your friends genuinely believe that it’s easy, over-compensate for their lack of skill with tricks, grow complacent in the fact that it’s “easy,” and ultimately injure themselves. Or (2) they see through the word “easy” and shy away from cycling with the group in fear that they aren’t as skilled as the other members. Say it as it is, don’t sugar coat and don’t underplay either. A cyclist’s journey is highly personal they will grow at their own pace in their own time.
Don’t coerce your friends into buying things they don’t need
Remember how we said take your friends bike shopping? By that we mean the bare necessities of cycling. No bells and whistles, just things they’re going to need to start off their cycling journey. Like when they’re buying their first bike, they don’t necessarily need to purchase an expensive racing bike. What if they don’t get into the habit of it and they end up tossing their bike aside?
Don’t micromanage their cycling journey
No one likes being micromanaged. If it happened to you, you’d get irritated. Do your friends a favor and let them be. There’s nothing wrong with steering them in the right direction when they’re going off course, but you shouldn’t watch them every step of the way either. Let them experience things for themselves and when they have questions for you, answer them! It’s all about staying humble and making them comfortable. After all, no one likes a know-it-all.
Do make the ride about the journey
Unless it’s the Tour de France, your ride isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. When you introduce your friends to cycling, it should feel more like a social activity than a competition. The end game isn’t about reaching your destination, it’s about how you get there and the stories you can tell along the way. Teach novice cyclists the value of rest and giving yourself time to heal. Everyone can attest to the fact that at first, we push ourselves way too hard to fit in, but even the most experienced cyclists like to take a break every once in a while.
Do check their bike for safety and fit
A rider should be proportional to the size of their bike — that’s a whole other topic that we’ll talk about later. But in principle, large rider, large bike. Small rider, small bike. Before going for a ride, make sure that everything is nice and tight, no loose bolts hanging around. A loose screw could easily cause accidents, or even worse, injury. And make sure that their gear is always complete, especially the clip-on pedals. Some cyclists prefer clip-on pedals because it gives them stability during their ride. If your friend is one of these people, ensure that they’re properly secured onto their pedals and they know how to dismount.
Do introduce them to fellow cyclists
As the saying goes, the more the merrier! There's no better way to become hooked on cycling than making it an essential part of your social life. While there's no doubt that you enjoy being outside and exercising, having friends to hang out with is a massive draw to cycling. Once you see your friend is capable of riding in a group, introduce them to other friends, you might have or suggest a local group where they'd make a great fit.
Do listen to their concerns
Naturally, new cyclists will have a lot of questions. No matter how bothersome or trivial they may seem to you, do your best to entertain all of them. It’s always better to have an informed rider rather than one that doesn’t know what they’re doing. Encourage your friends to ask questions and put the confusion away.
Do ease them into it
It's not the best idea to have your friend weaving through traffic or trailing down a rocky crevice on their first ride. That is the fastest way to scare them off. It's best you talk about any qualms they may have and make a pledge to support and guide them through it. Start off with something easy. If you're on the road, pick a place and time when traffic is not too heavy. For off-road rides, look for a fitting beginner route that's not too challenging.
Now ask your friends this: are you ready to ride?