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5 Ideas for a ‘Wild Ride’ That Doesn’t Need to Be Gnarly

By Charlotte Murray

People ride their bikes for various reasons. Be that for physical fitness, mental wellbeing, popping to the shops or just for an excuse to be outside. As new cyclists, we can often see the only side that is presented to us, i.e. those rides that are particularly picturesque or really bumpy, the videos of fast descents or the Strava PB’s from professional mountain bikers. What we don’t see are those quiet moments of reflection, the slow rhythm of a climb, the bit where you prop your bike up against a tree to eat your sandwich with the birds. Initially, we might not realise the possibilities of our two wheels. So it helps to have a little inspiration when you want to have a bit of a wild moment but don’t need the gnarly ride that seemingly has to go along with it. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

1) Take a flask

Many cyclists will prioritise taking as little as possible. The less stuff you have, the faster you can go. But that’s not all it’s cracked up to be. By replacing one of your water bottles with a small flask, you could ride your bike down to your nearest river and take in the scenes and sounds with a hot cup of coffee. There’s something to be savoured in taking it slow. If your flask doesn’t fit in your bottle cage, you could strap it on with a voile strap and hope for the best! But I’d recommend investing in one that does, coffee rides make for important additions to a training plan.

Backpack with thermos
Why not enjoy your break with a cup of coffee? © Profimedia

2) Take your evening meal

A bit of a step up from the flask but there’s something magical about eating your meal outside. One-pot meals are usually best for this activity, think a shepherd’s pie or a pasta dish. You can pop it into your (slightly larger) flask, load up your bike and cycle to a quiet or picturesque spot. It helps to have a warm layer so you can wrap up and enjoy your dinner with a view, regardless of the temperature. Just don’t forget a fork! Maybe some condiments if you’re feeling extra fancy.

3) Forage for food

One that is definitely a more seasonal activity, foraging for food can be a really rewarding experience. Of course, this activity does require some careful consideration or a bit of research but it’s a great way to get to know your local area. Whether that’s investigating your local woods in April for wild garlic or blackberry picking from the hedgerows at the side of the lanes in late summer. These can all be experiences that connect you to nature and can feel a little ‘wild’, especially if it’s not something you did growing up. Tip: leave picking mushrooms to the experts as they can be easy to misidentify.

4) Go birdwatching

Spice your ride with a little birdwatching. © Profimedia

Birdwatching and cycling are a niche crossover but it’s surprising how many people enjoy both. Whilst it’s not always easy to ID a bird whilst riding 40 mph down a hill, birdwatching by bike can be a way of forcing you to slow down and take note of your surroundings. Better still, cycle to a body of water or a bench amongst trees and observe what you see. You could take a small notebook or utilise one of the many birdwatching apps available online. A pocket-sized bird ID book won’t cost much either and it can be a fun activity to pass the time whilst learning something new. You could also cycle to your nearest nature reserve, or find out where there might be a bird hide on which you can prop your bike and watch from under shelter. Take a sandwich and make a day trip of it.

5) Go off-roading under a full moon

Maybe slightly more ‘gnarly’ than the rest as off-roading in the dark is a pretty wild adventure. With good lights (not just the moon), a short off-road section can be an exciting way to squeeze in an after-work adventure. The full moon just makes it feel that little bit extra special, and twinkling stars top it off. You’re sure to sleep well after you’ve come down from the adrenaline high.

Bike rides don’t have to be long and fast, leaving you exhausted and craving carbs. Those can be fun, of course, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy your bike. When you’re short on time or resources, utilising your bike to provide you with a bit of a ‘wild’ moment can leave you rejuvenated and ready to take on those bigger rides – or not!