Road cycling on your own can be a great experience. It’s a good opportunity to have some time to yourself, and you can go where your bike takes you (or where you take your bike). Although if you’re new to cycling, it’s a good idea to go with other cyclists for company, who will also be able to help if you have any issues with your bike along the way. But if your friends aren’t as keen on donning Lycra and taking on the Great British weather, there are other ways to make new cycling buddies:
- Join a cycling club: Whether you are a seasoned racer or a complete beginner, there is nothing better than riding with like-minded cyclists to develop your skills and challenge yourself. Buddy-up with someone of the same ability as you ride, and you’ll be able to progress with the help of the more experienced cyclists too.
- Get into the racing spirit: Why not sign yourself up for a local race? There are rides for beginners popping up all over the country. It will give you a goal and something to train for, and you can get chatting to some other beginner cyclists too. Or join a charity team and get your workmates involved.
- Meet-ups: Are everywhere, and are a great way to meet other cyclists. You can get tips and plan regular rides with a mix of abilities. And they’re usually free to join, and a nice social thing to do.
Download an app: There are lots of cycling apps to choose from, and you can see when other locals are planning a ride, or if you’re looking for a new cycling route to discover.
Now you’ve caught the cycling bug, there are a few ways you can try to encourage your friends to take up road cycling too:
- Talk to them about cycling: Ask them if they had a bike as a child? Did they enjoy it? Find out why they stopped cycling, or if they never learnt you can help to teach them. Talk about the reasons you enjoy road cycling and the health benefits it brings, and how easy it is to start. Maybe introduce them to a few of your new cycling friends too.
- Let them take your bike for a spin: If they haven't cycled in ages, lend them your bike so they can go for a little ride in the park. Just take it slow and get them back in the saddle to see how they feel. Give them lots of encouragement and watch their confidence grow.
- Help them with their bike: Offer to help repair your friend's old bike, or go with them if they decide they want to buy their own. Show them the basics, like pumping up a tyre and minor repairs so they feel a little more confident if things should go wrong.
Plan a route together: Ask them where they’d like to go. Choose somewhere flat, with minimal traffic. Keep rides short and have a nice finish point, like a pub for a rewarding lunch, or a nice picturesque landmark so you can be proud of getting to the end of your route. As the more experienced cyclist, you should try and take any kit you both might need, including enough snacks and drinks.
Can I go road cycling with my family?
Cycling is a fantastic way to spend quality time with your family. Children of all ages can go cycling, and there are plenty of family-friendly cycle routes across the country. First, it’s a good idea to get some practice around your local park so the kids can get used to pedalling close to you, braking and changing gear. And go slowly so that everyone can stay together. If you're planning on being out for a few hours, take regular breaks and make sure you pack enough food and drink. If you’re unsure how long your little ones can pedal for, it might be a good idea to invest in a bike trailer or an attachment which turns young children’s bikes into a tag-along on the back of an adult’s bike. Stay safe with helmets which fit everyone properly, and suitable clothing, and you’re sure to have a fun day out.
What are the best apps for beginner cyclists?
There are lots of useful, and free cycling apps which can track your ride, help with route planning and other useful tools.
- CycleStreets: is great for finding routes to suit you, like suggesting quieter, or less busy routes. It shows speed and distance covered, and has a live map to track your journey, and it can give you directions if you get lost.
- Map My Ride: is great for discovering new cycle routes, which you can then save and share with your friends. You can also see what your friends are doing on your activity feed, join challenges to compete with others, and win prizes. There’s also audio feedback, which gives you stats on calories burnt and other useful information.
- Cyclemeter: includes a calendar where you can track your rides, and schedule your next ones. It has encouraging announcements to motivate you during your ride, just like having your own coach. It also has a handy bar and pie chart feature to summarise your workout.