Surprisingly you can ride the same place on a bike several times and have totally different experiences. Greatness in a bike ride is dependant on so many things – the weather, your mood, your bike, the ride, the people you are with and your intention on the day. Having a great experience can be incredibly satisfying and with a little common sense and some fore thought making a day on your bike great should be simple.
What is great? Simply – it is way better than average. A great ride will be different for different people – it is a very personal, individual experience. It may come down to a single moment on your ride that made you smile and kept you smiling all the way home or maybe it was a collection of memorable moments.
There are all sorts of things you can plan and do to make sure you establish a good platform to help you have an enjoyable day on the bike. Riding a bike does present challenges at times but with these steps in place it will help make sure these challenges don’t scale up and become barriers to riding your bike.
Lets look at those steps, that good platform so YOU can have a ‘great day’ on the bike.
Is it doable?
The ride needs to be doable for you and any riders you are biking with. Doable means enjoyable, and enjoyable will lead to consistency, resulting in YOU riding more places, more often.
How much time do you have and how far should you go? Answer these questions then work out your start and end point – is it doable?
What skills will you need to do this ride? Consider the surface of the ride (tarseal and compacted gravel is generally easier than loose gravel, grass, or sand), the hills, the likelihood of obstacles that could slow you down, or traffic levels and flow. Talk to people, or read stories from people who have done it before – is it doable?
What level of fitness will you need to do this ride? Consider the endurance required to complete the ride, the strength needed to get up that hill or the strength required over a long ride – that long gradual hill, or numerous repetitive uphill climbs – is it doable?
What about the weather/time of day? Will it effect the ride, is it going to be windy? Will it rain, could you get cold or too warm (are you accustomed to the heat – riding in the middle of the day in the open, in the middle of summer puts you at risk and needs to be planned for). It is amazing how much wind/rain can change the time and energy required to do a ride. Will you need lights or reflective gear? – is it doable?
You will have a much better experience if you are comfortable on your bike. Make sure your clothing matches the riding conditions. Clothing needs to stretch and not restrict movement (What to Wear on a Bike). It also needs to protect you and regulate your temperature (Women’s Riding Clothing – Fabric Choice). If it’s cold think layers, breathable fabric and keeping fingers and toes warm. If it’s warm think breathable, sun protection and air circulation – like zippers. If it’s raining think waterproof. Last point about clothing…if the worst happens and you do fall off…always more scary to think about than actually do…your clothing provides a barrier between you and the ground so take this into consideration especially if you are riding off road (mountain biking) or at a reasonable speed. So short shorts, a singlet top and jandals do not make clever clothing choices.
- your bottom on the seat = padded cycling pants (goUnders for Kids, Bike seat sweet spot, Fancy pants- why wear padded bike shorts?)
- hands on the handlebars = biking gloves ( bike brake levers)
- feet on the pedals = socks and appropriate footwear
You need to be comfortable at each point of contact. Also consider how your body works, your body position between these points of contact. (Chi Riding – Tip 1 – Riding Position,Tip 2 – Core control, Tip 4- Breathing)
Are you riding the right type of bike for the ride you are planning? If not, can you make adjustments to the bike you have to help with the experience…or borrow a friends bike for the day. If you find that you are enjoying a different type of riding more – do you need to change the bike that you have? Matching your bike to the type of riding you are doing, while not essential, it does improve your experience (How to Buy the Right Bike)
Water & food…if you are riding for more than an hour (with kids make that 30minutes) you need to have access to water and food. Even if you are planning a stop at a cafe or food place…what happens if you don’t make it for some reason?
If something goes wrong with your bike would you know how to fix it? Do you need a back up plan/someone to call if you can’t fix it? Is simply walking home or back to the car an option? Start simply with a basic tool kit and what these tools can help you do, e.g. pump up your bike tyre and build from there.
Do you know where you are going? Do you need a map, can you read a map? Do you understand the grades or colour codes on the map? Having access to a good map and being aware of signs is a basic way to eliminate any confusion over which way to go. Gather together as much information as you can about the route you want to take.
Should you be riding this trail for the first time with someone else? Or will there be other riders around to help if you need any assistance? Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- You and safety – Am I safe to goRide? A checklist to complete that ensures you are safe to goRide.
- Your bike and safety – goRide pre-ride bike safety check – is it safe? A checklist to complete pre-ride so that you know your bike is in working order.
If you have worked through the points above then you will be more likely to enjoy and have fun on your ride.
There is so much fun to be had on a bike – the pace you go, being close to and connected with nature, your ease to detour from the trail…. I wonder what is around this corner, and your ability to stop and get off your bike means you get to discover all sorts of things along the way. Sometimes you will know about and plan to enjoy things and then there are those wonderful surprise discoveries.
Some things to consider discovering on your ‘great day’ on the bike
- Creeks, rivers, lakes, the sea, the beach – to throw or skim stones into, to paddle or swim in.
- Cafe/Winery to rest, relax and enjoy the company and atmosphere
- Open spaces, wildlife, a park to throw a ball, wander through and within
- A different way home or area of town you haven’t ridden through
- Playgrounds (don’t forget school playgrounds they are always well equipped for a range of ages)
- An ice cream shop or place to have a picnic
- Parts of a trail, a place in your region you haven’t seen on a bike, a local tourist attraction/art gallery/museum.
- A tree to enjoy a chapter or two of your book, or a favourite magazine, to sit or lie in the shade.
Don’t just ‘do’ the ride, ‘be’ in the ride? and I wonder what you will discover (see Chi Riding – Tip 3 – Engaging the Senses )
Does it ‘fit’?
Does the ride ‘fit’ with what you want to achieve? Is it simply getting some fresh air, sunshine, feeling healthier. Using your bike to get somewhere rather than the car. Or joining a group to meet new people and enjoy the company of others. Perhaps to get out with friends and family. Maybe it is to have wonderful feelings of accomplishment/acheivement – YOU DID IT! For you it maybe improving your skills by spending some time on a pump track, in a mountain bike park or at a skills park. Discovering somewhere you have never been before. Getting to somewhere you need to go? Maybe you are getting prepared, or training for a bigger, longer ride. Maybe you’re a mum and you want to ride because you want to be a role model for your kids or to get the kids out of the house, closer to nature and off that computer.
Did you go for a ride? Did you get out there?
Did you have a ‘great day’ on the bike?
What went well, what could you work on for next time? It’s all about taking steps and small gains… oh the places you’ll go, the things you will see.
Look out for the series A ‘great day’ on the bike” for some ideas of where you might choose to ride your bike, things to discover along the way, and riding snack options. We would love to here about your ‘great days’ on the bike.
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
Related goRide Resources:
goRide is a shared journey, so we would like you to assist in guiding it along the way. Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback are welcome. Thank you for being a part of the goRide way.