Get new riders started with cycling

How to get new riders started

 I know you, you love cycling.  Outside of your commitments like work, school and family riding your bike is your favorite activity.  You look forward to those rides even if they are infrequent for the feelings of enjoyment, freedom, relaxation, exhilaration and more that you get on the ride.  But one thing that you may not know about cycling is that it is in a big slump for the last 10+ years.  There are just not enough people taking up riding, whether it is kids or adults to keep cycling growing.  Getting someone else to ride so they can have those same experiences is one of the most rewarding things I do!  If you want to get more people riding read on about how to do it.     


Become a cyclist yourself

 Okay the first thing to do if you want more people to ride is to see yourself as a rider!  Many riders play down how much they love to ride for their own reasons but if you start to change that by letting people know that you have a passion for riding people will open up to you.  This means you may be answering some questions about riding but that is okay, it’s the first step for them, just don’t spend too much time doing it, ask them to ride.


Be gentle with them

 Okay this new person you have encouraged to ride is a mix of nervous, excited and other feelings.  Be patient with them.  Make the ride short, easy and fun.  A new rider needs to do a short ride that doesn’t scare them.  Avoid things like high traffic areas on the road or rocky technical terrain off road.  That giant climb you love to sprint up really has no appeal to someone first starting. Diving into turns feels great to an experienced rider but might just wind up in a crash for a new rider.  


Talk about the ride after

 After any good ride we all feel excited.  Before you rush off spend a few minutes letting them highlight what they liked.  Let them know you had fun too.  Avoid critiquing their efforts on the ride.  One way to bring a rider down is to focus on what they could have done better, there are times for that but let that new rider ask for help first before you offer it up…


Plan the next outing

 Before you leave set up a “date” for the next ride.  The sure fire way to let someone know that you had a good ride is to set up your next ride day right then, salesmanship 101!  You want to keep that momentum going until they can find their own motivation on their own.  Like many things making riding a habit is the key.  It’s easy to bail on rides when you first start if their isn’t a reason to go again, be that reason.


Now go out and find some new riders who might want to take up cycling just like you.

Coyote Hill 2017-rooty!

A new race course for me!  I have never been to Coyote Hill mountain bike camp before so everything was new to me.  With the holiday weekend I knew I would have Monday to recover from the travel (4 hours each way and 5 hours at the race course itself).  going long distances to events makes recovery much harder for me personally then the event itself.

Coyote Hill- Tom Masterson

Coyote Hill Camp is run by Tom Masterson.  They offer camps for kids and adults to teach them the skills to be proficient at riding a mountain bike in all conditions.  There are trails right there that have tons of technical features.  Tom is a very accomplished cyclist with 2 national cross titles under his belt, national team member and general all around nice guy.  He puts on a great race too!  Make time to go to the camp and get better.

Let’s race!

I wanted to do well in the Root66 series this season.  There are a few races in the series that are near me which cuts down on travel.  This one was far away but next weekend Assult on Al’s is right here in RI!  Lots of the races are less than two hours from here which isn’t too bad and with mid day starts for the expert races I usually get home at a reasonable time.

The Course-Roots!

I have been feeling tired all week so I didn’t have the energy to pre ride the course other than the opening climb and the short section of single track.  But from what I did ride I knew what to expect, roots, stream crossings, some mud, twists and turns and lots of quick changes in direction or pitch of the ground.  My shifter would be getting a workout!

The start-low key

Sadly as great of a course this is, the field sizes were very small but competitive.  There were multiple overlapping events this weekend with Killington Stage race etc. happening.  I lined up at the back of the group as the only rider in the second row.  I felt terrible all week and the warm up was pretty blah to so a hard start was not in the cards.  We rolled off the line and basically everyone rode away from me…

Mid race

I kind of had my plan.  From looking at finish times from last year I went for the ride a steady pace plan.  This is where I try and go at a pace that allows me to roll along without needing to slow down and also avoids crashing on courses I don’t know or have not pre ridden.  I’ve timed it, crashing is slower…I use my heart rate and my power meter to control the pacing.  For heart rate I try and keep it in the mid 150’s and stay below 165 if possible.  I look at the power on smooth climbs or open sections and try and keep it in the 250-300 watt range.

When I go with this plan I spend most of the race by myself and get fairly even time splits for laps.  The way the course works here it was very hard to tell how far behind another rider you are because you can’t see them due to the twisty turney type course, quick up and downs and lots of trees.  So from my perspective a rider I was catching would just “appear” out of nowhere.  I caught up to Brian from Fast Splits and he told me about two riders that were ahead what I didn’t realize was there were only two riders ahead of me.  I kept plugging along just like I had been.  I caught the next rider Matt after a while and kept going.   Matt is much better than me technically but he is still working on getting back in shape.  We talked after and he was just trying to find his form.

Last lap

So with the plan I was going with if I am on a better day I should potentially have some energy to spend on the last lap.  Luckily I was still feeling all right so I bumped up the effort.  I was also more familiar with the course so my confidence in lines to pick and speeds to go at were better.  I pushed a little hard in places in terms of effort and other places took better lines that made it so that my time split for the last lap was my second best of the day around 30 seconds slower than the first lap.

Towards the middle of the lap I caught up to Jeff who owns Sea Sports.  When I had a chance I passed him and then charged down the trail looking for the next rider to catch all the while believing that I was in 3rd or 4th.  I kept the pace high right up until the last field section where with no one insight ahead of me.  I got a bit deflated since I knew I couldn’t make up any more places.  I rolled across the line feeling tired but happy with my effort.

Clean up

I grabbed the bottle I tossed in the feed zone(we had some young riders handing out cups of water which I was happy to take on the last lap).  Then I headed up to the car to start getting ready to leave.  I needed food since I was sort of bonking at the end of the race and I needed to clean up since I was so muddy from all the stream crossings.  Jeff rolled up and he told me I won since I didn’t know.  I did the awards and got a bottle of maple syrup!

Shockwiz report

So  I use the quarq shockwiz to help improve my shock settings.  Here are some of the stats from the race on the forks performance.  Interestingly there were 94 “deep compression events” due to the many dips in the trail and me not timing my weight shifts.  There are a few areas where I can look to improve how the fork works.

From using the shockwiz it is important to use it in the conditions and riding style you want it to work best in.  Basically if you ride slow or on different terrain the shock set up is different.

Weeping Willow 2017 No favors for the tired ones

So another weekend adventure for me. In case you haven’t been following along I have been racing a mountain bike steady the past few years, a nice change of pace from road racing.  New challenges, terrain and people to meet.  Most people don’t know it but I got my first nice mountain bike in the Winter of 1989 and then did some racing off and on for around 10 years but very spotty since I was racing on the road a lot.  I backed off from road racing and still wanted to race but more casually and mountain bike races do that for me since they are pretty laid back.


Preamble-Saturday working for Velotooler

So in some of my previous writing I have mentioned Velotooler, a bicycle mechanic service that connects skilled mechanics with customer who need those skills but perhaps can’t make it to the shop or in this instance an event that needs mechanical support for the riders.   We had a ride on Long Island that needed support and not enough local mechanics down there so I did support on Saturday.  I had a blast, meeting new riders and fixing flats, adjusting derailleurs and general trouble shooting.  The downside was a 17 hour day…


It’s series thing

So most of the races in New England are connected to a series.  There are three that I keep track of, Root66, Kenda Cup East and the E.F.T.A. series.  I would like to say I am concentrating on one but right now I am just racing as many races as I can get too with my schedule.  The events on the Kenda cup are pretty competitive with the root66 ones not far behind and the EFTA races being pretty low key most of the time.


Training?  A little

So I did most of my training early in the week but then had Thursday-Saturday off before the race.  This meant I was rested(As you can be working long hours those days) but feeling a little flat from not riding.  Normally I would just get a longer warm up in at a very easy pace…


Late to the party/race

The problem with working a lot is that I am not prepared before the event.  This means an early start to my Sunday pre race routine.  I need to clean the bike and check everything over on it.  I need to eat breakfast and also prepare my food for the whole day.  I will also need to pack my clothing for the race and bring stuff to wash up with after so I don’t feel totally disgusting in the car on the 2.5 hour drive home.  Ideally I am at the race course 2 hours or so before the race, this time it was 40 minutes.


Bike set up

So my normal routine is to ride a complete lap of the race course.  During the pre ride I will adjust tire pressure and make any changes to the suspension settings using my shockwiz.  In my rush around before the race I left the tire gauge at home.  I lowered the air pressure a few times but I wasn’t sure where it was.  I also lowered the pressure in the fork.  Basically after talking to a few people and riding a few short sections of trail that is what I came up with.

The race-yeah it could have been better

So I am in 4th in the series so I had a front row start position which I was going to need given how I was feeling.  The start is really important in mountain bike races since it can be so difficult to pass other riders even if they are significantly slower.  I started off well settling into third or fourth.   I stayed there awhile but the riders ahead were slowly creeping away.  I had a bunch of riders stacking up behind me and was losing ground, eventually I pulled over to let them pass hoping they would help close the gap.


It is just a little easier riding behind someone even when it is on a mountain bike in the woods.  The faster rider hopefully picks better lines and does the thinking for you and there is a little bit of a draft from them and plus you now have someone to chase.  Unfortunately I faded a bit more and lost a few more spots mid race and felt like I was struggling.


I stayed behind a rider who was getting slower for a bit longer, this slowed me down but also had the benefit of keeping me from blowing up and having another set back.  Once he was getting noticeably slower I passed him and made a push for the finish.  I rallied and started to feel better and picked off a few riders who had passed me.  The final ½ mile is fast and I just caught a glimpse of the rider I let go earlier in the race.  I pedaled as fast as I could but couldn’t pass him before the line and ended up 5th.  Heart rate at the finish line was 184, which is really high for me.


Post race cool down

I went through the finish at my limit so I just kept rolling along the course for another 30 minutes at a very easy pace so I could get back to the car feeling “normal”.  I picked up the clothing I left at the start that I didn’t wear in the race, drank more water and also finished my recovery drink I brought with me.  I then headed up the road to a school to finish cleaning up, stretching and using my foam roller.  All of these steps I do right after are important to start recovering before the next workout I do and to better prepare for next week’s event.