4 Simple Hacks Guaranteed to Get You into Cycling

I like to believe that for many of us, the first time we really felt free was when Mom or Dad let go of the back of our saddle and let us pedal our bicycles on our own. It felt like flying – even if I did come to a bit of a crash landing on the grass at the side of the road!


Within a few months, I was riding round the block with my pals. Then, up the street to the corner store to blow my allowance on candy and comic books. Eventually, my friends and I would spend entire days riding from one form of mischief to another – and the only thing that mattered was that we returned home in time for dinner - or bedtime.


That sense of carefree independence is what drew me back to cycling 15 years ago. Over that time, my ambitions have grown and my adventures have offered me a critical respite from the day-to-day pressures of career and family.


I’ve learned many things about bikes, routes, clothing and nutrition - but the four best pieces of advice I’ve picked up actually have little to do with gear or technique.


If you’re curious about cycling, follow these four hacks, and you’ll go from anxious to avid in no time.


Change Your Clothes

Think about it: many of the clothes we own were bought with a purpose in mind. Heck, some garments are even named for it.  Bridal gown. Business suit. Party dress. Put on any one of those outfits, and you know what you’re about to do.


Changing into your cycling kit (or any exercise clothing) is the first step towards getting you out riding. I mean, it’s not like you’re going to don your helmet just so you can plunk down on the couch and watch TV.

That change of attire is a signal – to you and to around you that your plans are underway.


When I walk through the kitchen all “kitted up,” rushing about to fill my water bottles and gather my mid-ride snacks, my family members part like the Red Sea – knowing that every minute I spend on the bike makes me a calmer parent and a happier mate. My wife and daughters know that I’m a better person on the bike – and that begins with changing my clothes.


Find a Friend

Cycling as a solo pursuit has its benefits, no doubt. There’s a serenity to pedaling along, accompanied only by the sound of your own gears and tires. Still, I prefer riding with friends.


A bike ride with a friend is a date, a commitment you won’t easily back out of. That’s especially important when you’re starting out and each new ride starts with the lingering soreness of the previous one.


Riding with a friend also helps when life threatens to get in the way of your “me time.” With a friend, it’s no longer just me time. It’s our time.


Don't have a friend who cycles? Join a club. Most offer introductory ride clinics or weekly “Learn to Ride” groups. I met one of my best cycling companions at an event just like that.


Aim for an Event       

After a couple of years of solely virtual events, there are more in-person cycling events than ever: everything from charity rides to “fondos” (big rides that you can race or just ride) to one-day cycling experiences that combine some sort of special route with a post-ride meal (like our SWSCD/Gravelocity “Give Gravel a Go” rides for women only). Distances range from as little as 40 km in one day to multiple days of well over 100 km.


Many events offer support for newer riders: email and social media posts with tips, training plans and even pre-event training rides. While it might feel as if you’re biting off more than you can chew, these sorts of events provide great motivation to get out and ride – so you’re prepared; so you don’t embarrass yourself; and so you do your part to “earn” the donations to the cause.


What’s more, you might just meet a couple of kindred spirits – and continue riding together in the months (or years) following the event.


Slide into Social Media

There’s nothing that makes me want to hop on my bike more than watching others have fun riding, racing or talking about cycling. These days, Instagram is my go-to app for a quick fix of spectacular vistas, helpful tips and occasional mischief. Here are a few of my favourites:


  • @globalcyclingnetwork – Really helpful tips on everything from riding better to maintaining your bike to selecting your next bike. GCN is also a major player in carrying professional cycling’s biggest races.
  • @aliactionjackson – Alison Jackson is currently Canada’s road race champion, but she earns praise across professional cycling for her fun and wacky videos on IG and TikTok. I don’t know that there’s anyone anywhere who has more fun on the bike.
  • @leahkirchmann – Leah is another Canadian pro cyclist. She’s not as wacky as Ali, but she makes up for it with posts and pics of the treats she bakes on her rest days.
  • @iamtedking – Ted King’s a former pro road racer who’s now one of the best gravel cyclist in the world. The “Gravel King” often undertakes massive, ambitious rides that are filmed and posted on his YouTube channel.
  • @jamesonthefront – James Bongard is an avid cyclist on both road and gravel, but I follow him for his stunning photographs and insightful commentary on the intersection between cycling and daily life.
  • @gravelocity.bike – Well, this is my own feed. Here, I try to share lessons learned (in life and in cycling), reflections on my latest ride and news about upcoming weekend gravel-cycling getaways and events around Southern Ontario.


So there you have it. Follow those four tips and I guarantee you’ll fall in love with your bike.


Now, go change your clothes.


- Rich Martyn, Gravelleur-in-Chief, Gravelocity Cycling Getaways





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