Wise Words from British Cycling
15th September 2015
Wise Words: 33 ways to enjoy cycling even more
Riding a bike is brilliant, we all know that much. But what would make riding even sweeter? Here are 33 ideas which might add a little more flavour to your cycling.
- Ride with friends
Riding with other people is one of the best things about cycling. Miles whiz by as you engross in conversation and share an experience. Arranging to meet a buddy is great motivation for getting you up and out too.
- Join a cycling club
Not all club members are racers hell-bent on tearing your legs off with fast training rides. Becoming involved in a local group will likely introduce you to like minded people and offer even more opportunities for enjoying your cycling.
- Get comfortable
If you ride strictly for leisure there’s little good reason to suffer any discomfort on your bike. Ignore the aerodynamic crouches of the speed freaks in the Tour de France. Adjust to a more upright position, wear bike shorts and laugh in the face of back ache and saddle sores.
- Commute along quiet routes
When bike commuting it’s all too easy to follow the same route you would take in the bus or car. Get a map (many councils provide cycle specific ones) and steer clear of the busy roads. Canal paths, rail trails, cycle lanes and back streets will make the ride so much more pleasant. You might even discover a whole side to the city you never knew existed.
- Stop for cafés
Sometimes I worry that folk have missed the whole point of cycling. It’s not all about the bike. No! It’s about rolling up at one of your favourite eateries on a Sunday morning and gorging yourself on soup and pastries. Or tea and cake. Maybe you’ll even go for the bad-boy all day breakfast.
- Stop at the pub
Why not? Take the cafe thing one step further. A swift half won’t harm anyone. In winter you take your jacket off and get toasty by the fire. In the summer: bask in the beer garden.
- Set yourself a challenge
Maybe you want to do 50-miles, complete the Coast to Coast or ride every single day of the year. Giving yourself something to aim at maybe the motivating factor you need. Log into Everyday Cycling and set yourself a challenge now!
- Go off-road
So what if you call yourself a roadie. Borrow a mountain or cyclo-cross bike and hit your local bridleways or one of Britain’s excellent trail centres. The lumps, the bumps, the different pace: riding off-road gives you a whole different taste of cycling. Or…
- Ride on road
No, not just those little bits you do to link your mountain bike trails together. Stick slicks on your off-road machine and roll out into the lanes on a balmy late summer evening. You’ll come back with a grin as wide as your handlebars.
- Muck around
Remember what riding a bike used to mean to you as a kid. Well maybe you can still do that neat little party trick of old. My current favourite is lying across the saddle and impersonating superman. It impresses the girls (or so I like to believe).
- Go touring
Travel/riding a bike/getting away from it all (whichever way you look at it), doesn’t get much better than sticking all you need in your panniers and heading away for a few days/weeks/years.
- Pimp your ride
Give it a clean, spruce it up, eradicate that squeaky noise coming from your jockey wheels. If your machine has fallen into a mild state of disrepair, it will be a great feeling when all is running smoothly again. Check out Wise Words: Clean your Bike for the lowdown.
- Use your bike for a different purpose
Are you primarily a commuter? Well why not take your machine out for a leisurely Saturday spin. A weekend warrior? Try riding to work for once.
- Ride at night
That’s right. In the dark. And just for the hell it, not because commuting in winter forces you to. Don good lights and hit the road. Or go off it. The sounds, sights and sensations of riding at night are sublime.
- Sprint for the signposts
Stir up a bit competition on a group ride by attempting to be the first past the signpost at the entrance to a town or village. You can even spend the interim periods talking up your chances for the next sprint.
- Do organised events
Whether it’s a cyclosportive, enduro or charity ride, organised events are designed for you to get a little something more from your riding. You might choose to enter for the challenge, the route, company or just because it’s something different from your usual Sunday morning spin.
- Have a long hard ride
Few things compare to that achy-legged feeling of satisfaction and absolute contentment that comes after a tough day in the saddle.
- Take to a tandem or a tricycle
Seriously, have you ever tried riding one? They’re an absolute hoot. A tandem can be a way of getting a partner involved.
- Focus on the descents
Road cyclists especially are preoccupied with going uphill. Flip the coin on its head. Go easy on the climbs and plan your rides around swooping down the sweetest, most sinuous downhills you know of.
- Venture somewhere new
Abandon that usual tired loop you ride week-in, week out and take to new roads. Study a map; where looks interesting? Which roads haven’t you ridden before? Plot a route that links together five villages beginning with the letter L. Leave your door and alternately turn left and right at every junction. Leave 10 minutes earlier and commute a different way in. The options are endless!
- Take a trip
Take the above point further and catch a train/bus/plane/ferry/car ride further a field. Northern France has some lovely roads. As too does Ireland, Holland and your next door county. You don’t need to travel far to get a refreshing change of scenery.
- Go singlespeed
It’s a craze that has swept both off-road and urban cycling in recent years. Going back to basics with one gear may sound regressive but many folk have been converted by the simple maintenance, elegance and fun of it.
- Work on your skills
It’s easy to hammer the mountain bike trails without seeing any great improvement in your technique. Sessioning one particularly tricky corner, berm or drop over and over again will probably pay dividends to the way you enjoy the whole trail.
- Listen to music
Many cyclists argue that sticking headphones on is dangerous and irresponsible, but many others swear by it. To an extent it depends on where you’re riding; maybe you’ll want to use just one earphone or fit speakers to your bike. Select your tunes carefully and you will be dancing up the climbs, literally.
- Ease up
Sometimes biking becomes a slog without you even realising it. You get into that rhythm. It hurts. Where’s all the fun gone? Ease up, you must have left it somewhere back down the way. Look around and smell the flowers. Listen to the whir of your hub as you freewheel.
- Speed up
Maybe you’ve been dawdling too much. Perhaps you’re missing all the excitement of riding. What would an injection of pace do to your cycling?
- Go casual
Sometimes all that faffing around before a ride, filling bottles and changing into cycling gear, is enough of a deterrent to stop you going out at all. For a quick cycling fix, just jump on your bike and pootle about in what you’re wearing.
- Take nice food for your rides
Do you really like the taste of the energy bar in your pocket and the gluey sports mixture in your bottle? Whatever’s wrong with proper nosh? You know, sandwiches, fruit and fizzy pop! Former World Champion Freddy Maertens used to race with champagne in his bidon!
- Give a ride focus
Head for the seaside, visit family or run some errands from your bike. Having a set destination or objective for your ride will give it more impetus. I often like biking home after taking day trips with friends in a car.
Find a quiet deserted lane, ride along and sing whatever song you feel like at the top of your voice. It’s like singing in the shower but without having to worry what the neighbours think.
- Jump for joy
If your local trail has got you a little stale, put flat pedals on your mountain bike, drop the saddle and head for your local set of jumps. Start small and be warned: the magic feeling of mid-air weightlessness can get addictive.
For most folk it’s a fast track to pain and becoming a slave to all consuming training regimens. But for others, the speed, thrill and social aspect of formal competition is the very essence of enjoying their cycling.
- Take a break
Sometimes you just get tired of riding and there’s nothing for it but to have some time out. Do so then, don’t force it. Whether your break lasts 10 minutes, a couple of days or the best part of winter, chances are you’ll come back to cycling fresh, ready and eager.