Whether or not you’re one for New Year’s resolutions, why not take the turning of the calendar year as an opportunity to introduce a friend to cycling and get them out for a ride? It’s only natural to want to share your passion and to get those you care about to be part of the joy cycling brings you. You might even already have someone in mind, and chances are you’ll both end up being grateful if you take the initiative to get them riding.
That being said, trying something new can be intimidating, and you want to make sure you take the necessary steps for your friend to feel encouraged and supported throughout the process. Ideally, this won’t be a one-time event!
Share your experience as a beginner
One of the easiest ways to warm someone up to the idea of trying something different is to tell them what it was like for you when you began. These days they might see you breezing through your daily commute, discussing your Strava stats, and basically speaking a language they don’t really understand, which can make the whole notion of cycling seem pretty inaccessible.
Take the time to reflect back on when you started riding and remember whether there was someone who was instrumental in helping you build your confidence. Share the positive aspects of your experience, but also be honest about your own apprehensions when you were starting out. Your hopeful protégé will feel better knowing they are not alone in their uncertainty.
Establish some ground rules
Reflecting on your own novice apprehension will also help you anticipate some of the concerns your friend might have. It is important to listen closely and to respect these boundaries before setting out to ride. Whether you’re planning on road or off-road, discuss reservations regarding traffic or slippery trails. Ask questions like whether they would rather ride in-front or behind, and be willing to adapt mid-ride if things aren’t feeling right. Try to provide them with as much information as possible before setting out.
Take time selecting the right route
Depending on the circumstances, you might only get one shot to do this right, so take time planning the right route. You want it to be exciting, but you don’t want to kill them on the first ride. Make sure they’re aware of how long it is and if and where the tough or technical parts are. You need to be a little selfless here and make sure that you pick something suitable to their ability and fitness, whatever that is.
Remember that when pitching the idea, it is also your responsibility to make sure they have the right gear and supplies for the ride. Bring extra snacks and water and make sure you’ve inspected their bike before heading out. Understand that your friend probably isn’t going to want to invest in much gear at this point, but make sure they have everything they need to be safe and comfortable on the route you’ve planned.
Be a team player
Now for the fun part, the ride itself! Hopefully, this will be a pleasurable and sociable experience that leaves you both feeling like it was time well spent. But in order for that to happen, it is important to go into it with reasonable expectations and the right attitude. Your pal might need a little help staying motivated and the pace they require might be entirely different than what you are used to. Be patient and remember why you set out to do this in the first place. This is not the ride for improving your stats, take it easy and have fun.
Whether over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer, don’t forget to plan for a nice place to stop at the end of the ride for a little reward and a chance to talk things over. Be there to answer questions and to provide some feedback and encouragement. What might have felt like a laidback ride to you could seem like a big deal to them. Share in the accomplishment but also don’t be completely disheartened if the ride left them feeling less than enthusiastic about the prospect of another. Cycling isn’t for everyone, and it’s good to have friends with different hobbies. You still get major points for making the effort.
Suggest an event to keep motivation high
On the other hand, if the ride went well and your friend is excited to stick with it, consider setting a joint goal to keep the momentum going. Without placing too much burden on yourself, you can find a charity event or fun ride that you can commit to attending together. This way you’ll have a shared objective despite the fact that your riding schedules may vary. Hopefully, you’ll have a new riding buddy and can feel good about making the cycling community one member stronger!