Celebrate National Bike Month
Riding with the same ease as a kid
I've learned that the statement, “I can't find anyone to ride with,” is bike-speak for, “I'm intimidated to ride with a group and feel like I'd be the slowest person out there.” How do I know this? Because I've been that person and, in many cases, still am that person. Old habits die hard. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago I purchased my first real road bike so that I could do my first triathlon and MS 150 bike ride. It was 2002 and I was just introduced to endurance sports as a young adult.
Although it may be true that you never forget how to ride a bike, it is easy to forget how to ride with the ease and confidence of a youngster. My childhood bikes didn't have so many gear ratios; or small, unpadded saddles; or even pedals that require clipping and unclipping! Oh, no. I was riding Huffys and dirt bikes with my brothers. If we had helmets, I can't remember it (scary thought). You just got on your bike and rode from sunrise to sunset. No one was texting to see when you were coming home. If my parents didn't hear sirens, they assumed we were ok.
Fast forward 30 years. Hopping on a bike after an extended real-world hiatus is daunting. Now, there's so much gear such as computers, cleats, heart-rate monitors, GPS devices, and other distractions that can ultimately steer someone away from the joy of simply riding. As an adult, you sometimes just don't know where to begin. The fearlessness has given way to tentativeness, and no one wants to feel like they're the one holding up the group.
May is National Bike Month and, as a newly selected Ambassador for Specialized Women's Bikes, it's my goal to help people find that joy of being a kid again. You just have to find the right place. If you're new to cycling or back to it as an adult, Austin is full of opportunities to hit the roads or trails with other enthusiasts of all levels. This isn't a complete guide of resources, but a great starter list if you are ready to start pedaling and looking for groups, classes, tips, and motivation!
Most major bike shops in Austin have dedicated group rides that include weekly no-drop and intermediate level rides. "No-drop" means that you ride as a group and no one gets left behind. It's definitely a great place to start if you are new to riding. Check shop websites for their weekly ride offerings. Some shops even have monthly women-only rides.
Bicycle Sport Shop
Jack & Adams
Visit Meet-up.com and search for any type of riding that interests you. There's probably a meet-up group for it! The Austin Cycling Meetup lists several rides per week departing in various locations. Like shop rides, they have specific routes dedicated to beginner as well as intermediate cyclists. Cycling Swami is one of the moderators of the Austin Cycle Meet-Up, and he also provides a list of services and resources.
Spring and early summer is prime for many local charity rides, including The Rosedale Ride, Spokes-n-Spurs, The Red Poppy Ride, The Real Ale Ride, Shiner Ride, LBJ 100 and many more.
Bicycle Rides Texas provides a pretty detailed list of rides around Texas. Not only do you support amazing causes, but you also get the benefit of supported aid stations, many other riders and marked routes of varying distances.
From triathlon, to road racing, to mountain biking, there are teams and groups of all levels. Many teams require coaching or annual fees but provide the cohesive camaraderie. Some teams also support women's cycling specifically. Here is a list of just a few groups and teams in Central Texas. There are many more!
Austin Ridge Riders/Ride Like a Girl
Cycle Camp USA
Bicycle Sport Shop Clubs
Also, some larger gyms have cycle clubs, as do some neighborhood associations.