Change the Way You Ride

By Trey Steele & Dave Appel – July 1, 2013
Photo by Brian Fitzsimmons

Change the way you ride? What are you talking about? I hop on the saddle, pedal, and it moves…right? Correct. We are not talking about a new way of sitting on the bike; what we are talking about is changing where you go to ride your bike. Over the past three years, Cycle Camp USA has been exploring the neighborhoods of Central Texas. Over that time, we have found that some of the greatest places to ride are right outside your front door. Yes, the urban riding environment that Cycle Camp USA members train in every day offers amazing roads, low traffic, wonderful scenery, and some of the best riding conditions around. It’s time to explore your ‘hood by bike!

Today more than ever it seems that finding time to do something as simple as riding your bike is a challenge. To complicate matters, cycling has this stigma attached to it—that is, you have to head out somewhere, ride for at least three hours, climb no less than 3,000 feet (at least, in Austin, that is), and average more than 18 mph while doing so. But what if you instead simply put on your shoes and helmet and rolled pro-tour style right out your own front door? You might be very surprised at what you find. Hidden in many neighborhoods are killer hills—not just gradual increases in grade, but the kind of climbs that make you think the city decided to save money on paving by making the road go straight up. And, nine out of ten times, you will be the only one riding that route. You may see some cars but, instead of having them whiz by you at 65 mph, they’ll be strolling along at closer to 20 (race, anyone?). In addition to great climbs and low traffic, there are also amazing stretches of neighborhood roads with few stops signs and traffic lights.

As you start to roll around your neighborhood on your bike, you will begin to see that familiar terrain through different eyes—eyes that are looking for wide roads, low traffic, great scenery, and friendly faces. Just think of all the time you can save by not loading up your gear, driving somewhere, unpacking it, repacking it, driving back home, and unpacking it yet again. Phew; that’s enough to make you only want to ride from your front door.

So, how does this change apply to the environment that you are riding in, you may ask? Let’s start with visibility. The more accustomed your neighbors get to seeing a cyclist riding around, the more likely they are going to be aware of cyclists. And, let’s not forget, they are your neighbors! Creating a bike-friendly neighborhood begins with people actually riding in the neighborhoods. You may also meet some new neighbors. The urban cycling concept will open your eyes to views that you will never be able to experience from inside your vehicle. Some of our members were exposed to roads they’d never seen, even though they’d lived in their neighborhoods for more than 20 years. And, if you’re ready to go off-road, the same rules still apply. Just last week, Trey was on a mountain bike ride near his home in Southwest Austin and found over 20 miles of great trail riding he never even knew existed.

Next time you decide to head out for a ride, try hitting the streets in your neighborhood rather than throwing your bike in the car and driving to the regular group ride. You may be surprised by what you find. Make riding your bike an adventure as well as a fitness activity. That activity can be as simple as a 90-minute ride during which you go all out from stop sign to stop sign. Think that’s not hard? Give it a try. It’s high intensity interval training at its best, all taking place just off your doorstep. Enjoy the ride, take in the scenery, and follow your nose to the house in your neighborhood with the best-smelling backyard grill. Have fun!

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