If you’ve never tried your hand at an organised bike ride, you’re missing out. They’re not just for super extreme race whippets – in fact, many of us at the Co-op who only ever ride for fun take part in events and hang out near the back. With so many great events to choose from in 2017, make sure you take full advantage this year! Here’s 17 reasons why:
- Quiet roads and flowing trails. Whether it’s a charity ride, a sportive or a mountain bike funduro, cycling event organisers pride themselves on the quality of their routes
- Widen your horizons. Taking part in an organised ride is therefore a great way to discover some of the finest places to ride in the most beautiful parts of the country
- Buzz. When you arrive for the start of an organised ride, there’s an atmosphere of nervous anticipation, quite unlike how you’ll normally feel, say, when you set off on your daily commute. The nerves dissipate the moment you set off and experience the buzz of pedalling with the pack
- Empowerment. The start of a mass ride when cyclists take over the road offers a heart-lifting glimpse of a cyclists’ utopia
- Closed road events, such as Tour O The Borders, are especially recommended in this respect when you can, for instance, take a bend on the wrong side of the road without feeling nervous of approaching traffic – an experience once reserved for riders at Tour de France-level pro events
- Early starts. Most cycling events start early. This can be anathema to someone who enjoys a weekend long lie – until you discover how wonderfully quiet the roads and trails can be at 7.30 on a Sunday morning and how many miles you can get under your belt by noon
- Good signage guides you round every junction so you never get anxious about taking a wrong turn
- Camaraderie. Being out with like minded folk doing what they enjoy nearly always brings out the best in people
- Good chat. We recall one-time fastest cyclist in the world Graeme Obree telling us last year that he often rode at the back of sportives because that’s where you get the best chat.
- You can ride at your own pace. Some people doing a charity ride, such as the Great North Bike Ride, cycle at race pace to finish by lunchtime. Some people make a day of it and reward themselves with fish and chips for tea/supper at the Tynemouth finish. Both types of people, and everyone in between, are absolutely right. Ride at the pace you’re most comfortable with however fast or slow
- You can ride at your own pace. #2. Even on timed events such as sportives, if you don’t manage to keep up with the expected average speed of 12 miles an hour, it’s not a disaster. The worst that can happen is you might not benefit from the event infrastructure (road signage, support vehicles, closed roads, chipped timing) over the final few miles, so you simply revert to being an adult on a bike finding your own way to the finish.
- Back up. If anything does go wrong, you can call for assistance, be it mechanical or medical. If you can’t continue, the broom wagon will pick you and your bike up.
Happy mountain bikers at Muckmedden Funduro
- Ride like a pro. Informal groups often come together on big rides where riders take turns at the front to shield the riders behind. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can tick off the miles when riding the chain gang like a mini pro peloton
- You can do it. If you’ve never ridden more than 10 miles in a day, 50 miles sounds pretty daunting. Trust us: if you are reasonably fit and can cover 8 to 10 miles on your bike in an hour, you’ll almost certainly be able to complete any of the rides in our EVENTS GUIDE. Having said that, it makes sense to build up for your first big ride with 15, then 20 then 30 mile training rides, so you’ll feel comfortably confident on the big day.
- A great inceptive to keep your bike in best condition. You can usually get away with riding a bike with underinflated tyres and worn parts for a couple of miles. Longer rides tend to show up your bike’s weakest links – perhaps literally. A big bike ride is therefore a great incentive to stay on top of bike maintenance (which is always a good idea). If wielding spanners is not your thing (yet?) help is at hand. Our workshop services can transform any bike to optimal condition, or you can learn to do it yourself by enrolling onto a class in bike maintenance.
- Swag. You often presented with a medal, a t-shirt, tubes of lube, gels or bars at the ride start or finish. At the end of the Great North you’re even presented with a genuine cycling jersey, with back pockets and all, that pretty much compensates you for the ride’s £35 entry fee.
- A sense of achievement. One of the pleasures we get from taking part and supporting group rides is talking to people doing their first big ride and loving (almost) every minute of it.