Do you love riding your bike so much that you want others to share your love for it?
When you find something you love, you immediately want to share it with people. Whether it's a new song, restaurant or hobby, we have the compulsion to share positive experiences with the ones closest to us, in the hope that they agree and you have a new thing in common.
Introducing cycling to a friend is a little more complicated than taking them to a restaurant, there may be lot of persuasion, planning and reassurance to do. So how can we have them fall in love with biking, without scaring them off? We have some tips to help you when introducing your friend to the world of riding...
It's best to have them to agree to join you on a bike ride. Stashing the bikes in the boot of the car, and kidnapping your friend probably isn't the ideal introduction to a new hobby.
They may have some reservations about cycling - such as interaction with traffic if you're planning on road riding, or scary slippery roots off-road. Discuss these concerns - and layout some ground rules to make sure these concerns are minimised - for example you riding behind or in-front (whichever they prefer!) and giving them appropriate warnings.
You can even go all out and write up a contract if needed!
Choose a Suitable Route or Trail
It's important to not kill them on the first ride. If you're going off-road, choose a trail that's suitable for them and let them know beforehand how long it is, and where the tough or technical bits are.
If you're introducing your friend to the road, then perhaps choose a route which avoids heavy traffic areas and again inform them in advance of any hills (remember they might find ramps you're perfectly happy with quite steep!) or sharp corners.
This is about getting them into biking, not you having a awesome training ride. So even if you ride an easy green trail or a short loop around the block to begin with, ensure its suitable for their ability and fitness.
You have their consent, the rules have been laid out, and now you have your route. Next thing to do is pick a day, and allow more time than usual to complete the ride. Weather is always the uncertain variable in riding, but ideally take them out in relatively dry conditions.
Plan a coffee stop half way round, or at the end of the ride, where you can talk about the experience and offer any guidance.
They aren't necessarily going to know what to pack or wear, so your job is to ensure they have appropriate MTB gear or road gear, they have enough water and snacks to last the ride (plus some extra just in case!). Whatever bike you set them up with, ensure it's had a good check over as well.
Throughout the ride you need to help them stay motivated, make it fun and most of all... be patient. Riding bikes is fun and sociable, and you won't install that if you race off to satisfy your Strava stats!
It's always a good idea to end the ride with a rewarding cuppa and some cake, or a pint in some cases. Try to answer any questions they have, offer feedback and encourage them to stick it out. You'll have a new riding buddy in no time!
Introducing new things to people is a great way to bond, and for many of us, cycling is a passion of ours that we want to shout about. However, not everyone loves life on two-wheels, so don't feel disheartened if your buddy isn't too thrilled with the adventure. You're friendship is more important, and it's ok to have non-cyclist friends!
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