Last month, I was fortunate enough to take part in Ride the Rockies, a charity ride that took us through the Colorado Rocky Mountains (U.S.) on a seven-day supported ride. During this week of riding, we climbed some of the most beautiful mountains in the world and saw breathtaking views around every corner. However, the most awe-inspiring part of the ride was actually seeing nearly 2,000 people riding bikes to support local communities and charitable organisations.
Charity rides are a fantastic way to give back to a community or to support a cause while doing something fun. Riding in these events is a rewarding experience that cyclists of all abilities can appreciate together.
Whether you’re taking on a week-long adventure with thousands of people or joining in on a short pedal around town for a local charity ride, it’s important to prepare yourself and your bike for a successful and fun day of giving back through cycling.
Here are our top tips and tricks for preparing for a charity ride:
1. Train for the distance: Plan several longer training rides in the weeks leading up to your event. Include one ride at approximately 70-80 percent of the charity ride’s distance.
2. Equipment check: Perform a detailed bike check before the event to make sure your tyres are in good shape, your drivetrain is shifting properly, and that the bike is running smoothly from top to bottom. You can also visit your local bike shop for a professional (and stress-free) tune-up.
3. Food options: If you’re a picky eater or have dietary restrictions, don’t rely on the snacks provided at aid stations. Instead, make your favourite ride foods ahead of time and bring them along for the ride.
Riding in Groups
Charity rides often bring out thousands of participants to ride together in large groups. These tips will help ensure you and the people around you have a safe and fun day on the bike.
1. Bring a bell: Attach a bell to your handlebars for an easy way to tell others where you are. Ring the bell when passing riders or to let them know you are near so they can move over and let you by.
2. No headphones: Instead of wearing headphones and listening to music, get to know the other riders and you’ll probably meet some very interesting people. Listening to music is also a safety issue and most events prohibit the use of headphones while riding.
3. Ride steady: Keep an even pace while riding in groups. Sudden accelerations or jerky movements can spook riders and cause accidents.
During the Ride
1. Utilise the aid stations: Stop at the aid stations and fill up on fluids and snacks (your own or those provided by the event). This is a great time to meet other riders and sit back and enjoy a little time off the bike.
2. It’s not a race: Ride a comfortable pace that you can sustain for the entire distance. If you’re riding with friends, keep the pace steady uphill and regroup if needed at the top.
3. Know the course: Not all events will have the course marked or have volunteers at the corners to make sure you turn. Bring a cue sheet or notes on the route so you don’t get lost or end up riding more than needed.
4. Have fun!: Remember what you’re riding for and encourage other cyclists around you to enjoy the ride as well.
Kristen Legan is an athlete, writer and coach. She raced triathlon professionally from 2009-2013, but has since switched her focus to exclusively racing bikes. In 2012, she was one of six women to complete the entire Tour de France route as part of the Reve Tour. Living, training and working in Boulder, Colorado, Kristen coaches for APEX coaching and has a degree in Molecular Biology & Neurology from the University of Colorado, Boulder.