If you were going to get a friend who only listens old time country into rock and roll, you would not make them a Frank Zappa mixtape. It would be hard to listen to, confusing, annoying, and cheezy, often all at once. You would not lend them your stack of Lou Reed’s wandering 70’s output, nor would you let them borrow your treasured tarnished copy of King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon. You don’t convert people to your cause by giving them the most outrageous, over the top intro you possibly can. You slowly indoctrinate them, and when they are hooked, well into the indoctrination process, that’s when its ok to pull out all the stops.
I’m talking about lyrca. Flashy helmets. Carbon bikes, click in shoes. Long horrible climbs in the heat of summer. Heart Rate monitors. When you want someone to get into cycling, get them into the fun part first, so they get to know how enjoyable a bike can be. Here’s how:
-Dress down. Looking like a cyclist might make you feel fast, but it also makes the ride seem like it’s all business, and will be conducted at a fast uncomfortable pace. Dress like you are going to a barbeque. Wear normal shoes and use normal pedals. Tell them to do the same, the tight pants can come later, if ever.
-Pick a low traffic, super scenic route, without a ton of hills. People seem to love covered bridges, so that’s an idea. The ride, traffic wise, has to be as non-threatening as possible. And if it just goes by a bunch of boring stuff, it will be blah.
-Rest at the top of hills. Look at the sky, the cows, the flowers. Don’t stare at your slow friend as they suffer up the hill. When they get to the top, don’t shove off immediately, give them a few minutes to get their heart rate into the low 200’s. Offer them a snack, not magic food like a gu, but a snack. A cookie, or half a banana. Magic food comes later.
-Have a cool destination that is cheap and fun, ie Ice Cream, or an overlook, or a picnic table by a river. Take 20 minutes and eat a sandwich, let your friend cool down.
-Let them borrow your better bike, and you ride the old crappy hybrid covered in cobwebs. If you are riding say, a Cervelo R3, and they are riding a crappy steel French 10 speed with a mattress saddle, they are going to suffer horribly, and you are going to be riding with no effort. Reverse that, so they can see the value of a good bike, and how easy a good bike is to ride. If you have a bike with a basket, and one gear, perfect, that’s your bike for this ride.
-Tell them it’s ok to walk, and when they get off to walk, walk with them.
-Don’t talk about training, puking, sweat, chamois butter, lactate thresholds, hill intervals or cadence. These are applied to cycling when people get serious. People don’t start with race ambitions, and talking about it just makes people nervous.
-Teach them how to shift, with patience.
-Don’t watch them descend, just lead by example. Don’t constantly look over you shoulder at how slow they are.
-Tell them how good they are doing. Take pictures and brag about how well they did on Facebook or whatever it is you use.
-Invite them back, repeat.
Bike Doctor Shop Rides:
Sunday evenings: If it isn’t raining horribly, meet at the shop at 5pm. We’ll hit the road around 5.30 for a 30-45 mile road ride at a decidedly casual pace. We occasionally hit dirt roads, but it’s a road ride so you can bring a road bike, we promise. The terrain will be hilly to downright mountainous, but done at a pace that won’t leave you gasping for air. We even take breaks. Bring these things with you: Bright Lights (front and rear), spare tube (at least one), pump/co2, some food, some money for soda or whatever along the way.
Tuesdays: 8am road ride from Starbucks on 7th street. 45 miles or so right now, by the end of the summer we will be doing 80ish. This is a long ride, with no fixed schedule, and ridden at ‘James touring pace’ which is to say slow. Climbing, back roads, stuff you maybe haven’t seen. Bring: food, money, tubes.
Wednesdays: Hill ride with Cory, Brian is on Vacation!. Meet at the shop around 5, wheels down at 5.30 in the evening. Fast (but not insane fast) road ride up into the mountains, back down again, back up again, and down again. Back before dark but bring a rear blinkie in case of mechanicals.
Thursdays: Mountain ride with Team Flying Dog. Meet at 5.30 at the foot of the dirt section of Mountaindale Road, by that big maintenance shed. Hilly, technical watershed mountain biking, but a relaxed pace. Back before dark.
Sunday Mornings: Women’s beginner road rides from the Starbucks in the Westview Shopping center. 8AM 12-18 miles on low traffic roads. Rides will be led by Tracy, who works here, and know the roads well, and all that good stuff. These rides are starting to get a good turn out, but the mileage will go up soon, so get in on it before it does, so you can start easy.