I want to open your eyes to riding for fun. It’s a concept I believe in and one I think all racers should embrace frequently.
I’m am a racer. I like going fast. I like racing against the clock, and I love the satisfaction of leaving everything out on the trail and being rewarded with the win. Racing has a number of qualities that a person can get accustomed to, maybe even addicted to. You learn to push yourself and to conquer your mental barriers. You try things you might never try on a ride with your buddies. It can make you a better rider, and it can improve your confidence and fitness. For those of us who are into it, it takes a lot to come down off the high of a good race.
Share a view with a non-racing friend
So fellow racer, I don’t blame you for getting caught up in the KOMs and QOMs. I don’t blame you for ditching your friends on the climb in an effort to prove your fitness. I don’t blame you for blasting by that guy with a flat. (Maybe I do blame you a little bit, especially for that last one, but have some empathy.) I understand your affliction, and I want to help. I want to open your eyes to riding for fun. It’s a concept I believe in, and one I think all racers should embrace once in a while.
“Why,” you ask. “If I like racing, why should I stop?” Well, here is why…
Use your ride time to catch up with friends
When you get into the race “scene”, it’s easy to forget that not everyone rides his or her bike to win races. It’s easy to become a snob about the type of bike a person has, or the type of riding they do, or how good you think they are. You’re surrounded by others just like you, so you start to forget that people ride bikes for a million reasons: to get a little exercise, to spend time with their kids, friends, or significant others, or to escape a bad day. Some people ride their bikes to get to work or ride jumps instead of hammering on the pedals. Racers are actually a pretty small minority of all the bikers out there. Most people are riding to have fun, plain and simple.
Spend some time off the bike
6 Ways to Ride for Fun
- Stop treating every ride as a race, and maybe turn off your Strava.
- Go on rides other than training rides and resist the urge to look up strava segments.
- Get lost. Explore trails/roads you’ve never ridden before
- Ride with a kid, and a mom, and someone who shreds but has never once been in a race.
- Stop and have a sip of whiskey out of that bottle someone has hidden under a rock in the woods.
- Learn to laugh along the ride.
At one point, we all started to ride because it’s fun. It makes us feel happy when we’re sad, it relaxes us when we’re stressed. There’s biology there, something to do with adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine. There’s something about 2 wheels that makes exercise feel more like playing than work.
Don’t be too serious. Riding is supposed to be fun.
So remember, for most people, it’s no fun to ride with someone who only wants to go all out all the time and doesn’t want to stop for breaks. It doesn’t help if you go fast and then loop back around and join them again. That makes people feel bad and they don’t want to feel bad. They are there to feel good. They don’t want to hear about your best times or compete with you on the way up or down the hill, or hear about how they should upgrade to the latest part if they want to really improve their speed. Competitiveness can kill a good ride vibe.
I’m not asking you to quit being a racer. If you love racing, you can’t just stop, and you shouldn’t. I am just asking you to tone it back a notch and ride with some non-racing folk once in a while. Make a new friend, learn something new, and take in the scenery. If you set out with no goal other to have fun, you might remember that we’re all just bike riders. It doesn’t matter whether others have the coolest gear or the most skills, whether they are slow or fast, ride flats or clipped in… they are riding a bike. Forget about speed and competition and relax already because riding for fun can be pretty awesome.
Go ride your bike.