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Home » Cycling » Cycling as a Social Activity: Stories, Strength and Sidesplitting Laughter

Cycling as a Social Activity: Stories, Strength and Sidesplitting Laughter

December 2015
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Running can be a social activity, if you’re willing to run at someone else’s pace but in my experience, running too slow hurts more than running too fast.  Swimming, forget about it.  Cycling on the other hand, is the quintessential social fitness activity.  You could argue a spin class or the tread mill, but I never got any joy resembling a mouse on a wheel in a cage… not when you consider the scenery available on even a lackluster ride, in comparison.

For a couple of years, before I knew any better, I was a solo cyclist. I would head out the door when I had the time and keep my own pace and I was happy.

In my second season of cycling I was invited to ride with the fast folks on Tuesday night and that became a regular ride for me. While I did meet a few guys out there, the ride was so fast it was tough to be social… it was mostly just trying to hold on to the group.

Then a pattern emerged between several of us last year. Four to six of us would end up dropping within a mile or two of each other so rather than ride the rest of the route alone, we decided to meet up at the 20 mile mark so we could ride the last ten back as our own pack. We came together, a few of us, and grew as friends… Matt, Mike, Phill, Brad, Chuck and me. We all ride about the same pace.

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All of a sudden we started riding together at organized rides. Centuries, metric centuries, and every weekend that we’re not riding organized rides we’re out for long training rides together. Then came road trips and weekend long camping for supported rides.

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This past season my wife joined our little rabble for one of the weekend rides, some Tuesday evening rides, and with me most weekdays:

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At first, I had to ride a little slower than normal but as my wife got stronger and more confident, our pace picked up to a point where my wife can hurt me if I’m not careful.

Cycling hasn’t been the same since. It’s been better, more enjoyable, to share the ride with friends (especially my wife).  I have come to find that I enjoy cycling much more with friends. The good times, laughs and meals eaten together make the work worth it. And enjoyable.

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I used to be under the mistaken impression that I was destined to be a solo cyclist, that getting faster was too important to ride with anyone else and if I rode with someone slower, that would mess with getting faster. It made sense at the time but once I found out how much fun riding with friends was, I gave up on worrying about everything else (my fear wasn’t necessarily true either – as long as I have a couple of really hard days a week, I get faster).  I worried at first, of course, that I wouldn’t be fast enough for the group or that I wouldn’t find a decent gaggle to ride with or that I would end up in situations where I was tempted to drink with my new friends.  In the end, once I let go of my fears, I ended up with a group of guys who don’t drink (I don’t even have sobriety seniority in our group at 23 years) and who gel well together.  Many of my friends are much older than I am but that doesn’t matter at all in the scheme of things.

All I had to do was stick around long enough to find out who I liked… and who could tolerate me.  With that out of the way, I’ll ride in almost any kind of crappy weather just to hang out with my friends.

It also doesn’t hurt that my wife and I have side-by-side trainers for when the roads ice up though.  😉

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17 Comments

  1. yogini.sharon says:

    I, too, was a solo exerciser but learned to love a running group and now a hiking group. It changes everything.

  2. Hi! Great read, and I can relate to the fear of being too slow for the group – this is the current fear stopping me going out on organised group rides. I ride with my partner but as he often works, it’d be nice to meet some more people I could ride with! I guess I just need suck it up and give it a go! You may have motivated me!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Awesome! I started out, directly into the fire with the advanced group – mostly categorized racers. The key is to not be the first one to drop if you don’t know the route. My first ride I was about tenth off so I had my pick of who to ride back with. The fella I did ride back with ended up becoming one of my better cycling buds. Give it a go, it’s so worth the risk. Riding with those guys changed my life and I went out only knowing the one guy that invited me to ride with them… didn’t even know the route.

  3. Thought you might get a kick out of this –https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx2e9jSSK6E

  4. Nice read and great encouragement. I mainly ride solo for the same reasons you mentioned but used to ride with a group but they have started riding during the day and I can’t take off like they can. I have been invited to a group ride on Tuesdays that once the weather turns warmer I may hook up with. The ride is only about 10 to 15 miles but at least I’ll get to meet riders of my own pace. I do a lot of big rides (30-50 mile) but always end up riding alone because most riders are a lot faster than I am. I make sure I have a map of the ride so I won’t get too lost. Thanks a lot for your insite.

  5. Sheree says:

    My beloved and I have side by side trainers too. Not that they thankfully get much use down here.
    Happy Holidays!

  6. That’s so wonderful! I sometimes struggle a bit with finding motivation for endurance training, but with great company it’s much better 🙂

  7. Manu Stanley says:

    Cycling, just like hiking, has this wonderful ability to make great friends out of total strangers. I too consider myself fortunate to have a supporting wife (who sometimes rides with me, and sometimes follows by car) and a son who tries to ride with me, and keeps me in good spirits. In essence I’m still a solo cyclist who enjoys the road.

    Great to know about your group. I wish you, family and friend a great Christmas! 🙂

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