We all know how awesome it is to be a cyclist—but sometimes it’s nice to share the love. Many cyclists have tried valiantly over the last century or so to turn their friends and loved ones into members of our community, with varying degrees of success. It can be done, but it needs to be done with care—push it too hard, and it could backfire.
Here are a few simple tips to help get your friend or loved one to join in to the 2-wheeled lifestyle.
1. Keep It Accessible
There’s nothing cyclists love more than geeking out about gear and numbers—but you want to avoid making things sound harder or more complicated than they really are. Keep it simple, easy, and accessible.
Here are some common errors to avoid:
- Resist the temptation to go all-out with gear, and focus more on what they want instead of what you think they need. Example: if they don’t feel comfortable in lycra cycling wear, try turning them onto more relaxed gear like apparel from Club Ride or Performance.
- Don’t push them into getting a super aggressive or racy bike (at least not at first). The bike they pick should be one they like and feel comfortable on.
- Don’t push the use of clipless pedals, aerobars, or other things like that at first. Wait until they get more confidence on the bike.
As they get more into it, hopefully all that stuff will come with time. But to start, just keep things simple. Here are a few additional tips, from our Learning Center.
2. Make It Fun
Don’t just get them hooked up with a bike and a helmet, and expect them to go out and ride. When you’re just getting into cycling, it helps to have someone who can encourage and guide you on your journey. Ride together and get out and have fun. But tread carefully here, my friend.
If you try and drag your friend or significant other on long rides or push the pace too hard, you risk making them think cycling is too hard. You want cycling to be remembered as something fun and a respite from every day worries, not something that they had to suffer through.
Try picking short scenic routes or a bike path to start with, and ride at a pace where you can talk and hold a conversation. If you find yourself unconsciously pushing the pace harder, try riding in the little chainring, which will act as a hobble and prevent you from riding too fast.
3. Prioritize Safety
Even if you get everything else right, it will all be for naught if your your new cycling buddy doesn’t feel safe on the bike. And feeling safe on the bike is very important. While most experienced riders have the bike handling skills and experience to ride in traffic with cars zooming by, it can be a scary experience for newer cyclists. To start, pick routes with little traffic and lower speed limits, or head for the bike path. Also try riding during off-peak hours, so there will be less traffic. And remember, if they express any concerns or fears, don’t scoff or dismiss them as unfounded. Try and accommodate their concerns as much as possible, so they’ll have the confidence to go riding again.
For more information, check out our article about riding defensively.
Did we miss anything? If you have any tips for helping someone get into riding, feel free to share in the comments section.