Introduce Your Friends To Road Cycling
When your friends or family take a shine to the world of road cycling, needless to say, you want to nurture their curiosity. Show them what they have been missing out on all this time. But, be careful not to scare them away before they build up the stamina to get the most out of cycling.
Road cycling is no easy sell – Hey, do you want to fork out loads of money for a bike – wear lycra when you ride it – then suffer on a saddle that has less padding than a knuckle … remind me why I love cycling again. Oh yeah, it is because once you overcome all those obstacles, it provides you with almost limitless places to explore – all self-powered too. The views that this machine can provide you with are worth writing home about – or in my case – the internet.
No Strings Attached
In my experience, cycling has mainly been a solo event. I don’t need anyone else there to have a great bike ride. I can go where ever I want at my chosen speed. It also gives me an opportunity to get some me time and to have space to think about whatever I need space to think about.
Spread The Love
But, I also want to ride with my hombres too. I want to share my unbridled enthusiasm for my leg-powered two-wheeler with my friends. Having people to ride with can make it more enjoyable and it’s always cool chatting over a coffee at some wanky coffee shop that serves bangin’ pastries.
Learning to Enjoy Suffering
It takes some time to get comfortable riding on skinny-ass tyres, being sat on a seat with less padding than a knuckle and having your feet clipped in. As a seasoned rider, perhaps you take your comfort on the bike for granted. Once you add in the physical effort required to get anywhere outside of town – it is enough to make any newbie question if they have the minerals to enjoy the fantastic benefits of road cycling. So be patient with them until they take the stabilisers off.
If you have been cycling for a while – you will understand that suffering is part of the fun. But that might not be so obvious to someone just starting. Often people see pictures on social media and think – yeah, I want to go to those places. What they don’t see is all the hours of hard work that has got you into the sort of shape where you can cycle to some sweet spots with them Instagram-able views.
Bristol – Clevedon – Bristol
46KM 479M ELEVATION
Soooooo, my lovely girlfriend, Dee has taken a shine to the world of road cycling. She is somehow managing to resist the lure of lycra and has stuck with standard pedals for the time being, but who cares. She has got the bike and that is more than enough. We both got the exact same bike (cute, right!?!?!), and the first-weekend adventure is in the offing.
I am beyond excited to share my favourite hobby with her. We had attempted one serious ride together before now when she was only riding a single-speed. That effort wiped her out for days afterwards. She is adamant that she won’t make the same mistake again. But it did show me that she has tenacity and determination when she needs it. And that will literally take you places when cycling.
I had mapped out roughly a 50km ride -no snooze for a beginner – from Bristol to the coastal town of Clevedon. There is a marine pool next to the sea there, and the plan was to stop in Clevedon for a dip in the freezing water, have some fish and chips and then return home. I know she loves a challenge, and I had a feeling she could make it without getting too far from her comfort zone.
Obstacles From The Off
Unfortunately, the sky was void of any colour, as if someone had turned the contrast right down, leaving only the thick, murky tones of a grey overcast carpet cloud. That coupled with over 100 meters of climbing out of a busy town, meant that it wasn’t the best start to the ride.
Dee’s seat didn’t feel right so we had to keep stopping to try to make it as comfortable as possible. The hills were proving to be a challenge, the road full was plagued with incompetent E-scooter riders and marred with potholes. She didn’t seem to be enjoying herself much. It was the toughest part of the ride. I knew if she got through this part, she could enjoy the rest of the ride. The road surface would improve, and the E-scooters and their shitty riders would be left behind in the city.
It isn’t always easy to push someone when they are struggling. It was important to be patient. Reminding her that she could take as much time as she wanted. This is supposed to be fun, right.
I suggested we cycle just a little further up the road – if she wanted to turn around, then we could. This was the right level of encouragement. Soon after, we crossed the Clifton Suspension bridge and were out of town. Surrounded by trees on a B-road towards Clevedon, the mood of the ride instantly changed. The traffic had thinned out and we could chat to each other without shouting our heads off.
Time started to fly as we passed through the woods. Despite the cloud cover, it was beautiful. We passed rolling countryside, farms packed with sheep, cows and horses.
The road wound through the countryside and most of the way towards the coast was downhill (another thing for Dee to get used to). The speed of a steep hill can be scary if you are not used to it. The speed exaggerates the road surface. Tiny bumps feel like you are riding a bucking bronco and the bike is trying to shake you off. So bare that in mind when you get to the bottom of the hill and have to wait.
After the slow start, we made it to Clevedon. It felt like a ghost town. The pandemic had left everything deserted except for a few coffee shops. There wasn’t much there to see. Then, once we reached the coast – it all changed. It seemed like all the towns population (plus a few others) were there despite the weather.
It was a bit anti-climactic to find that the marine lake had been emptied and the pier was closed off with metal barriers. Truthfully, I was grateful to be spared the dip in the lake. I was cold enough without the extra dose. Maybe, next time I will happily freeze my nuts off when the sun is out. At least the fish and chip shop was still going strong.
Returning With Regret
On reflection, cycling home with a belly full of Englands finest greasy cuisine wasn’t the smartest idea. The coffee shops we passed on the way to the seaside had now closed. We would just have to push on sans caffeine.
The way back was laced with long uphills, but Dee took it in her stride this time. Big hills can be intimidating. They are slow going and they can easily steal your soul. I am happy to report that she smashed it. Sitting in the easy gear, enduring and maintaining a rhythm always gets the job done.
Once we got back to Bristol, I couldn’t not have a pastry. We had passed a Greek bakery (Sotiris) that was begging for my attention on the way out. Weekend rides and pastries are made for each other.
Home Sweet Home
It wasn’t all plain sailing, but it was a successful ride. We had a fucking awesome time, and Dee got a taste of road cycling. Yes, she was knackered when she got home, but I was proud of her. A cup of hot tea and a pastry was the icing on the cake.
- DONT SHOW OFF – This ain’t the time to be impressive – you are playing the supporting role. When they are starting to get a bit big for their boots – then you can smash them all the time.
- HAVE FUN – Remember that this is supposed to be fun. Pushing someone when they don’t want pushing will make them not want to carry on.
- BE SUPPORTIVE – It can be fucking tough to enjoy some times – so allow them space to love it in their way. That might mean taking it easy when they need to.
- BE ENCOURAGING – be there for them. Maybe take their mind off how much it sucks at that moment by chatting about whatever. Maybe you could entice them with the promise of a hot cup of tea when they get in – or a beer if it is hot.
- BE PATIENT – Don’t let your eagerness detract from their good time. it can take a while to build up stamina.
Cheers for reading all the way to the end. Any comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated. Please don’t hesitate to leave a few words in the comments below, even if it is just to say, hi. Please give me a follow on social and get updates when new stuff is out.
If you want to be a super-legend then you could also buy me a coffee by hitting the button below. You will literally fuel my bike rides and this site.