Do be THIS CYCLIST

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Last week I introduced you to THAT CYCLIST – the rider in the bunch who does small things that have a large impact on the group’s enjoyment of the ride. This week I want to introduce to you to THIS CYCLIST. She’s the woman (or man) that finds the fun on her solo rides, shares the cycling love on her group adventures and injects a breath of fresh air in a cycling community at large.

What are the typical behaviours that THIS CYCLIST engages in regularly? I share them below. Rest assured that I absolutely understand the importance of training to meet a specific goal, analysing power data and otherwise following a programme. I also understand that our passion for the sport isn’t only achievement-motivated. THIS CYCLIST knows how to enjoy the ride en route to her success – however she defines it.

Go and explore
There is nothing better than getting out there and exploring your surroundings. It doesn’t have to be on the road bike or in lycra. It might just be heading out to different suburb in search of a new breakfast spot or finding some gravel and climbing a new mountain. It could be a new mid-week bunch ride or riding a new bike path with your friends. There are so many adventures to be had on the bike, just get out there and have one!

Stop and smell the roses
Take time to stop to take a photo at the top of the mountain. Slow down to admire the sunrise. Choose the slightly shorter route if it allows you time to have a post-ride coffee and chat with your mates. Enjoy your surroundings, breathe the fresh air, strengthen the bonds with your riding buddies and soak up the freedom cycling provides.

Just ride your bike
Sometimes the #NoGarminNoRules applies. Leave the Garmin at home, stop looking at your stem, stop worrying about that Strava segment, stop analysing your watts and turn off your iPod. Ride your bike because you love it not because you need to beat your mates to the top, get that personal best, or maintain a certain average speed, power or cadence.

Support your local bike shop
Buying in store means the money that you spend stays in your community. You get personal customer service, answers to your questions, and build a valuable relationship between the mechanic and your bike. I’m not saying don’t buy anything online. I am saying that the service that you get in person often outweighs the online discount.

Be that friendly bunch or person on the road
Lead by example. Smile. Share the road. Ride safely and predictably. Wave, nod or say hello. Just as you would off the bike, treat others on the road the way you like to be treated. If you see someone who might need help, stop and ask them. Spread cycling karma at every possibility.

You are not too pro to say hello
Make sure that you remember your ps and qs out there on the road. Don’t forget to say hello to your fellow cyclists. Take the time to exchange a few words with other riders if you are both stopped at traffic lights. Remember, you share a love for cycling, which is a great starting point for any conversation.

Overcome your fear
Try something new. Are you keen to make the jump from indoor spin class to riding on the road? Can you ride on the flats but want to tackle the mountains? Are you eyeing a century ride later this year? Have you always wanted to try cyclocross? What’s stopping you? Ask for help. Borrow that bike. Attend a clinic. Sign-up for that new event. Just get out there and do it. You’ve got nothing to lose and so many more new experiences to love.

Listen to other people’s advice
Learn from others. There is A LOT to learn from the people in your cycling community so take the time to listen and learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We all start somewhere!

Give back to your club or community
You don’t have to do much. It could be something as small as signing a community petition or smiling at the new kid on the road. You might want to volunteer at an event or act as a mentor for a less experienced rider. Figure out what suits your skills and schedule – and have at it.

Ride with someone new
Have a friend that would like to start riding? Offer to take them out for a ride. You never know what that first ride will lead to for a new rider. Maybe your friend isn’t ready to kit up and head on out on the road. That’s ok, too. Meet her wherever she is ready to start – maybe that’s on a local bike path on a town bike or figuring out how to commute to work. Your patience and experience could be exactly what she needs to get started.

About the author

The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.

She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on Twitter and Instagram and Strava.

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