The more years and more miles I put on a bicycle, the more diversity I see and enjoy regarding bicycling. By this I mean there are so many different types of bicycles and bicycling events available to take pleasure from. There will always be your purists who snub their nose at anyone who doesn’t own a campy equipped DeRosa road bike or some other such nonsense.
I’ve ridden with these types, but I’ve never been so obsessed with one facet of cycling that it precludes me from trying new things or dictates that I snub my nose at a fellow cyclist.
If we want to continue the growth of this wonderful sport, then we need to have patience and an open mind regarding anyone who wants to venture out on two wheels.
I personally have dabbled in several areas of cycling and found joy and unique experiences in each one.
The following is a brief list of the diversity of two-wheeled fun:
- road cycling
- off-road / mountain biking
- bicycle camping
- road racing / track racing / triathlons / duathlons
- charity tours / club rides / family cycling / tandems rides
- cross state tours / cross-country tours
I’m sure there are some I’ve missed and even some which seem redundant, but each has its own unique flavour of cycling, competition, camaraderie and enjoyment. I’ll provide a brief synopsis of basic road cycling and see if I can pique your interest in this awesome sport.
Basic road cycling
I know this sounds mundane compared with the excitement of careering down a forest track on a mountain bike, but it can provide great fitness benefits, help reduce stress and is just plain enjoyable. Personally, I believe you should try to find a rural area away from the hustle and bustle of city traffic and noise. I realize this may be difficult for some people who live in a very large metro area but sometimes the drive to the country is worth it. It only takes a minute to put your bike on a bike rack!
If you have to drive, usually a church or school can provide you fairly safe parking without offending anyone. So get out your map and find an area to bicycle from, if you can start from your home then great. Either way, get a detailed local map. Usually a good county map will do, one that will provide enough detail to get you back to your starting point. I usually prefer to know at least a little about the area I’m going to ride at. So I’ll pull out my map and check out the roads, small towns, parks, rest stops, etc. Then I’ll make a rough plan as to what route I’d like to travel. Depending on where you’re going to be you may find a large diversity of road conditions. There may be well-paved roads or possibly mud and gravel lanes or maybe something in-between. So be prepared for possible detours or rough roads and figure a little extra time in for such an event. Have alternate route possibilities throughout ahead of time also; just in case of road conditions, fatigue or the onset of bad weather. Flexibility is the keyword for road cycling.
Give yourself ample time to cruise the roads, enjoy the scenery and to stop and eat the wild blackberries along the way. Or stop by a creek and cool off your feet. Plan on enjoyment rather than a certain distance. With road riding you can plan on ten miles or 100 miles depending on your fitness and desire. Pick a destination such as a state park or a favourite restaurant then take the most diverse, rural route you can map out. You can also plan a nice loop course from your start point, which may provide minimal backtracking.
One aspect I’ve had to really emphasize with some riders is, this is not a race; pick a nice moderate pace and stop when you feel you need to. This is the type of ride, which is most conducive to enjoyment, relaxation, and stress education. Leave the heart rate monitors at home and the ‘pound out the miles’ attitude for the training rides.
Go by yourself or grab a friend and go. See the countryside and enjoy the farms, trees and birds as you shed the stress of everyday life.