You’ve been riding and building your base, but you haven’t ventured very far from home. Maybe you’re nervous about riding alone too far away as you aren’t sure how to change a tube if you get a flat, or you don’t have a solid base. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the trails, want to increase your distance, or just want some company while riding. Group rides and clinics are a great way learn basic maintenance, see new trails, and make friends who also enjoy cycling.
But how do you find events? Cycling a wonderful thing, and the professionals in the industry are typically very eager to share their love of cycling with the rest of the community. As such, many local bike shops (LBS) offer a variety of opportunities for cyclists of all levels to learn more about bikes, ride with others in group rides, and build their base with indoor cycling classes. There are also a lot of people just like you looking for friends to ride with.
Visit your LBS. As I mentioned, people in the industry are very excited to share their love of cycling. Call, or better yet, visit your LBS and ask them about their offerings. My shop offers weekly, Saturday group rides, seasonal “First Sunday” Rides with a local farmers’ market, a kids “Learn to Bike” program, and twice monthly maintenance clinics where you can bring your bike in and learn how to perform routine tasks like changing a tube/tire, cleaning your bike, and making minor adjustments. Signage and flyers are prominent throughout the shop to remind customers of these opportunities, and staff always shares this information with customers about them.
Shop sponsored rides also typically offer some sort of on-ride support/SAG, and a discount to riders. Shop rides a great way to meet new people who regularly ride the area and who will be at these events every week. I’ve made some wonderful, life-long friends at my group rides, and we do more than just ride bikes together. Shop opportunities are usually advertised on their websites, and you can typically join their email distribution list by signing up online.
Social Media. Shops that offer these events typically want to drive attendance up by posting reminders on their social media outlets. Search for and “like”/follow your LBS on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter to stay apprised of all the opportunities they offer.
Facebook groups. Speaking of social media, there is more to Facebook than just the shop pages. Search for cycling groups local to you and join them. These are usually just local people looking for company to ride with.
Meetup. If you haven’t checked out Meetup, you’re missing out on a prime opportunity to meet other like-minded people and ride some new routes. Meetup is free to join, and you’ll find a variety of both cycling clubs/groups and random locals looking for others to ride with.
Sport Specific Groups. Triathlon clubs often host a variety of options for people new to the sport and include group rides, and are more likely to offer indoor cycling opportunities. I’ve also seen a variety of clinics at tri clubs, as when you’re racing you need to be able to quickly change a tube or fix a thrown chain. Do a web/social media search for local triathlon clubs and contact them to see if they offer rides and whether or not you need to be a member to attend. Note, many of these clubs require a membership or event fee of some sort to attend a ride or class.
Local Gym. If you live in a city where the outdoors is greatly valued, you may find that your local gym offers group rides and indoor cycling classes. Here in Colorado, the Lifetime has a triathlon series and offers outdoor group rides. Several of the small, independent studios offer things such as run clubs and group rides to help build camaraderie amongst members and gain new members by doing such events for free. Visit their websites or social media pages, or give them a call to see if they offer such things.
Races/Organized Rides. Many groups, clubs, and LBS sponsor or host a booth at races and organized rides, and it’s typically free to attend the expo even if you aren’t riding in the event. While you’re checking out the expo, talk to vendors, especially if they are from a LBS or local builder, or a team/club. Don’t let the fact that they may be presented as a team intimidate you – most small, local “teams” are really development teams that also have a community side to them where they host group rides to help people gain comfort with riding in a group before they progress to racing.
As you can see, there are plenty of free opportunities available to learn how to maintain your bike, as well as how and where to ride (check out these tips on having a safe and fun group ride for a pleasurable experience). You’ll make wonderful friendships with other cyclists where you’ll be free to talk everything “bike” without the eye roll that we all get from our non-cyclist friends – and since we are smack in the middle of the Tour de France, I actually have people who understand me when I’m talking about yesterday’s stage win, how cool it is to see Sagan and Cav get their first yellow jerseys, what’s going to happen inside team BMC with both Porte and Tejay, and why it’s exciting that Kittel is back.
Jenn is a Moxie Cycling Ambassador and blog contributor. Check out her bio here!