As we start to move into Fall, the days can be a bit cooler, and the mornings can be downright cold. It takes a little more motivation not only to get out of bed, but to put on an extra layer, cap and gloves before you even turn over the pedals and get out on your first bike ride.
But for some of you, there is missing step before you even make the decision to get out and ride. The question you have been posing to me is, “I don’t know where to ride safely.” That can be a huge barrier to riding. And there are a couple of ways to tackle this problem.
The first is to ride with a more experienced rider. He/she will be able to lead you on your first bike ride of the appropriate length and find the right course where you can feel confident and be able to concentrate on your fitness, rather than worry about getting lost or riding with too much traffic.
The second is to use a cycling app. Strava and MapMyRide both have “Routes Near Me.” This way, you can see the most popular rides in your area. I will not get into all of the data you can drill down into, but you can quickly become competitive with yourself and others as you follow these same routes.
The third is visiting your local bike shop. The experts there know the area very well and can share rides that fit your fitness and skill level. At the same time, many bike shops have an organized group rides. You will see everyone from the weekend racer, to the complete novice. Ask about a no-drop ride. This means that no matter how new you are to cycling, no matter your fitness level, no matter how you are feeling that day, there will be someone who will stay with you and get you through the ride.
I have done the majority of my riding by myself on the road. I set my own fitness goals and attained them with the help of apps and family support. I squeezed in rides where ever I could so my fitness goals would fit in with my busy family and work life.
And group rides are a great way of being part of a larger cycling community. You may not be a CAT2 racer or a thrill seeing downhiller. There is a group out there that shares your cycling style and values.